Mr Gove has written in support of the UK school students striking for climate change. He did not suggest they do this when he was Secretary of State for Education in the Coalition government.
Meanwhile, the current Secretary of State for Education disagreed. Speaking at the annual ASCL conference last week, Damian Hinds urged children to stop walking out on strikes and instead learn how they can play an active role in saving the environment. He said:
“I want children in school, and I want children learning to be the engineers, the climate scientists, the geographers of the future. And you’ve got a much better chance of that being in school than not being in school. I would also say to those children, it is great that they take an interest in this topic, which is one of the biggest topics facing us as a country and as a world. But they can actually take some pride in what this country has been doing. When you talk to people in other governments around the world, they do talk about what this country has done, and the leadership role that we have taken on climate change. But there’s more that we need to do, clearly there is more that as a community we need to do. So yes in that respect, yes I’m delighted those children are taking a keen interest. But I would rather they were in school.”
Moreover, they think that the government has done enough in another sense as well. Whilst we might really want to believe our own rhetoric that it’s education in general (and environmental education in particular) that will save the world, government doesn’t. It thinks that this will be done by government, treaties, business, technology, innovation, enterprise, agencies, think tanks, trade, aid, etc where there are no children or teachers in sight. It’s because of this that it’s happy with a pared-down curriculum offering and won’t be listening to environmental educators anytime soon, despite the rising clamour of voices.