I am writing to urge you to keep a focus on sustainability in the National Curriculum. In 2000, the following values, aims and purposes were introduced:
“Pupils should develop awareness and understanding of, and respect for, the environments in which they live, and secure their commitment to sustainable development at a personal, national and global level.” (pg 11, https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/QCA-99-457.pdf)
This has allowed pioneer schools to create local whole school curricula and activities that make core knowledge relevant, motivational and by including effective teaching methodologies such as experiential/action learning, critical thinking, problem solving, team working and working with local and global communities. Schools embedding sustainability in their practice have been shown by Ofsted in many research reports to be Good or Excellent and with good links to improved achievement. But this practice is not yet across all schools.
Sustainability skills are commonly cited as needed by:
1. students (over 80% of 7-14 year olds want to learn more about global issues at school and rank this 3rd after numeracy and literacy – The Cooperative 2011 Ipsos Mori, quoted in their Sustainability Guide),
2. university students (over 85% believe they need 8 sustainable development competencies in order to get jobs – HEA/NUS 2010, 2012),
3. teachers wanting to prepare their students for a sustainable future (many surveys and our experience including government Sustainable Schools consultations 2005)
4. businesses wanting both an understanding of, and skills for sustainability (many CR reports)
Keeping this objective in the National Curriculum would allow many other schools to address topics that are part of sustainability without having to add more content to the pared down National Curriculum. These ‘educations’ and topics include:
Climate change, nature, environmental education, learning outside the classroom, learning in the natural environment, global learning, citizenship, water education, peace education, recycling and waste education, energy education, well being, biodiversity, consumerism, corporate responsibility, poverty, health, trade, circular economy, resource efficiency, food, gardening, population and so on (there are hundreds!)
The ‘green economy’ has been growing in this country despite the recession; our students need the skills, innovation and creativity required for an environmentally, economically and socially better future. After all our Sustainable Schools model has been copied by many countries e.g. Australia, Brazil.
I feel this should be the entitlement for all children and keeping the objective will allow this work to continue, as well as reinforcing the DfE’s endorsement of Sustainable Schools in the Natural Environment White Paper 2011.