Keep Britain Tidy and many other organizations have expressed serious concerns about the government’s new National Curriculum, which is to be finalized in September following a consultation period and is to be ready for implementation in 2014. This is because, in the new curriculum, practically all reference to sustainability, climate change or the environment for pupils under 14 years of age has been deleted.
Keep Britain Tidy’s concerns are seemingly echoed by a majority of teachers around the country. In a recent survey of 523 primary and secondary teachers throughout England, Keep Britain Tidy found that an overwhelming 92% of teachers agreed that sustainability should be more embedded in the curriculum. It also found that 86% of teachers agreed that it was possible that, if the government did not emphasize the importance of environment, then some schools would show less interest in environmental programs.
According to Tim Burns, head of Keep Britain Tidy’s Waste Watch, the environmental charity wants the curriculum to reflect environmental issues and is shocked and disappointed that Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove and the Department of Education have largely ignored the advice of an independent panel of experts that a major aim of the curriculum should be sustainability and the management of resources, both locally and globally.
Mr Burns says that Keep Britain Tidy believes schools must engender in their pupils an understanding of the way human activity is harming the natural world and ways that this can be prevented. It would like to see a curriculum that reflects the environmental needs and challenges of the future and gives the next generation the means to understand and tackle them. Keep Britain Tidy’s own Eco-Schools program is designed to ensure that the next generation still gains this understanding despite the government’s intentions. He adds that environment must remain in the curriculum if future environmental challenges are to be met.
The natural environment, Mr Burns says, is central to the economy and the nation’s health and wellbeing. He fails to understand why a government, he says touts itself as the greenest ever, should be giving up on the next generation, the one that will have to face and deal with environmental issues.
Eco-Schools was born out of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development and started in 1994 (in Denmark, Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom) It is an international awards program that runs in 17,500 schools, reaching some 6 million children, and is the world’s biggest sustainable schools program. Its purpose is to embed principles of sustainability into school life and equip future generations for leadership roles with regard to environmental issues.