Teachers attend climate summit
Teachers from schools across Wokingham borough came together on 8 July for the council’s first Climate Teachers Summit.
Delegates shared the work they are doing in their own schools, worked together to look at how climate can be brought into the wider curriculum and got information from a range of local services. The learning is set to continue after the event, with a newly created Climate Teachers Forum, facilitated by the council open to all schools in the borough.
The event was designed to bring teachers, council departments and partner agencies together to discuss challenges and solutions to the climate emergency within schools, as well as spark ideas and share best practice.
Held at Holme Grange School, the event was opened by Councillor Sarah Kerr, executive member for climate emergency and resident services, Leanne Hughes, Holme Grange’s sustainability lead teacher, and Councillor Gregor Murray.
Support and opportunities
Delegates from 15 schools then had the opportunity to find out about support and opportunities across the borough, with exhibits from The Tree Project, Freely Fruity, Public Health, the council’s UNICEF UK child friendly communities programme and My Journey Wokingham, who brought along their smoothie bike.
Matt Knight, Sustainability and Ecology Lead at Shinfield St Marys Primary School joined Leanne to talk about the measures that they had taken in their schools and how they could be replicated across the borough.
Matt explained how Shinfield St Marys has transformed its outside into an eco-space, including a new fruit tree nursery to distribute to other schools in the borough, habitats for wildlife, various beds to grow fruit and vegetables and sustainable structures such as a biodome.
Leanne explained how Holme Grange are the first in the world to be awarded gold for their teaching on environmental issues by eduCCate Global, an organisation that trains and supports teachers and schools to embed climate education across the school.
Holme Grange were awarded this after introducing a whole school policy and working with other schools in the area. They also developed a sustainability curriculum which all year 9 students take part in, with topics including climate literacy, fast fashion, sustainable cooking, and climate science.
Embedding climate in education
Delegates worked together to brainstorm how the three key areas from the Government's new strategy for sustainability and climate change in education offer opportunities to embed the subjects into education, whilst looking at how challenges can be overcome.
Ideas generated included teaching children and parents repair skills, reducing food waste and introducing composting, facilitating distribution of pre-loved uniforms and using sustainable suppliers.
“We know that the climate emergency affects everybody and that we have a collective responsibility to make changes, both big and small, for the sake of our future,” said Councillor Sarah Kerr.
“Working with teachers is an effective and crucial way to make sure that our schools are working to reduce their own carbon footprint. It also means that children and young people are equipped with the knowledge and feel empowered to make sustainable choices in their own lives.”
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