Green Schools Revolution (GSR) is a three year project launched in January 2023, funded by the #iwill Fund. It is centred on creating high-quality opportunities for secondary school pupils to green their schools by taking the lead in implementing three key parts of the Department for Education's (DfE) Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy:
1. Developing Climate Action Plans;
2. Helping to create the DfE’s Nature Park through our 30% Now for Nature rewilding project;
3. Delivering Teach the Teacher sessions to help integrate climate education into subjects
GSR will focus on less advantaged communities in target areas across England. We will build on our current work in East Anglia and the South coast, extending our reach to include the North East, North West and South West.
We will ensure that the young people involved in GSR will develop both confidence and competence, and we will help them to progress along a social action pathway designed to support the development of civic, education, employment and socio-emotional outcomes.
The DfE CCS strategy provides a policy framework for better quality, integrated climate education. Although DfE is investing in Carbon Literacy training for one member of staff in each school, that will take many years to roll-out and have an impact on what is being taught in our secondary schools. Meanwhile, our TtT initiative has been tackling this issue by supporting young people to talk to their teachers about climate change and show their demand for climate education.
Teach the Teacher not only upskills secondary school students and starts them on their environmental journey, but it also supports teachers to make simple changes to their teaching to help them integrate climate into the curriculum.
Having run a successful pilot in October and November 2021 where over 50 young people ran Teach the Teacher sessions at 17 secondary schools across the UK, through GSR (and funding from the Ovo Foundation) we are now scaling up TtT to run at 200 schools per year over the next 3 years, involving more than 600 young people per year.
The 2022 DfE Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy has advised that all schools in England will need to have a Climate Action Plan (CAP) in place from 2025, but has not provided specific guidance or templates to assist schools in their creation. We are establishing a youth-led approach to CAP creation, developing a set of good practice examples and a bank of resources to help schools to create and implement impactful CAPs through youth social action.
To do this we will work with schools, facilitating teams of pupils to lead the development of a CAP for their school. Pupils leading on their CAP will work alongside a professional energy auditor to complete an energy audit of their school, receive support from The Wildlife Trusts to build nature and biodiversity into their CAPs and will have the opportunity to have a real-life climate scientist visit their school.
Our current focus is on secondary schools within less advantaged coastal communities in our target areas of: Newcastle upon Tyne, Liverpool, Great Yarmouth, Weston-super-Mare, Plymouth and Southampton.
However, we are hoping to extend our reach in the future, so do encourage any school who'd like to take part to still register their interest.
If you'd like to take part in our CAPs programme, register your interest using the following link: https://forms.office.com/e/BDKbj4qUAn
UK Government policy is to protect 30% of the land and sea for nature by 2030. The DfE Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy (CCS strategy) calls on schools to work together to bring nature back into school grounds, collectively creating a Nature Park across the school estate.
Like our work on CAPs, our project will be a forerunner for wilding efforts across the sector, helping the DfE succeed in its vision for Nature Parks. Working with 12 secondary schools, we will support a team of pupils at each to lead on the development of a plan to wild 30% of their school grounds by 2030, as well as assessing and reducing the negative impact on nature created by their school’s activities.
These young people will have access to a brand-new suite of biodiversity mapping tools that are being created by the Natural History Museum, and access to expertise from the Wildlife Trusts, Ground-Control and The Edge. They will be supported to complete a baseline survey of biodiversity, identify target species for wilding in their area and implement their own wilding plan. Once the Wilding Schools plans and commitments have been written and agreed, we will work with our partners to showcase them, so other schools can replicate and develop their own wilding plans as a central part of their CAPs.
SOS-UK are co-facilitators of the #iWill For Nature Steering group, which brings together 32 leading environmental organisations. Since co-facilitating this group we have taken action to make the group more youth-led. Some of the young people involved with it feel it should evolve into a Future Forum, where young people get regular face time with the CEOs of the environmental charities so they can get their organisations working together on their priorities, such as climate justice, mental health, youth-led influencing of politicians and climate education.
We will make this happen and ask all 32 organisations to nominate two young people from their youth boards in England to sit on the Forum. We will reserve 12 additional places each year for young people from other parts of GSR, so we can elevate their voices. We will convene, support and mentor the young people, helping them organise themselves into formidable project groups, ensuring they are fully prepared for the meetings with the CEOs. The Forum will also offer a level of informal scrutiny and advice on the activities delivered in our other workstreams.
For more information on Teach the Teacher, please visit our website or email Jack Di Francesco.
For Climate Action Plans (CAP), please email our CAP team or register your interest here.
For Wilding Schools, please email Jo Wilkinson.
For Future Forum, please email Michelle Hemmingfield.