< Research Reports

Schools and sustainability

We've worked with Green Schools Project to extend our research into student expectations for and experiences of learning for sustainability to cover pupils in primary and secondary schools.  Here's what they told us...

Since 2010, we've researched the expectations and experiences of students in higher education in relation to sustainability, and in 2016 we extended the research to also gather the views of students in further education.  For the first time in 2018, we surveyed students in primary and secondary schools in England, in partnership with Green Schools Project.  In December 2018, 2990 pupils across England in year 5 and 6 in primary school and across all years in secondary and sixth form college level completed an online survey on their views on environmental sustainability.  The pupils study at a range of different types of education institution, including state and private schools, academy and non-academy.  The data has been weighted to represent statistics available from the Department for Education on the proportion of state and private pupils, and also within state schools, the proportion of academy and non-academy.  Overall figures have been used, rather than those specific to the level of education.  Data has not been weighted by gender or ethnicity as data at the required level of detail is not publicly available.  It's worth noting that it is likely that those schools that did respond are those at the more engaged end of the spectrum when it comes to environmental sustainability, often with specific staff members with a responsibility for the issue within the school or college who were able to drive participation in the research within the school.

Our findings include:

  • 56% say they have learnt lots or quite a bit about the environment at their current school or college
  • 68% are interested in learning more about the environment
  • 86% agree that all schools and colleges should be doing things to help the environment
  • 85% agree that all schools and colleges should be encouraging and helping pupils like me to do things to help the environment
  • 49% say they would like to be involved with projects or activities at their school or college that help the environment
  • 54% say they are very or fairly concerned about climate change
  • 80% say it is fairly or very important for world leaders to do more to tackle climate change
  • 22% say they had heard of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals
  • 46% say they would like to spend more time in nature if they had the chance


Schools and sustainability - 2018-19 - Research report