COP26: How you can start a climate change revolution at your school


Now, more than ever, there is a renewed focus on how governments and societies can help meet the challenge of climate change.

However, regardless of the vital importance of international cooperation, it is also clear that when someone takes positive action to improve the environment, we can all benefit.


This was confirmed to me recently in judging the Environmental Champion of the Year category in is yours School Awards 2021.

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These individuals have done incredible things in their schools, from engaging pupils in making honey from beehives, to creating school plant plots and building bird boxes, among many other things.

COP26: The Importance of Schools Helping Address Climate Change

Each brought a distinctive approach to their work, whether it was supporting Kenyan and Nepalese schools to create bee-friendly spaces, championing a “plastic-free” status, celebrating the holiday with mint dips from their botanical garden or creating outdoor classrooms.

It’s obvious how much impact someone can make when it comes to sustainability. But their ambitions were not constrained by the gates of their school: each worked to share their experiences, pursue broader improvements, and encourage others to take on environmental responsibility, too.

At the heart of much of the work were partnerships: with pupils, parents, local residents and groups, including the Women’s Institute, Surfers Against Sewage, Forest Schools, and the RSPB.

Getting the message across to a wider audience was also key: some invited local councilors to meet with their environmental council, others took pupils to Parliament to speak with MP Michael Gove, and some invited students to record podcasts and radio interviews.

The basis for all of this was the real voices of the disciples, who speak from their first-hand experience, show the positive change they can achieve and encourage others to participate.

There are other major environmental initiatives underway as well.

Ofsted’s latest results in Primary geography highlight how This topic is an important opportunity in the curriculum for young children to learn about their environment and a launching pad for broader participation and activity. As Ofsted reported: “Many (disciples) were passionate about the planet and taking care of it, and they told us they were taking action to protect the environment.”

For high school students, there is a geographer-led work program Dr. Lizzie RushtonAnd and Science Fellows, to engage adolescents in creating a joint statement for Education for Environmental Sustainability. The statement will provide challenge and provocation to those who make decisions about what happens in our schools and classrooms, whether it be in the curriculum, school ownership, the community or broader life.

So, whether you take the lead from Greta Thunberg, participate in the weekly RGS # Oh, Lord Initiative or inspired by Mia Rose Craig Love birds and promote equality in the environment, there is a lot (more) that all schools can do to improve and protect the environment.

And the last lesson is taken from the words of Wordsworth’s poem, Tables upside down, which I saw on display in a school’s eco-friendly garden:Let nature be your teacher.”

This article was originally published on June 23, 2021

Steve Price is Head of Outdoor Education and Learning at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). You can follow him on Twitter at Tweet embed


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