The next generation will play an important part in the future of sustainability, and with programs like the BBC’s Blue Planet raising awareness of the damage done by plastic to the oceans, we are raising the next generation of change-makers. Children learn in a number of different ways, from their parents and wider family to their friends, but schools provide an important role in shaping the way children think from an early age, and education is one of the major sources where children can learn more about the impact of their actions on the environment.
There is a mixed divide within the UK, with a number of schools only covering sustainability in Science & Geography lessons. However, in the past few years an increasing number of schools are choosing to integrate more sustainable and life-led practices into the curriculum, which is having a positive impact on the children.
At a school in Harrogate, the school menu is filled with food that is made using local produce, with the pupils knowing exactly where the food has come from. The Head Chef even goes into lessons to teach children about the importance of eating seasonally and choosing locally supplied food.
Another school in Cumbria works with a beekeeper to teach children about the importance of bees and the impact they have on the eco-system, by helping them to create their own hives. They also learn about the food chain, and how important insects are within the food chain, by making bottle-bug hotels.
Schools are slowly becoming aware of how important it is to engage children at an early age, whilst they have a child’s attention, and can understand the importance of sustainable choices through play.
There are so many ways that schools can implement sustainability within the curriculum and other great strategies we have heard schools implement are:
- Growing fresh food
- Getting rid of single-use plastic from school meals
- Choosing Fair trade products
- Having a recycling centre
- Carrying out litter pickings at nearby parks and beaches
As the demand for sustainability increases, more external organisations are cropping up to guide schools in their journey to become more sustainable. Eco Schools is a global programme that engages 19.5m children across 67 countries, helping children drive change and improve environmental awareness throughout the school and local community. Using a 7-step framework, schools attempt to achieve the Eco Schools Green Flag award, by participating in challenges that help them become more conscious about the environmental impact of their choices.
Teaching children about the important issues surrounding the environment, in an interactive and fun way, helps memory retention and mental development, making them more likely to remember. Big Green Machine is a multi-media project featuring different concerns around sustainability, teaching children about the main issues through the power of animation and song. This is just one of the many programs helping to inspire and create the next generation of sustainably savvy children.
It might seem like a lot of work to make these changes, especially at a time of government cuts and a decreasing interest in teaching, but in order to make major change we need to raise awareness and educate the next generation of change makers.
We’d love to know if your child goes to a school with environmental initiatives; or if you are a school who has already been awarded an Eco Schools Green Flag Award, you can get in touch with us via Instagram, Twitter or the contact form below.