New curriculum guide from NAEE

Changes to the National Curriculum in England left many in the ESD sector (myself included) in a state of despair. Sustainability as a cross-curricular objective was gone, environmental and social justice issues do still crop up, but coverage is largely patchy. The upshot of this is that schools do not have to cover sustainability in a coordinated and carefully planned way. So, in schools that have little regard for environmental issues, children can go through their entire formal education with barely any introduction to the wonders of the natural world and the challenges it faces. Which, when they look at the current hysteria over plastic bottles in the news, must be seem a bit strange. But all is not lost and committed teachers are continuing to educate for sustainability, they are finding a way. Despite the light touch approach of the National Curriculum, it does not prohibit ESD; a point I tirelessly tried to get across while I was head of Eco-Schools. For those who want to find ways to embed ESD, there is now a fantastic new resource to guide them. 

 The NAEE (National Association for Environmental Education)* have produced a fantastic new guide for teachers who are so inclined. Opportunities for Environmental Education across the Secondary Curriculum is comprehensive, it covers the curriculum subject by subject and illustrates the possibilities with real world case studies. 

At Green Schools Project, we are about to launch a new programme for Secondary Schools, the Social Business Challenge. The Business Studies section of the NAEE review will be particularly useful to us, here's an excerpt: 

Environmental Education through Business Studies (KS4)

written with Eamonn Clements Economics Teacher

Environmental impacts of business activities

  • The ‘purpose and nature of business’ in the AQA syllabus discusses the constantly changing business environment including the environmental implications of business activity. Here students might consider the issues such as the need to respond to consumer expectations regarding environmental consequences.
  • The GCSE curriculum mentions “the impact of ethical and environmental considerations on businesses”, which include sustainability, global warming and use of scarce resources. Here students might consider a range of positive and negative scenarios for businesses whose activities impact upon local and/or global environmental conditions.
  • Influences on business include environmental considerations such as impact on traffic congestion, recycling, waste disposal, air and noise pollution. Here teachers might introduce the Circular Economy model (see the Design & Technology section of this document) and ‘cradle to grave’ approaches by businesses who make goods.
  • Students could carry out an environmental impact assessment/survey about where to locate a new business. Transport of raw materials — would new roads need to be built? Would there be public transport links for workers? Waste — how could this be disposed of safely, cleanly and legally? (This links to environmental law — see the Citizenship section of this document.)

Impacts of businesses on individuals and wider society

  • The concept of stakeholders includes environmental elements and addresses trade-offs between environment, sustainability and profit. Here students might consider conflicts of interest in how different stakeholders in local communities might respond to the setting up of a range of distinct businesses in a specific community.
  • Corporate social responsibility – students might mock up policies for new companies that explain their approaches to CSR.

The handbook has been compiled by Juliette Green, a writer, teacher and freelance environmental educator and complements the 2016 Primary School curriculum review. Juliette has written books and resources about outdoor learning, science and English. She is a member of NAEE’s Executive. I am sure it will be downloaded by teachers all over England and put to good use. 

*Full disclosure: I am on the NAEE board of trustees

Morgan PhillipsComment