In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the importance of climate change education (CCE) in schools. However, despite the strategic direction set by the Department for Education, teachers and school leaders often lack the expertise and training to effectively deliver this critical and complex curriculum. The demand for high-quality professional development in CCE has become evident, along with the need to address the emotional impact of climate change on pupils. In response to these challenges, the Teacher Development Trust alongside Leeds Trinity University and CAPE (Climate Adapted Pathways for Education) is leading the way by developing a pilot professional development programme to equip teachers and school leaders with the necessary knowledge and skills.

The Need for Professional Development

We know that teachers believe they have not received adequate training to educate about climate change, furthermore the lack of an evidence base for effective professional development in CCE adds to the complexity of the situation. To address these issues, TDT recognises the need to bridge the gap by providing comprehensive and ongoing professional development to support teachers and school leaders.

Being Smart, Heart and Humble

We take an evidence-informed approach to develop our professional development programmes at TDT. Our focus is on implementing the mechanisms outlined in the Education Endowment Foundation’s guidance report on effective professional development. This approach emphasises the development of teaching abilities rather than mere knowledge transfer. By incorporating mechanisms such as managing cognitive load, revisiting prior learning, motivating staff, and embedding practice, we aim to provide teachers with the knowledge, skills, and strategies necessary for effective CCE.

Collaborative Approach and Local Context

We recognise the importance of collaboration and adapting professional development to local contexts. By partnering with school trusts and aligning the programme with the NPQ leadership frameworks, we will ensure that the pilot meets the specific needs and implementation challenges faced by different schools. High-quality content will be provided by a range of partners, leveraging expertise across the sector in areas such as school culture, outdoor learning, curriculum development, and carbon reduction.

Features of the Pilot Programme

The CCE pilot professional development programme is designed to be delivered over a 6-month period and offers two pathways: one for school leaders (executive leaders, headteachers and senior leaders) and another for subject leaders. The programme will include evidence-informed content, covering both theoretical knowledge (learn that) and practical guidance (learn how to) drawn from educational research and experts in the field. 

Programme Aims 

The pilot programme aims to build collective operational climate literacy among school communitiesThis involves cultivating an environment where school leaders, teachers, and pupils routinely evaluate the impacts and consequences of their actions, gather, and synthesise relevant information, advocate for sustainable practices, and take actions that contribute to a healthier environment. By fostering a sense of collective investment and responsibility, the programme aims to encourage schools to actively improve local environments and instil a sense of optimistic hope in young people in how we can tackle the challenges posed by climate change.

Concluding Reflections: Nurturing and Sustaining Climate Change Education

As the demand for effective climate change education grows, TDT’s pilot professional development programme emerges as a vital initiative to address the challenges faced by teachers and school leaders. By adopting an evidence-informed approach, considering emotional wellbeing, and collaborating with school trusts, we aim to equip educators with the necessary tools to navigate the complex landscape of climate change education and empower future generations to address this urgent global priority.

LIMITED PLACES AVAILABLE! Join our Pilot climate change education leadership professional development programme for FREE!

What programmes are we offering? We will be offering two programme pathways:

  • Climate Change Education Leadership Programme – this is for senior leaders and headteachers.
  • Climate Change Education Subject Leaders Programme – this is for subject leaders (particularly in geography and science – which is where we’re focussing our first stage of curriculum adaptation). 

What does the programme involve? Both programmes will start in July 2023 and run for 6 months and will be aligned with the domains of knowledge within the NPQ frameworks. School leaders will focus on topics such as culture, implementation and decarbonisation whilst subject leaders will focus on curriculum and pedagogy.  Both programmes will include two face-to-face sessions:

  • Session 1 – Climate literacy training in September delivered by Future we Want 
  • Session 2 – End of programme celebration event which we hope will be held at the Natural History Museum in December. 

Both of the face-to-face sessions will take place in London – as it is an easily accessible location and the most environmentally friendly option.  All other sessions will be held online and there will also be some content for school and subject leaders to explore on our online learning platform. Participants will also be offered 3 coaching calls and will be encouraged to visit another school also developing their climate change education to develop networks of support.

Who is involved in designing and delivering the programme? We have partnerships with Chartered College of Teaching, the Natural History Museum, Learning through Landscapes, Earthwatch and Future we Want, whom will partner with us in delivering this programme that will be led by the Teacher Development Trust (TDT) and Leeds Trinity University (LTU) 

When is the first session? The first national seminar to welcome participants and provide details about the programme will take place on:

  • School leaders – Tuesday 11 July 13:30 – 15:00 
  • Subject leaders – Tuesday 11 July 15:30 – 17:00 

What is the commitment needed by participants We would encourage school and subject leaders to commit to the full programme alongside the coaching sessions and school visit.   We would also ask that every participant commits to the evaluation of the programme and fully participates in the assessment process. 

What is involved in the assessment? For the assessment, participants will be asked to:

  • Produce a short academic literature review to engage with the evidence on climate change education – to demonstrate how their own critical awareness of the research has developed over time.  
  • Develop and iterate an implementation plan over the course of the programme – to demonstrate how they will explore, prepare, deliver and sustain climate change education within their context. 
  • Write a reflective log throughout the programme to demonstrate how their own understanding has developed over time – to develop their own self-regulation, engage in cognitive sensemaking and to attend to their own potential eco-anxiety. 

What do you need to do to take up these free places  If you would like to participate in the programme please complete the Get in touch form on the CAPE website by Monday 19th June with your name, current role and email address so that we can provide details about the programme.