Secondary school pupils feel the climate change education they receive is too focused on passing exams and doesn’t equip them with the skills they need to tackle the climate crisis, according to a new report.
The research showed that 14 to 18-year-olds believe climate change is the most important issue that needs to be addressed if their lives are to be improved in the future.
Despite that, just over a quarter (26%) of pupils surveyed feel strongly that any actions they currently take to combat climate change might make a difference.
Also, more than seven out of 10 pupils (72%) say they would welcome the opportunity for broader lessons about climate change in school, rather than simply learning facts and associated impacts.
A similar number (68%) believe climate change education should be included across all subjects, in addition to science and geography where most learn about the climate and how it is changing.
The research was carried out as part of a partnership between the University of Plymouth and the British Science Association's Future Forum programme. Since 2017, the British Science Association has been running Future Forums to give young people a chance to voice their opinions and concerns on science and technology topics such as gene editing, AI and their educations.
It centred around an initial survey of 1,000 14 to 18-year-olds with two follow-up workshops, attended by 41 pupils, providing the opportunity for more detailed responses.
Among the other key findings from the survey and workshops were that young people believe the current approach to climate change education contributes to a sense of climate anxiety and does not inspire hope.
Older students (aged 17 and 18) who took part in the survey said while they are acutely aware of activists like Greta Thunberg and groups like Fridays For Future, it is more from research outside the classroom. As a result, they expressed a desire to be taught in more detail about ways they can affect positive societal change.
In addition to the knowledge needed to pass their GCSEs and A-levels, young people also expressed an interest in learning more about the social, economic and political issues associated with the climate crisis.