Teaching Sustainability: The role of educators in building skills and knowledge for a sustainable future

At COP26 in 2021, ambitious targets were set by world governments to tackle the Climate Emergency. However, many are sceptical that these will be met, particularly in the face of global conflict and economic instability. It is crucial that our younger generations are equipped with the knowledge and skills to fight for their future.

Younger generations’ fears around the Climate Emergency are real, and educators and resource providers have a key role to play in giving them the knowledge and support to face their future. Through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), educators can become important agents for change, supporting the growth of a sustainable society.

Educators want to teach sustainability, but they need more support

We wanted to find out how educators felt about their role in helping younger generations towards this future, and what support, training and resources they need to fulfil it. We conducted an online survey at the end of 2021 with over 500 UK educators from primary to higher education. The findings show that:

  • 85% of teachers thought it was urgent to teach sustainability.
  • 68% thought it was a part of their role to teach it.
  • We also found that although 61% of teachers said they had planned a lesson based around environmental sustainability, 55% of teachers felt they had not received sufficient training and 52%, had never heard of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Furthermore, current teaching was strongly focused on environmental sustainability, while economic and social elements were much less present in the curriculum.
  • There was also a lack of awareness of the high-quality resources available from charities, membership organisations and content providers.

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