02 February 2024 • 7 Mins Read

Why Climate Education Must Go Beyond The Classroom

When the earth is changing faster than ever before, climate action and education is consistently at the top of the agenda for many of us.

The topic increasingly dominates popular media; from the proposal of the Climate Education Bill, to the introduction of the new natural history GCSE, the implementation of a model science curriculum, the acceleration of carbon literacy training for sustainability leads in schools, not to mention the increase in organised student climate protests across the UK.

All these developments are expected to make the UK education sector a world leader in climate change by 2030, and to prepare young people for the green jobs of the future. However, despite these changes and developments, only 4% of students feel that they know a lot about climate change and 70% of teachers feel that they haven’t received adequate training to educate students about climate change (Teach the Future, 2023).

Whatever your standpoint on climate action and education, most can agree that the climate crisis is not only a scientific issue, but also a moral and ethical problem. It affects the wellbeing of present and future generations, and therefore, climate education and action are essential to build a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient world.

Why do we need climate education beyond the classroom?

The case for climate education extending beyond the classroom is just an imperative. If we truly want to students to take action, it starts with them being inspired, empowered, and motivated leaders of change.

For this purpose, climate education should not be limited to the classroom, but should also involve the wider community and society. That should involve engaging with different thought leaders, experiencing new environments, opportunities to improve social skills, participating in educational activities and workshops, and discovering new and inspiring concepts.

What’s next?

If you’re looking for ways to inspire your students on climate action outside the classroom, our climate change event, Earth Summit, returns for a second year from 24-25 June 2024 at Keele University.

The event is for all Key Stage 4 & 5 students, with strong links to a range of examination board specifications, and also helps schools and colleges meet the Gatsby Benchmarks for world class careers provision, which are enshrined in statutory guidance.

The 2-day event includes a series of presentations from experts in the climate change industry, two hands-on workshops, as well as the chance to experience university life at Keele University, which is leading the sector in sustainability.

Keep reading to find out why Earth Summit and climate education outside the classroom is pivotal to student learning and empowerment.

1. The chance to engage with industry leaders

Climate change is a global issue that affects us all, not just students. By engaging with different stakeholders, such as local authorities, climate organisations, and industry leaders outside the classroom, climate education can encourage open dialogue, greater collaboration, and innovation for climate solutions.

2. Get real answers to real questions

We need inspirational and practical solutions if we are to protect the futures of the present and future generations, which includes getting real answers to the questions that matter to them.

Young people are more digitally savvy than ever before, with nearly one-fifth of 16 to 24-year-olds spending as many as seven hours online every day (IAB, 2023). However, misinformation online can also lead to misdirection and confusion in the classroom.

Climate education outside the classroom enables students to ask the questions they want answers to, and to get real answers. This could be amongst their peers and teachers, but also industry experts, thought leaders, and anyone already taking action to achieve a more sustainable and green future.

“It has been really good at opening up to young people that sustainability as an industry is rapidly growing and that there’s all sorts of opportunities out there for them.” – Teacher attending Earth Summit, 2023

3. Gain knowledge and feel empowered

Climate education outside the classroom can help students apply their learning to real-life situations, such as participating in campaigns, developing climate projects, and championing sustainability initiatives. This can improve their motivation, creativity, and problem-solving skills, as well as their sense of empowerment.

It can also help to develop their critical thinking, scientific knowledge, and ethical awareness, which are essential for making independent and informed decisions about the environment.

Participating in activities and workshops centred on climate change also helps students to embed learning principles, with most science teachers viewing practical work as an essential feature that leads to better long-term learning (ASE, 2016).

4. Inspire students to become active citizens

Climate education outside the classroom can also inspire students to become active citizens and leaders for climate action, on a local and global level. By connecting with other students and industry leaders, they can share their experiences, and perspectives, as well as influence decision-making processes and policies on climate change.

When we inspire and empower students to become leaders of change and advocates for climate justice, they become invested in climate action and influencing policymaking in the future.

“It’s made me want to do more and when I go home, do little things to change.” – Student attending Earth Summit, 2023

Get involved in 2024

If you’re interested in attending Earth Summit 2024, find out more or request a quote here, or take a look at our 2023 highlights video below for more inspiration.