On 22nd February, children, parents, teachers, activists, and academics marched to the Department for Education in London and held a rally and mock climate school on the road outside.
Organisers have recently published an open letter to the department, signed by 224 academics, calling for greater truth on issues such as climate change, loss of bio-diversity, failing crops, insect collapse, forced migration, and the many other warnings signifying that we must radically change the way our societies function in order to avoid catastrophe and possible extinction.
The current curriculum and education practice omits almost all of these issues, with no mention of climate change in primary lessons, only sparse references in secondary teaching, and no reference to the rapid warming of the last ten years, species collapse, and the predicted consequences of unchecked warming.
In an act of peaceful civil disobedience, teacher Tim Jones daubed the front of the building with the words “Tell The Truth” using a red chalk spray. Despite a large police presence and facial recognition surveillance, he was not arrested at the event.
Small children sat in a mock class shouting at their teacher about loss of species and global heating, while the teacher argued these problems were not part of the syllabus and there was no time to talk about them – while funny at the time, this is unfortunately all too real.
The open letter demands training for teachers, the ecological and climate crisis to be made a priority, and an immediate overhaul of the curriculum to help pupils be prepared for the realities of the future on this planet. It also offered support and encouragement for the school strike movement.
The next national school strike will be on 15th March. More info at ukscn.org


10,000 lessons: 5 lessons per school day x 190 schools days per year x 11 years = 10,450.

Present curriculum:

  • There is no direct reference to ‘climate change’ or species extinction in primary curriculum.

  • Secondary curriculum has sparse references, nothing about species loss or ecological breakdown; evidence for anthropogenic effects is mentioned as containing ‘uncertainties’ – the only use of this word in reference to evidence in entire Science curriculum.    

  • Geography KS3 might have 1 module, 6-12 lessons, and in KS4 one module, if students choose GCSE Geography, including some climate change.

  • Science may cover climate change in four lessons, potentially fewer.   

  • No reference anywhere in the curriculum to current mass extinction of species, rapid warming in last 10 years, predicted consequences of unchecked warming or the reasons why mitigation has failed so far.


KS1 and 2:

  • (Students should) ‘understand how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate’.

  • No direct mention of climate change.

  • KS3 Science

  • In Chemistry 1 of 8 areas of study is ‘Earth and Atmosphere’ of which one of 7 sub-topics is the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the impact on climate (one page or less in a text book).

KS3 Geography:

  • (Students should understand) ‘physical geography relating to: geological timescales and plate tectonics; rocks, weathering and soils; weather and climate, including the change in climate from the Ice Age to the present; and glaciation, hydrology and coasts’

  • No direct reference to climate change, though many schools could do one full module on the topic – which, for the majority of state educated students, would be the only time climate change is studied in any depth (as in for more than one consecutive lesson).

KS4 science:

  • In Biology, Ecology is 1 of 7 areas of study within which ‘global warming’ is one of 20 topics (1 page in a text book) explained in terms of both human and natural causes.

  • In Chemistry one of 10 areas of study is Use of Resources – do direct reference to climate change

KS4 Geography:

  • GCSE divided into 4 areas of study. In the first of these climate change is 1 of 12 modules and summarised as follows:

  • ‘Climate change is the result of natural and human factors, and has a range of effects.

  • Possible causes of climate change:

    • natural factors – orbital changes, volcanic activity and solar output

    • human factors – use of fossil fuels, agriculture and deforestation.’

This constitutes a page or thereabouts – a reference within a sub-topic.


  • One reference to climate change in terms of religious and other attitudes towards our human role as stewards of the planet (one lesson and climate change only an element of that lesson).

In Science, Geography and RE there are references to the effects of human activity on the environment, pollution, resource management, energy use etc. But these issues are never brought together and the reality of the unraveling catastrophe is just not in the curriculum.