Ambassadors scheme key to boosting climate understanding

Every school, college and university in England will have free access to expert support to become greener and more climate resilient
Helping youngsters to learn how climate change is impacting their planet is one of the goals of a new £2 million Department for Education initiative involving the University of Reading.

Every school, college and university in England will have free access to expert support to become greener and more climate resilient as part of the scheme.

Baroness Barran MBE said:
“I’m very pleased that the work of climate ambassadors will be led by the University of Reading and STEM Learning as part of the climate action plans. 

“Climate ambassadors have already helped more than 80,000 learners and educators to include climate education in the curriculum and reduce their environmental impact. Their expertise will be crucial in supporting teachers, school and college leaders, and everyone understand and develop climate resilience in the education system.”
All 30,000 education settings in England will be able to access the Climate Action Planning Sector Engagement and Support Service (SESS) and get help in producing unique Climate Action Plans. The plans will help education settings to boost climate education, promote green careers, reduce carbon emissions, increase biodiversity and allow them to become more resilient to climate extremes.

The scheme is an expansion of the Climate Ambassadors programme created by the University of Reading and STEM Learning as one outcome of the National Climate Education Action Plan. Since April 2022, the scheme has seen 236 Climate Ambassadors reach more than 80,000 learners and teachers in 534 schools, colleges and universities.

The new project will be co-led by the University of Reading and EAUC, in association with STEM Learning. EAUC is the national sustainability charity for Universities in the UK. This will be a collaboration involving Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Newcastle, University of Leeds, Keele University, Universities for Nottingham, the University of East Anglia, the Met Office and University College London along with other national partners at Hopscotch Consulting and Change Agents.

This service will sit alongside a digital support hub designed to inspire and equip all education settings in England, providing easily accessible guidance and information to Sustainability Leads and their wider education setting to help facilitate the creation, implementation and delivery of Climate Action Plans.

Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, the University of Reading climate scientist who led the Climate Ambassador scheme's creation, said:

“We’ve had wonderful success with our climate education activities over the past two years.

"Passing on the expertise of our ambassadors has helped teachers make climate and the environment a feature of their lessons in all subjects, and young people to become advocates for our planet from an early age. We have amazing expertise in climate and sustainability right across the country, in our universities, in the private sector and in charities and government. Climate Ambassadors is about unlocking that expertise for the benefit of our education system.

“Nurseries, schools and colleges are the lifeblood of our communities and connect people in ways that few other organisations do. They are places where we can join together in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. As we grow the scheme, the number of connections we will make between those who have something to give and those who need help will only get bigger and better.”

Professor Robert Van De Noort, Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading, said:
“Reading is a world leader in sustainability and environment research, making us well-placed to support the government's critical work in climate education. Recently, we were ranked as the greenest University in the UK and recognised for our outstanding contribution to environmental leadership. 

“The University embeds environmental stewardship in everything it does and we hope the expansion of the Climate Ambassadors scheme will mean other schools, colleges and universities also put the planet front and centre. Curriculum development and teacher training programs will nurture climate literacy, spur youth activism and equip young people with the tools to drive positive change."
Climate Action Plans

The Climate Action Planning SESS will establish nine regional hubs across England, hosted by 12 universities and organisations with expertise in sustainability. These hubs will recruit and support volunteers from industry and academia to work as Climate Ambassadors.
The ambassadors will provide advice and support to nurseries, schools, colleges and universities in developing Climate Action Plans across 4 key areas — sustainability leadership, climate science, environmental education, and communications and digital infrastructure.

Climate resilience

Partner organisations will tailor their support to the needs of each school, college or university.
As well as providing resources and guidance on areas like energy use and enhancing biodiversity, experts will also help education settings to build resilience to extreme weather events. For example, schools vulnerable to flooding will get more help to prevent damage and cope with its impacts.
The expanded Climate Ambassadors scheme will launch in March 2024 and aims to rapidly scale up support for English schools, colleges and universities to support the DfE's sustainability and climate change goals.

Please do not hesitate to contact EAUC if you have queries about this scheme.

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