If education is the passport to the future and children are the future, then educating children about climate change is critical. And when 75% of teachers have not received enough training to educate students on climate change[1], cue social enterprises to provide solutions!

As children return to the classroom this week, here are a couple of examples of social enterprises that are educating our young people for an inclusive and sustainable future:

Maintenant and teacher resources

Award-winning social enterprise Maintenant produces fun and inspiring educational material for schools, children and families. Teachers and professionals are given access to scientific information to understand the impact of our common actions from an environmental and social perspective. Their multi-faceted approach maximises the learning through DIVERSITY DECK® card games and their online educational hub and school and corporate trainings promote the Sustainable Development Goals, circular economy and science.  Despite only being four years’ old, Maintenant reached almost 1,300 children in eight schools in 2019.

We don’t want to overwhelm teachers with lengthy, expensive courses and extra qualifications that are only possible for one or two teachers within a school. Our ECO HUB provides bitesize courses enabling teachers to think about different topics and case studies in different ways and provide resources and videos to help.

Did you know that COVID-19 is a zoonose – and that zoonoses are on the rise due to climate change? Read more from Maintenant about how we prevent global pandemics in future.

Green Schools Project and Teaching Carbon Costing

What about practical application of climate education? Green Schools Project is a London-based social enterprise which delivers programmes in schools to equip staff and students to calculate their school’s carbon impact, then take actions to reduce it.

Founder Henry Greenwood left his job as Head of Maths at a Hackney secondary school in 2015 to set up Green Schools Project, which supports young people and schools to tackle the climate crisis. For Henry, this isn’t just a day job. Arrested in 2020 for his role in the climate protests he helped set up the Hackney Extinction Rebellion group[2] and supported the school climate strikes.

‘Itfeels staggering that it took until 2018 for climate change to become a mainstream concern, but at least it is now happening […] I’ve never particularly been the rebellious type […] But this is a different kind of rebellion […] delivered by ordinary people who care about our living planet and our collective future.

In assemblies we tell students about the reality that they are facing and how they can play a part in addressing the greatest challenge we face. I’m not planning to encourage students in the schools that we are working with to go on strike, that’s entirely for them to decide, but we stand squarely in solidarity with the young people choosing to take this action and support their call for a planet that is still habitable by the time that they are adults.‘[3]

Green Schools Project is launching the next stage of its Zero Carbon Schools Programme from this September. The programme will provide schools with an educational opportunity to involve pupils in the school’s journey towards zero carbon emissions. It includes plans and resources for a series of 30 pupil sessions, teacher training, a peer support system, and support to calculate the school’s carbon footprint and take steps to reduce it. This is a link to a series of 4 resources to help young people learn more about the climate crisis.

And so many more social enterprises driving change…

These are two examples of many, including Lovelylands, who design and deliver nature programmes with schools and community groups in Shropshire and surrounding areas. And the social enterprise forest schools, like Bee in the Woods in Brighton.

The importance of sustainability in early years is highlighted by social enterprise London Early Years Foundation’s recent publication 50 Fantastic Ideas for Sustainability, a book to accompany their accredited Level 4 qualification on sustainability in early years.

Social enterprises integrate principles of social and climate justice at their core, allowing them to pursue solutions of comprehensive benefit to people and planet. It’s exciting to think that more and more school children are being given insights into how this works from a young age.

By Kristyna Stacelikova and Emily Darko

[1] https://www.teachthefuture.uk/teacher-research

[2] https://www.greenschoolsproject.org.uk/why-i-decided-to-get-arrested/

[3] https://www.greenschoolsproject.org.uk/extinction-rebellion-and-school-climate-strikes/