A CUMBRIAN school is leading the way in tackling climate change.
Castle Carrock Primary School has become one of the first in the UK to be given UN accreditation to teach climate change.
Rebecca Stacey, headteacher at the village primary school, is one of the first headteachers to complete the new UN Climate Change course.
It has been designed to give teachers the knowledge to teach young people about the causes and effects of climate change.
David Attenborough brought the issue of climate change to the forefront of people’s minds, while the Extinction Rebellion protests in April propelled the issue onto the mainstage.
Inspired by 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, who protested at her country’s lack of action on the issue, Youth Strike 4 Climate organised protests in towns and cities across the UK – including Carlisle. Schoolchildren walked out of classes to make a stand – urging the Government to act now to ensure there was a world fit for them to live in.
“[The UN course] struck me as something useful because in primary, the children bring it to us,” Mrs Stacey explained.
“They watch Attenborough’s Planet Earth and things like this and they bring it to us – a lot of the time we’re a step behind so it’s really nice to get the science right, get the facts straight… and hopefully get the children engaged with it all.”
For Castle Carrock School, Mrs Stacey’s accreditation means she is the resident expert on climate change and so can confidently explain to children what it means for their futures.
“I haven’t done a specific lesson yet but I have spoken to them about it and told them what I am doing,” she continued.
“It’s about having these conversations with them, whereas in the past I may not have been as confident.”
In the confusing and constantly changing world of climate change science and policy, it is difficult to make the topics accessible for adults let alone for children.
The UN course focuses on five different areas: climate change science; gender and environment; children and climate change; cities and climate change; and human health.
Readings in the course are supported by “interesting film footage” and other materials to make the complex subject mildly easier to make sense of.
“Once I have got that information that is my art-form, I can then transfer that into the classroom,” said Mrs Stacey.
“Having it visually as well as written out is a good way to do it, because the children can relate to some of this.”
The course is currently in the first phase of training up teachers across the country, before the second phase is launched which will see the courses transferred into the curriculum.
In the meantime, Castle Carrock School is giving children more practical ways to learn about climate change.
This includes growing their own vegetables, working towards the eco-school award, and cutting back on the use of paper within the school.