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Department for Education: Climate Change

Question for Department for Education

UIN 4444, tabled on 16 January 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of climate change on the work of his Department; and what steps he is taking in response to that effect.

This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.

Answered on

24 January 2020

The Department of Education is supporting sustainability both through the content taught to students, and through supporting our schools to become more sustainable institutions.

It is important that young people are taught about climate change and sustainability. Topics related to this are included in both the science and geography curriculum and qualifications. For example, in primary science pupils are taught about how environments can change as a result of human actions. In secondary science, pupils are taught about the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the effect this has on the climate. This is expanded on in GCSE science where pupils will consider the evidence for additional anthropogenic causes of climate change. As part of GCSE geography pupils will look at the causes, consequences of and responses to extreme weather conditions and natural weather hazards. In 2017, we also introduced a new environmental science A level. This will enable students to study topics that will support their understanding of climate change and how it can be tackled.

In addition, sustainability content will be included in T levels, new post-16 technical study programs. In setting outline content, the T level panels of employers and industry experts must consider the inclusion of sustainability as relevant to their sector. For example, in Construction, T level students will be required to learn about renewable energy and emerging technologies to support energy efficiency.

The Department support sustainability through our capital funding and programmes, both to reduce carbon and save schools money on energy. Schools can use their condition funding to invest in improving energy efficiency. Furthermore, interest free loans for energy efficiency projects in maintained schools are available through the Government backed Salix finance scheme. Salix loans have also been made available to academies through an annual application process. More broadly, we are working with colleagues across the Government on carbon reduction and energy efficiency and developing thinking on how future capital programmes can contribute further.

During procurements, Department for Education considers how this might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area, where this is relevant to the subject matter of the contract.

From April, the Department will begin implementation of new government guidance on Social Value, which requires central Government Departments to take account of social impact as part of the award criteria where this is linked to the subject matter of the contract and proportionate. This may include reducing environmental impacts.

Interests declared
The Member has declared that they have interests which may be relevant to the subject matter of this question.