Bringing environmental education home

A blog post by Barry Fisher

Barry Fisher
Chief Executive

Posted 12/05/2020

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In these difficult and unprecedented times, as so many people, like me, try to juggle working from home with home schooling, while the global Covid-19 health pandamic changes the way we live - it is essential that we all support each other.

Keep Scotland Beautiful has been working with Scotland’s young people on environmental issues, in particular climate change through the world-leading Eco-Schools programme for more than 25 years. 

We hear first-hand about the issues young people and educators care about and need more information on – climate change is one of them. And, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by our young people that that impact of the actions we are all taking to protect those around us from the spread of coronavirus has been beneficial to our environment.

Never before have we needed to support educators, parents and young people as much as we do now.  Never before, have we seen an opening to reach our young people and to encourage them to consider the parallels of the decisive, and difficult action being taken to get through this public health crisis and those we will need to combat the climate and nature crises in the years and decades to come.

With some young people feeling frustrated, confused and isolated it has been heartening to see teachers demonstrating their initiative and creativity by using a range of online platforms.  As parents are learning to become teachers too we have been working hard to make our resources digitally available to all in the home.  And, we are delighted to be doing this in partnership with e-Sgoil.

Barry and his daughters making a bug hotel during lockdown

Over the past weeks we have been developing online learning content for our Climate Ready Classrooms programme aimed at secondary school pupils and educators, funded by the Scottish Government.  We have reframed our Pocket Garden competition into a Pop-Up Pocket Garden initiative which all, from the age of 3-18, can use to help them dig into outdoor learning, and our team has repackaged the Eco-Schools programme to be delivered in the home for primary school age. We are also encouraging young people to write, film or photograph their views of the environment at this time and submit them to the international Young Reporters competition.

We kicked off online teaching on 1 May and have been engaging with teachers and pupils directly through a variety of courses.

The activities we are providing through e-Sgoil are fun, practical and suitable for families to do together – while not subject based, they provide a stimulus for creativity, imagination and encourage young people to develop a curiosity to explore their environment and the challenges it faces.  

We strongly feel that there is no better time to bring the environment to people while they are confined to their homes and gardens and only able to take short local walks or cycles.  The current situation has forced people to adapt and change behaviours – some of which are already having a positive impact on our health and our environment.  

It is vital that, as well as traditional academic subjects we capture these beneficial environmental behaviour changes so young people can embed them in their actions once we emerge from this crisis.

We support the