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Our Week of Climate Action

A blog post by Andrea Gabriel

Andrea Gabriel
Education and Learning Officer

Posted 22/10/2021

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We thought it was important for young people to have the opportunity to learn about climate change ahead of COP26 so in September, we were delighted to offer Climate Action Week - a series of five interactive lessons aimed at helping pupils understand what climate change is, its impacts, how we are contributing to this situation and how we can contribute to its solution.  

These lessons were supported with resources and activities for pupils to carry out after each lesson. At the end of the week, each class had an Action Plan to work towards and we celebrated with a One Planet Picnic.  

Andrea Gabriel, our Education & Learning Officer, was instrumental in organising Climate Action Week.  In this blog, she describes how she was inspired by our friends at Keep Wales Tidy, and how much she enjoyed teaching classes of pupils about such an important issue.

Life really is like a box of chocolates. Forrest Gump was right; you never know what you can get. Sweet surprises for sure.

In April this year we got in touch with our lovely friends from Keep Wales Tidy, just as a way of catching up and sharing experiences from what have been challenging times as we moved all Eco-Schools training and support to an online setting. But, that catch up happened just before they embarked on an even more interesting venture: a week of live lessons on climate change for schools who were not Eco-Schools! And our Welsh friends, being of the great nature they are, immediately invited us to join and witness the lessons.

What a marvellous experience it was and what a huge amount we learned!

Almost one hundred primary schools greeting each other ‘Bore da!’ over the chat every morning; a lovely atmosphere for learning; interesting lessons accompanied by demonstrations of experiments; guest speakers talking about the forests and peatlands in Wales; great engagement with schools sharing photos of activities they were doing after each lesson... It simply blew our minds! And we boldly thought, ‘if they could do it, we can do it too!’. And that’s how our own journey towards what became Climate Action Week for schools began.

The excitement of what we observed in Wales was quickly fuelled by the thought of COP26 taking place soon, and the launch of a long-discussed new Climate Action topic for our Eco-Schools programme in Scotland.  We felt it was the right time to move forward with our Climate Action offer.

So, what started as an idea of doing something similar to our friends in Wales, quickly developed into an offer that included CPD sessions for teachers, workshops for Eco-Committees in high schools, a week of live lessons for upper primary classes, and an invitation to classes of all ages to send a message to COP26 leaders about their future through an initiative we called ‘Dear World Leaders’.

By mid-June the announcement of ‘we are thinking about doing this, let us know if you would be interested in taking part’ came out quite timidly from our website, newsletter and email. Only Libby will be able to really express what enthusiasm this unleashed.!

 

Around 450 teachers took part of the training sessions we developed and delivered on One Planet Picnic in the Context of Climate Action and COP26. Over 400 classes of upper primary schools trusted us and joined lessons every morning – that is approximately 10,000 pupils a day. All of whom were able to meet Walker the polar bear, Claire the Scottish wildcat, the 127 penguins (all of which have unique names!) and the sleepy koala whose name I can’t quite remember, thanks to the fantastic partnership we have with RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. We also had around 40 Eco-Committees and classes from high schools who joined us to learn about ways to tackle climate change at levels they can influence in, like fast fashion (and fast shopping); data, streaming and use of devices; food choices and food waste. Pupils from literally all over the country could greet each other every morning and feel they were connected through us and our shared care and passion for the planet. A large number of schools posted or sent us photos of the activities they were doing throughout the days inspired by us, and the most amazing entries for Dear World Leaders are still coming in.

What a marvellous experience it was and what a huge amount we learned! We know that organising and facilitating something like this takes A LOT of work, but that it was ok, doable, and enjoyable, as we had each other’s backs. We learned that crazy ideas like this get even better when you open them and invite colleagues from other teams and external partners such as Edinburgh Zoo to share their own and unique expertise with the children. We learned that when all goes wrong and panic spreads because we pressed the wrong buttons and settings, we were (and are) never alone, and our IT team were standing strongly there, like guardian angels, ready to catch us falling and fix the problems. We learned that Cat and Jamie are an extremely natural, quick and funny anchor couple, who could comfortably be working on tv. We learned that #TeamKSBScot can achieve so much more that we thought and reach even more young people and educators that we first anticipated.

We learned that there is a desire, need and opportunity for these type of learning offers, which has left us all thinking ‘what are we going to do next?!’. And most surprisingly, we learned that polar bears’ fur is actually translucent! How amazing is that!

 

If you'd like to use our week of lessons on climate change for your primary class, please have a look at our Climate Action Week page for videos and resources to support climate action in your classroom.  If you teach in a secondary school, we can offer accredited carbon literacy sessions called Climate Ready Classrooms.  You might also like to have a look at the beautiful pictures, letters and poems sent in for our Dear World Leaders project.

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