Meeting the United Kingdom’s 1st Climate Change Professor

Pupils at Down Hall Primary School in Rayleigh, Essex, will this week be the first children in the country to learn about the climate crisis from a UN-accredited teacher.

Bec Wakefield, a reception class teacher at the local state primary school, has become the first UK teacher to be accredited under a new Climate Change Teacher program run in partnership with the UN.

The scheme, launched on April 22, has been designed to equip educators with the knowledge and confidence to deliver lessons on the topic of climate change to their class and across the school curriculum.

“We are delighted to be able to support this important educational initiative in the United Kingdom,” said Angus Mackay, director of the UN Institute for Training and Research. “Anyone below the age of 20 is part of the ‘climate generation’ living all or most of their lives having to deal with climate change. The Climate Change Teacher Training Academy is an excellent idea because it will give children an intuitive understanding of the issues and it is solutions-based.”

Wakefield said she plans to use her new training both to educate her class on climate change and encourage them to take action, but also to share best practice tips with her colleagues.

“I am passionate about the environment and being the first Climate Change Teacher in the UK is really exciting,” she said. “It was an easy course to do and I am delighted to be sharing my new knowledge with the class and the rest of the school. Making the next generation climate literate is one of the most important things we can do for our children right now.”

The scheme was created by education resources organization Harwood Education, in collaboration with The One United Nations Climate Change Learning Partnership. It is free for teachers to join, with sponsorship provided by UK education supplier YPO.

The five-part course covers topics including climate change science, gender and environment, children and climate change, cities and climate change, and human health.

Harwood Education aims to trial the course in 80 schools over the next two months. The complete program will then be made available to all schools across the UK, with the first lessons expected to be delivered in the classroom from September 2019.