top of page

Survey: Climate Change in Education

Updated: Sep 26, 2022


Over the last year, the team has increased its focus on our environmental impact. We want to make sure that we continue to offer an ethical service not only in the work we do but in the way that we operate.


What are we doing?


  • We’ve set up an internal climate group

  • We’ve introduced a blended working policy that aims to reduce our travel time

  • We planted 150 trees in Hull, near to some of our schools

  • We’re mindful of our printing and other consumption

  • We’re considering our pension funds to include investment in ESG

  • And we try to consider the environment in all our decision making


But what about us as an educational psychology service - what is the role of an EP in tackling climate change?


The Psychology of Climate Change:


Climate change and its impact on children and young people is becoming more of a focus of research and more evident all around us. The UK government declared a climate emergency in 2019 and the most recent COP (COP-26) was held in Glasgow with national media coverage.

‘Fridays for Future’, a youth led and organised movement, has been going since Greta Thunberg started her protests in 2018.


A recent survey completed with 10,000 young people (16-25 years old) across 10 countries found that 59% of participants were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ worried about climate change and 84% were at least ‘moderately worried’.


“59% of young people surveyed were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ worried about climate change”

More than 45% of participants reported that their feelings about this issue affected their daily life and functioning. This research also highlighted the negative perception of responses by governments which compounded participant’s negative emotional states. For example, 65% of participants agreed with the statement that governments are failing young people (Lancet, 2017). The broad findings of this research has been replicated with younger cohorts.


Research commissioned by the Eden Project found that 65% of children 7-14 are frightened of climate change and 85% feel that the government should do more (Eden Project, 2022).


“65% of children 7-14 are frightened of climate change”

The term ‘eco-anxiety’ was defined as “a chronic fear of environmental doom” by the American Psychological Association in 2017 (APA, 2017). Terms to communicate this issue have multiplied and include ‘climate anxiety’, ‘eco grief’, ‘eco depression’ and ‘solastalgia’ in order to more adequately capture differing responses and feelings.


A growing number of people, however, challenge the use of these terms at all as it may communicate a ‘within-child’ issue. Instead, there is growing consensus that this response is actually a reasonable and proportionate one.


It is, therefore, important not only to listen to and support children and young people with their thoughts and feelings but also to help them question and challenge wider systems and organisations where they feel these are not adequately addressing the issue.

There is undoubtably a role for school staff although how this looks in practice will clearly be context dependent. Evidence suggests that children and young people want their voices to be heard on this issue. The climate crisis will affect the children and young people we are all working with far more than it will affect ourselves. UNICEF (2021) have conceptualised the climate crisis as a ‘child rights crisis’ with children in the global south being disproportionally affected but children across the globe experiencing the negative impact over time.


“UNICEF (2021) have conceptualised the climate crisis as a ‘child rights crisis’ with children in the global south being disproportionally affected but children across the globe experiencing the negative impact over time.”

Many adults feel unsure about how to address this, but this should not be a barrier. Guidance is out there, for example https://www.unicef.org/parenting/talking-your-child-about-climate-change and https://www.nrdc.org/stories/your-guide-talking-kids-all-ages-about-climate-change.


Other aspects of school can also be considered, for example the curriculum, green processes in school and opportunities for peer-peer support.


Help us do more: Complete our Survey


We want to hear from schools about what their focus on climate looks like. What can we do to support you and your young people?


  • Is climate anxiety an issue and if so, is it increasing?

  • Do you have climate groups?

  • Are your staff aware of the research into climate change and its impact on children and young people? Do they feel confident to talk to pupils about this issue and support them in these discussions?

  • Is climate change covered across the curriculum? For example, considering food choices in Food Technology, exploring the impact of the fossil fuel industry in science or discussing ideas such as stewardship of the planet in RE.

  • There are many forms our support could take from direct work with young people to policy and procedure development.


There are many forms our support could take from direct work with young people to policy and procedure development.


We would love to hear your thoughts and have put a short survey together. you can answer below or use the Survey Money link. It should only take a couple of minutes to complete:

Thank you for reading and helping us shape our service! We’ll keep you all updated on developments and our offer.




 

References:


APA, 2017: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/mental-health-climate.pdf


Lancet, 2017: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(21)00278-3/fulltext

https://www.unicef.org/media/105376/file/UNICEF-climate-crisis-child-rights-crisis.pdf


Eden Project, 2022: https://www.edenproject.com/media-relations/two-thirds-of-children-in-the-uk-are-scared-of-climate-change-major-new-survey


34 views0 comments
bottom of page