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Michael Gove has listened to the headline demands for climate change but weakened the curriculum when it comes to sustainable development. This government pledged to be the greenest yet but this message doesn't seem to have reached the education department when applied to the natural world.

"We welcome the inclusion of climate change in the geography curriculum at key stage 3, although we're seriously concerned about the lack of learning about sustainability and climate change at primary level. Even at secondary level, students are only required to learn the facts about how humans cause climate change. Missing is the broader understanding and debate about sustainable human and societal interaction with the environment on which we all depend.

"Children have a right to the skills, understanding and knowledge they need to prepare them for and ensure that they have a sustainable future. If government won't show leadership around the sustainability agenda in schools, it will be for schools themselves to take up the challenge. There are many schools out there doing just that: we urge every school to do so, using the greater flexibility offered by the slimmed down core curriculum. And WWF will continue to support schools and young people in learning about climate change and sustainability."

Michael Gove announced that climate change will be reinstated in the geography curriculum at Key Stage 3 (age 11-14), following calls from a range of campaigners, scientists, conservationists, students and politicians. However, the curriculum is still lacking in any reference to sustainable development, and climate change is not included in the primary curriculum.

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Editor's notes

· There is no reference to climate change anywhere in the new curriculum before Key Stage 3, which means children younger than 11 will be missing out on learning about this critical issue for their futures.

· There is no reference to sustainability, sustainable development or responsibility to care for the environment anywhere in the new curriculum. This was previously embedded throughout the geography curriculum, with understanding of how people can improve or damage the environment built in from key stage 1, and in science where learning to care for the environment also started at key stage 1.

· Overall, the new emphasis on knowledge and facts replaces a focus on values and responsibilities. The overall aims of the previous curriculum included these crucial elements:

"It [the National Curriculum] should develop their [pupils'] awareness and understanding of, and respect for, the environments in which they live, and secure their commitment to sustainable development at a personal, national and global level. It should also equip pupils as consumers to make informed judgements and independent decisions and to understand their responsibilities and rights."

"The school curriculum should pass on enduring values, develop pupils' integrity and autonomy and help them to be responsible and caring citizens capable of contributing to the development of a just society."

For further information, please contact:

Natalie Clark, T: +44 (0)1483 412253, E: nclark@wwf.org.uk

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