Our prime minister, Rishi Sunak, made five grand pledges at the start of this year, the first being “we will halve inflation this year to ease the cost of living and give people financial security”. But where is the plan of action? What is the government going to do to help our people? What plans are in place to support the 15 million people – over half the households in the UK – who are now in fuel poverty as of January 2023?
The charity I work for – Energy Heroes – is stepping in to help people address some of the challenges we currently face over fuel poverty, climate change and the cost of living. We are running a free online session for primary teachers, looking at how to effectively teach about climate change and energy through the current primary maths curriculum.
Sunak’s pledges failed to mention the climate crisis
Within Sunak’s speech and the all-important pledges, there was zero mention of the climate crisis, environmental collapse or the root causes of the energy crisis and the impact that our fossil fuel dependency is having on the planet. The sweeping promises ignore the biggest problems we face as humanity and offer no light at the end of the tunnel.
I have hope that the world will be better for our children, but with climate change accelerating faster than science has predicted, there is a dangerous and uncertain future ahead. Globally, approximately one billion children, nearly half of the world’s children, live in countries at extremely high risk of “climate and environmental hazards, shocks and stresses”. There is not a child in the world who is safe from the impacts of climate change.
2022 saw record-breaking heat waves in the UK and across the globe. It was the warmest year ever recorded in the 364-year Central England Temperature (CET) series that started in 1659 (the world’s longest instrumental record of temperature. Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Thailand and Australia were some of the countries to experience catastrophic, unprecedented flooding, and wildfires continued out of control around the world.
We are facing a looming potential global food security crisis as farmers struggle to save their crops from extreme weather events such as flooding and heatwaves, and drought has been prevalent, left in the wake of the extreme heat throughout the year.
Educational reform is needed
Sunak talks about improving education by providing basic maths courses for an ever-changing world, while omitting the largest threat that faces all of the younger generations today. It is time we offer our young people a little more than this in order to increase their chances of a safe and prosperous future.
What we need is a swift reform of the education system and curriculum, where the children today are taught knowledge and skills that they will need in the real future we are heading into. Knowledge to address questions such as:
- What is the climate crisis and how has it been caused?
- What can we do to halt and reverse the changes?
- What impacts are likely to be felt here and around the world? and
- How do we overcome the struggles that we will be facing?
The adults of the future need to know how to protect nature and their environment, how to harvest and treat water to drink, how to grow their own food, how to conserve energy and harness it from natural sources, how to build and fix resources, and how to communicate and collaborate with their communities.
There are so many groups and organisations that have compiled and created comprehensive curriculums, that deliver the core skills of numeracy and literacy through the real-life context of our changing world, the changing climate and the future that is here already.
One example is the charity I work for, Energy Heroes. Our program demonstrates how key stage 2 maths can be taught through the exploration of local data associated with climate change and energy use. We can make school and learning effective and relevant, provide a tool to understand the current world and develop skills to thrive in it, and give our children the best chance of being prepared for their lives ahead.
The Energy Heroes team is running a free online session for primary school teachers on 19 January at 4pm. The session will explore some of these ideas and offer support to teachers who wish to provide a more useful curriculum to their students. It will help them to understand climate change, save money for schools and families and reduce our impact on the environment.
These lessons have never been so important, and with so many young people now living in fuel poverty, every penny that we can help them save at home could have a substantial improvement for the families at home. You can register for this free workshop here.
The prime minister and this government are failing our children and the world. It is up to us to deliver the education we know is necessary.