Since May 2010 there are many changes to the English Education system and the role of ESD and EE.

Here is a short recent history of sustainability in the curriculum. It shows how 2003 – 2010 was the heyday, but much has been removed since. Read more…

If you think these changes are unusual this website shows  how the education system has been tinkered with every year since the 1800’s. try to find a mention of sustainability or environmental education!

Here are some of the policy statements and links you might find useful:

The Shrinking the Footprint campaign:
“[…] will work with public and voluntary schemes for ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ and encourage all 4,700 church schools by 2016 to be ‘sustainable schools’ […] as promoted by network agencies such as SEEd.”

Church and Earth, 2009-2016: The Church of England’s Seven-Year Plan on Climate Change and the Environment, ed. Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, p. 39

UNESCO UKNC Report on ESD 2010
“Networks and partnerships for ESD in schools and HE continue to flourish, in particular (for schools) driven by the re-configuration of the Council for Environmental Education as Sustainability and Environmental Education (SEEd), and through regional and devolved administration networks that involve government and non-government stakeholders working in partnership.”

Education for Sustainable Development in the UK in 2010, in ‘Networks and Partnership Initiatives: Examples of Key National ESD Players’, p.10


“We also endorse the new Sustainable Schools Alliance, led by the National Children’s Bureau and Sustainability and Environmental Education, which was launched in March 2011.”

The Natural Choice: Securing the Value of Nature, ed. The Rt Hon. Caroline Spelman MP, p.48

Here is the latest reply from DfE about Sustainable schools, and ESD.

It was to Professors Bill Scott and Stev Martin. For more see Bill Scott’s Blog or Ann Finlayson’s blog.


“Dear Professors Martin and Scott

Thank you for your email to the Secretary of State of 23 November 2014 about Education and Sustainable Development.

Firstly, I should like to apologise for the unacceptable delay in replying.  This was the result of problems arising from our move to a new correspondence handling process.

Owing to the heavy diary commitments of what was this autumn a relatively new ministerial team in England, and the post-Referendum reshuffle of responsibilities in Scotland, it was not possible for a Minister from the United Kingdom to attend the UNESCO Conference in Japan.

The Government is very supportive of opportunities being made available to schools in England to incorporate education for sustainable development (ESD) into their teaching but believes that schools themselves are best placed to make decisions about how they do this. In our recent review of the national curriculum, one of our key aims was to give teaching professionals more autonomy to decide what and how to teach.

Schools may incorporate sustainable development in their teaching within the broad framework of the citizenship curriculum.  Additionally, the new programmes of study for geography and science cover this issue from key stage 3 and focus on the key concepts in science and geography, rather than political, economic or social debates on this topic. In order for children to develop a firm understanding of climate change, it is essential that it is taught as a carefully sequenced progression, starting with the fundamental concepts and relevant background knowledge which underpin this topic.
In science, primary school pupils will be taught the scientific concepts that underpin weather, climate and biodiversity. For instance, in key stage 1, pupils will be taught to observe changes across the four seasons, including the weather associated with the seasons and how the length of the day varies. In key stage 2, pupils will be taught about the part played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle and to associate the rate of evaporation with elements such as temperature. They will learn that environments can change, and that this can pose dangers to living things. They will also learn about the concept of gases and the movement of the earth relative to the sun.

All of these topics provide a firm foundation for the study of climate science in key stage 3, where pupils will be taught about the composition of the atmosphere, the carbon cycle and the importance of recycling. Ecosystems and biodiversity will be covered again in more depth. Crucially, pupils will also be taught specifically about the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the effect that this has on the climate.

In geography, pupils will be given more information about the different types of weather and climate in particular parts of the world, and the processes that give rise to them. In key stage 1, pupils will be taught about seasonal and daily weather patterns in the UK, and the location of hot and cold areas of the world. In physical geography at key stage 2, pupils will learn about climate zones, biomes, vegetation belts and the water cycle.   At key stage 3, pupils will be taught about change in the climate from the Ice Age to the present.

Support for international school linking, curriculum materials and teacher training for ESD are also available to schools through two Government-funded programmes: DfID’s Global Learning Programme (GLP) and the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme. The GLP supports schools to equip their pupils to make a positive contribution to a globalised world by helping teachers to deliver effective teaching and learning about development and global issues.  Connecting Classrooms gives young people the chance to collaborate with international peers, brings challenging global issues to life and establishes meaningful cross-cultural relationships.  In addition, it provides specially developed resources to help schools in the UK and their partner schools to explore a number of social, environmental, and cultural themes.

Finally, you are no doubt aware that Bristol has received £7 million of additional funding from Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, to support it as European Green Capital in 2015.  The funding will deliver a range of projects, including a sustainable living programme in UK schools to educate up to 4.5 million children about climate change and how cities can contribute to tackling this issue.

Once again, my apologies for the delay in responding to your email.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2014/0077161. If you need to respond to us, please visit:, and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely,

Lorna Bertrand
International Education Division”