STEM Subjects: Environmental Protection

Department for Education written question – answered on 31st March 2020.

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Photo of Richard Holden Richard Holden Conservative, North West Durham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government plans to take to incorporate the Environment Bill and it's proposals into the teaching of STEM subjects in schools.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

It is important that young people are taught about the issues addressed by the Environment Bill, including protecting the environment, climate change, and sustainability. Relevant topics are already included in both the science and geography curricula and qualifications.

In primary school science, pupils are taught about how environments can change as a result of human actions. They will learn about animals’ habitats, including that changes to the environment may pose dangers to living things. In secondary school science, pupils are taught about the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the effect this has on the climate. They will also learn about the efficacy of recycling and the importance of biodiversity. In GCSE science, pupils will consider the evidence for anthropogenic causes of climate change. They will study the impact of increased levels of carbon dioxide and methane and how this can be mitigated, alongside other pollutant gases. Pupils will also learn about renewable and non-renewable energy sources.

In secondary school geography, pupils will be taught about how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate, and how human activity relies on the effective functioning of natural systems. As part of GCSE geography, pupils will look at the causes, consequences of and responses to extreme weather conditions and natural weather hazards. In 2017, the Department introduced a new environmental science A Level. This will enable students to further study topics that will support their understanding of climate change and how it can be tackled.

Sustainability content will also be included in T Levels – the new post-16 technical study programmes. In setting the content, the T Level panels of employers and industry experts must consider the inclusion of sustainability as relevant to their sector. In construction, T Level students will be required to learn about renewable energy and emerging technologies to support energy efficiency.

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