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Ecology: Education

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of pupils studying for examinations in subjects relevant to the understanding of climate change. (206186)

The Department has produced new resources over the last academic year to embed sustainability in the curriculum and encourage young people to learn about issues like climate change. As part of the Action Plan for Geography, teaching resources have been developed for the new secondary curriculum to be taught in schools from September 2008, and these include modules on climate change. Environmental interaction and sustainable development are key concepts in the new Key Stage 3 geography curriculum. Making the curriculum more relevant for pupils and reforming teaching and learning through the Action Plan for Geography are likely to have a positive impact on the numbers of pupils choosing to study for geography GCSE.

Issues affecting climate change are also covered in the secondary science curriculum. The Government are committed to increasing the number of young people studying for science qualifications and to help achieve this aim it has put in place a robust programme of work supported by £140 million investment over the next three years. This includes introducing a statutory entitlement for all students to study science courses leading to at least two GCSEs from September 2007; introducing a non- statutory entitlement from September 2008 for all pupils achieving level 6 at key stage 3 to study triple science GCSE, supported by the triple science support programme now in place; providing additional incentives to recruit more high quality science graduates into teaching; improving the quality of teaching by making available good quality continuing professional development through the network of Science Learning Centres; and providing good quality advice to key stage 3 pupils about the wide range of careers available to those who study science. The Department has also just embarked on a national communications strategy aimed at informing pupils, parents and others of the exciting opportunities that are open to students when they study science.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of schools provide courses including teaching on (a) ecosystems, (b) microclimates, (c) renewable energy and (d) sustainability. (206188)

All of these areas are covered by the statutory Key Stage 3 programme of study for geography, and renewable energy and sustainability are also covered in the Key Stage 3 and 4 programmes of study for science, so all schools should be teaching them.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent representations he has received on the efficacy of farm schools in educating children on environmental matters. (206192)

The Department has not received any recent representations on the efficacy of farm schools in educating children in environmental matters. However, through the our Growing Schools programme, we work very closely with organisations that promote children's understanding of food and agriculture, and the environmental issues linked to them, either through visits to farms or through growing within the school grounds.

Through the Growing Schools programme we have also supported the Year of Food and Farming, and funded the School Farms network to produce a resource to make the case for growing and keeping animals, and to guide schools step by step through everything from container growing to setting up school farms. The programme is also developing a new resource which considers how non-food crops are being used to produce renewable materials and fuels, and has close links with the Sustainable Schools Action Plan which shows how farms can help to highlight the sustainable "doorways" of food and drink, energy and water and local well-being.