The UK’s newest Metro Mayor Jamie Driscoll is working to bring world-class environmental education to every school in the North of Tyne.

Each state-funded school in the combined authority area will have the opportunity to train one member of staff as a UN accredited climate change teacher.

The pledge, expected to be passed at North of Tyne cabinet meeting in Newcastle on Tuesday, is a world first and meets a key UN target for sustainable development.

Mayor Driscoll, who declared a climate emergency on his first day of taking office in May, said: We have partnered with the creators of the eduCCate Global UN CC Teacher Academy, to make sure every school in the North of Tyne has access to a fully-funded teacher training programme to get a UN accredited climate change teacher.

“This is our opportunity to be the first region in the world to meet this UN Sustainable Development Goal. It’s also a manifest commitment to give every child a world-class environmental education, and to make such progress so soon is fantastic.”

The creators of the eduCCate Global United Nations Climate Change (UNCC) Teacher Academy approached the North of Tyne Combined Authority asking its support for a regional launch of their Climate Change Teacher Course, accredited by UN CC:Learn in partnership with Harwood Education.

Their aim is to have a UN accredited Climate Change Teacher, in every school throughout the UK. The online training course takes around 15 to 20 hours to complete and is designed for teachers across all age groups and disciplines.

Originally self funded as a passion project and created by education specialists, Melanie Harwood and Denise Meissner of Harwood Education, the eduCCate Global UN Climate Change Teacher Academy runs in partnership with the One United Nations Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC:Learn/UNITAR).

Dr Meryl Batchelder, a teacher at Corbridge Middle School in Northumberland, is leading the project in the North of Tyne.

She said educating children was the best way to promote understanding of the environmental problems facing the world. “The Industrial Revolution started in the North of Tyne and now the Green Revolution begins in the North of Tyne,” she said.

“The three councils, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, have all declared a climate emergency based on warnings from the United Nations. Education on climate change is essential for everyone in the North East to understand seriousness of the situation.”

Dr Batchelder, who is the UN Sustainable Development Goals Ambassador, said students of teachers who have completed the course would become more climate conscious – and could come up with the green solutions of the future.

“Having a UN accredited Climate Change Teacher in every state school means that all schoolchildren will be given accurate, relevant information on the causes and effects of global heating,” she said.

“Pupils also need to be aware of possible climate change mitigation strategies and adaptation measures. Completing the course will give teachers the confidence, both in their own understanding and in their position as an UN accredited authority, to teach children effectively.”

Corbridge Middle School teacher Meryl Batchelder

Corbridge Middle School teacher Meryl Batchelder

Education specialist Melanie Harwood, of Harwood Education, said there were now the First 80 UK Climate Change Teachers, accredited by UN CC:Learn in partnership with Harwood Education, with a further 1,973 UK teachers working towards the accreditation and up to 50 teachers a day signing up to the programme.

Dr Batchelder is the first to be working in the North of Tyne area.

Mrs Harwood said: Young children are far more vulnerable to climate-related disasters and associated health risks than any other social group.

“We need to give them the tools to understand the effects of a changing climate so that they can take well informed and effective action in the future.

“In these days of a Climate Emergency, now more than ever, teachers all need the knowledge in these five courses that make up the Climate Change Teacher Course to ensure they deliver clear Climate Literacy to all their pupils.”

Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research Angus Mackay said: “We are delighted to be able to support this important educational initiative in the United Kingdom.

“Anyone below the age of 20 is part of the ‘climate generation’ living all or most of their lives having to deal with climate change. The UN Climate Change Teacher Academy is an excellent idea because it will give children an intuitive understanding of the issues and it is solutions based.”

More than two thirds of UK teachers polled this year said there should be more teaching about climate change in the UK.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim by 2030 to tackle questions posed by climate change, environmental pressure, poverty and inequality.  They were adopted by world leaders on September 25, 2015.

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