Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Department of Education and Skills

School Curriculum

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
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83. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the steps that have been taken by her Department to include climate action studies within the primary and post-primary curriculum; the future steps that might be taken; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23826/22]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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Several steps have been taken to include climate action and indeed wider sustainable development across the curriculum at each level. Given the importance of climate change as an issue facing Ireland and global society, the Department has prioritised the integration of environmental and climate focused content in the curriculum.

My Department’s Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development 2014 to 2020, is a key enabler for achievement of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 13 Climate Action. Development of a further strategy for ESD to 2030 is underway.

The Department requested the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to include a consideration of sustainable development in developing curricula.

- The process of updating the Aistear Framework for Early Years will encompass a focus on Education for Sustainable Development, including climate education.

- The Draft Primary Curriculum Framework contains proposals relevant to climate action including the competency 'Being an active citizen' to develop children’s capacity and motivation for active and meaningful participation in society and foster their ability to contribute to the creation of a more sustainable and just world. Redevelopment of curriculum areas under the new Framework, including Social and Environmental Education, Well-being, Mathematics, Science and Technology, all can make a positive contribution to climate action.

- The 2021 specification on Civic, Social, Political Education includes: Learning Outcome 2.4: discuss sustainability strategies that individuals, communities, businesses, agriculture and governments can employ to address climate change; and updated student actions, to communicate how to address the challenge of climate change. Across subject specifications Science, Business Studies, Home Economics, Geography, and the Technologies, issues of climate change and sustainability have been embedded across the learning outcomes.

- At Senior Cycle, new specifications in Physics, Chemistry and Biology which are cognisant of the importance of climate action, will be made available for consultation in due course.

Furthermore as the Deputy may be aware, on 29 March, I announced an ambitious programme of work for a reimagined Senior Cycle of education where the student is at the centre of their Senior Cycle experience.

The three tenets of Senior Cycle reform are to:

- Empower students to meet the challenges of the 21st century

- Enrich the student experience and build on what’s strong in our current system

- Embed well-being and reduce student stress levels

As part of these reforms, a new subject of Climate Action and Sustainable Development will be introduced for Leaving Certificate students, starting in September 2024 in network schools.

I have requested the NCCA to develop this new subject area as a matter of priority.

The NCCA has recently completed an international audit of Education for Sustainable Development in the curriculum, which could act as a solid foundation from which to develop a brief for the subject.

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