9. Learning Directorate
Scottish education policy is set by Scottish Ministers however statutory responsibility for delivery sits with Scotland's 32 local authorities. Local authorities will work with associated schools and other formal educational settings to enact education policies in line with local contexts and priorities. Education Scotland, as Scotland's education improvement agency, support both the development of policy and its implementation at a local level.
The development and delivery of education policies related to the promotion of biodiversity sit within this structure.
9.1 Actions To Protect Biodiversity And Connect People With Nature
Learning for Sustainability
Connection with nature is a central objective within the cross-curricular theme of Learning for Sustainability (LfS). LfS encourages learners and educators to explore issues of global sustainability across curriculum areas and subjects. Outdoor learning sits as one of the three constituent parts of LfS (the others being sustainable development education and global citizenship education). By ensuring that young people can experience nature first-hand they are able to better understand their impact on and interdependence with the natural world.
In recognition of the importance of Learning for Sustainability, the Scottish Government published a Learning for Sustainability Action Plan in 2019. The plan focuses action around:
people and the public, through a variety of channels and platforms:
- adapting curriculum and assessment practice;
- increasing the skills and confidence of educators;
- obtaining leadership buy in;
- adapting the learning estate; and
- developing a strategic approach to delivery.
The combined impact of actions within the plan will help to ensure that young people are routinely learning about aspects of sustainable development including consideration of biodiversity. It will also support the development of buildings and ground for schools and other educational settings. This will allow more opportunity for outdoor learning and the development of connections with nature. Significantly, our Learning Estate Strategy's guiding principles state that outdoor learning and the use of outdoor learning environments should be maximised.
Schools and nurseries were also invited to apply for capital funding for food growing projects through the Scottish Government's £3.5m Community Climate Asset Fund which launched in October 2020. The fund aims to support the provision of outdoor learning and greater contact with nature. This is part of a wider programme for community climate action.
9.2 Mainstreaming Biodiversity
Biodiversity within Curriculum for Excellence
Biodiversity is mainstreamed in Scottish education as it is included in curriculum content. As a result, all young people in Scotland learn about the importance of biodiversity.
Learners must cover experiences and outcomes related to biodiversity and interdependence at each curriculum level. In the context of the curriculum, learning about biodiversity and interdependence is defined as:
- exploring the rich and changing diversity of living things and developing an understanding of how organisms are interrelated at local and global levels;
- exploring interactions and energy flow between plants and animals (including humans);
- developing an understanding of how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival; and
- investigating the factors affecting plant growth and developing an understanding of the positive and negative impact of the human population on the environment.
9.3 Nature Based Solutions, Climate Change And Biodiversity
The Scottish Government has funded the Eco-Schools Scotland programme for a number of years. The programme provides participating schools with a seven step programme by which they can assess and improve the environmental impact of their establishment. This can include adopting nature based solutions to promote biodiversity and fight climate change.
As part of the seven step programme participating schools must choose 3 of 10 relevant topics. Litter is a mandatory topic, but schools have the option to explore biodiversity and their school grounds for their two remaining topics.
- Food and the Environment
- Global Citizenship
- Health and Wellbeing
- School Grounds
- Waste Minimisation
The 10 Eco-Schools Scotland topics: www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org.
9.4 Public Engagement And Workforce Development
Climate Ready Classrooms
The Scottish Government has committed to funding Keep Scotland Beautiful between 2019–2021 to deliver Climate Ready Classrooms. Climate Ready Classrooms is a one-day accredited carbon literacy training course designed for young people aged 14–17 years as well as their teachers and other educators. It uses interactive activities and examples to start a conversation about climate change. Biodiversity can be part of this conversation.
Upon completing the course, participating young people receive carbon literacy accreditation.
Teaching Learning Outdoors and Supporting Learning Outdoors
The Scottish Government has funded the development of two online learning courses for education practitioners. The Teaching Learning Outdoors course for qualified teachers and the Supporting Learning Outdoors course for other educators.
The courses are free to access for practitioners across Scotland and they support the development of the knowledge and skills needed to take learning from across the curriculum outdoors.
9.5 Research And Monitoring
Learning for Sustainability Literature Review
In 2019 the Scottish Government commissioned an independent literature review into the educational outcomes associated with Learning for Sustainability. The review was carried out by the University of Edinburgh and confirmed the relationship between educational improvement and Learning for Sustainability – and outdoor learning in particular.
The results of the review support the Scottish Government's commitment to progressing the Learning for Sustainability action plan.
Learning for Sustainability Action Plan – Key Performance Indicators
Action 1.3 of the Learning for Sustainability Action Plan commits the Scottish Government to developing key performance indicators to demonstrate the impact of the plan.
As part of this work the Scottish Government will periodically survey young people to ask the extent to which their school experience has helped them to:
- be aware of how their actions affect the environment;
- understand what they can do about the big issues our world faces; and
- live in an environmentally friendly way.
The results from this and other key performance indicators will influence how Learning for Sustainability policy implementation is taken forward.
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