The various issues challenging the coalition Government include the green agenda: Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg recently told the Guardian that he spent more time arguing with his Conservative partners over that topic than anything else.
One little-aired disagreement has been between energy secretary Ed Davey (Lib Dem) and education secretary Michael Gove (Tory). Davey wrote a private letter to Gove expressing his unhappiness at his plans to downgrade climate change in the new national curriculum for schools.
One consequence is that recycling would get less classroom time. Under the outgoing curriculum, all seven to 11-year-olds are taught about ‘managing the environment sustainably’. But it is only in the draft curriculum for chemistry that 11 to 14-year-olds would be taught about ‘the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the impact on climate’ with a section on ‘the efficacy of recycling’.
This is a shame, although it has to be acknowledged that there are many valid, competing, claims on how a child’s time in the classroom should be occupied.
Education is not just the responsibility of schools. Waste management companies play their part with education facilities at major plants to support such learning.
The fragmented nature of waste management in the UK, with councils implementing different collection methods, already handicaps a general awareness of best recycling practice. Cutting down on what is, in effect, the theory of recycling from our schools would be a backward step. Consultation on the proposed new curriculum has just closed: we await Gove’s response.