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Climate Ambassador Scheme

Sustainability experts needed for national education scheme

Published on: 20 May 2024

Pioneering programme supporting schools and colleges to develop and implement climate action plans is being expanded.

Today (20 May) at the Education World Forum, the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, is calling for 1,000 expert volunteers to join the government’s national climate education programme.

The Climate Ambassador Scheme is a £2 million Department for Education programme, in partnership with the University of Reading and EAUC (the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education), with support from STEM Learning. It will provide nurseries, schools, colleges and universities across England with free access to local experts who can help turn their climate and sustainability ambitions into action.

Volunteer experts from across England are needed to support the roll-out of the scheme, which, in the first two years, aims to support 2,500 education settings on their sustainability journey.

The Climate Ambassadors Scheme was originally launched in April 2022, by the University of Reading and STEM Learning, with support from UKRI. In December 2023, the Department for Education partnered with the University and EAUC to expand the Scheme to all 30,000 education settings across England. A key aim of the extended programme, as part of the Department for Education’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy, is for all education settings to have a climate action plan in place by 2025. 

To support the expansion, regional hubs in each of England’s education regions have been set up so that experts can be matched with education settings in their area.

North East Hub

The North East Hub will be hosted by Newcastle University and led by Dr Stephen Blenkinsop and Professor Hayley Fowler.

Dr Blenkinsop said: “The north-east Climate Ambassadors Hub hosted by Newcastle University is excited to be able to draw on the expertise and passion people across our region have for addressing the challenges of climate change. Volunteer ambassadors as well as nurseries, schools and colleges interested in getting support can find out more about all the help the scheme provides from the regional hub at”

Professor Fowler added: “It is an exciting time for schools and other educational settings in the North East. For the first time, there is the opportunity to draw on regional expertise in climate change science led by Newcastle University, and our volunteer climate ambassadors, to enable their school to be more resilient to weather extremes, to reduce their emissions towards Net Zero, and to educate pupils, teachers and parents in this important topic.”

In her speech at the Education World Forum, the Secretary of State for Education said: “Today, I am announcing the extension of the Climate Ambassadors scheme, which provides education settings with access to a network of regional climate ambassadors. The scheme provides local expert support and peer to peer learning opportunities, with Ambassadors helping nurseries, schools and colleges turn their climate ambition into meaningful climate action.”

Experts can make a critical difference to the ability of nurseries, schools and colleges to reduce their carbon emissions, improve biodiversity and young people’s connection with nature, while also helping them adapt to climate risks and provide a world-leading education in sustainability and climate change critical for their future lives. 

Laura Tobin, ITV weather presenter and Climate Ambassador champion said: “If you have a great knowledge of climate change, biodiversity or sustainability, Climate Ambassadors is perfect for you. Young children have a lot of questions -- they want to learn so much more about the world around us. If you want to go into schools and colleges to give talks, if you want to help education settings learn more about places they can find great resources, or you want to help the places and people in our education system become greener and more sustainable, become a Climate Ambassador.”  

Sign up now

Anyone interested in becoming a Climate Ambassador can sign up to the scheme now to be provided with free training and support, and be matched to a local nursery, school or college that needs help building a climate action plan. All Climate Ambassadors will be supported by a national network of regional hubs, based at organisations with a strong commitment to sustainability and climate action. 

Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, co-lead of the scheme at the University of Reading, said: “Becoming a Climate Ambassador is all about action. Just a small commitment of your time can make a real difference to a local nursery, school or college, giving staff and young people the confidence and skills to make meaningful change happen now.”

Partnering for the planet

Organisations large and small, across England, who would like to make the Climate Ambassador scheme part of their corporate volunteering programmes can sign up as partners of the programme. By becoming a partner, organisations will have access to a structured, relevant and meaningful volunteer option for their employees, while also supporting the organisation’s community engagement and social value goals.

 Charlotte Bonner, CEO of EAUC and co-lead of the Climate Ambassador scheme, said: 

“Many organisations are taking action on sustainability and climate change and want to make sure their current and future employees have the green skills they need. Becoming a Climate Ambassadors partner puts organisations at the forefront of moving the education system from ambition to action.”

The Climate Ambassador scheme links with other parts of the Department for Education’s Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy and it’s funded initiatives: including the National Education Nature Park which sees young people leading the way in forming a vast network of green spaces across England to improve their schools, colleges and nurseries for people and wildlife; and the Sustainability Support for Education platform which will provide access to support for education settings to get started or prioritise next steps on their sustainability journey. Climate Ambassadors work in partnership with the team of Let’s Go Zero Climate Action Advisors, who also provide free tailored support to schools looking to become zero carbon.  

This Thursday 23 May, on Outdoor Classroom Day, the National Education Nature Park is encouraging all teachers and pupils to be ‘habitat heroes’ and discover homes for wildlife in their school, college or nursery grounds. This is a great way for all young people to connect to the natural world and for education settings to begin their climate action journey.

Press release adapted with thanks from the University of Reading.


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