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AIM Qualification and Assessment Group

Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy

young girl drawing poster on climate change

The DfE’s sustainability and climate change strategy was first announced by The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP at COP26 in June 2021 and has now been published in full. The strategy sets out the government’s vision for the UK to be ‘the world-leading education sector in sustainability and climate change by 2030’.

The strategy looks at:

  1. Excellence in education and skills for a changing world: preparing all young people for a world impacted by climate change through learning and practical experience.
  2. Net zero: reducing direct and indirect emissions from education and care buildings, driving innovation to meet legislative targets and providing opportunities for children and young people to engage practically in the transition to net zero.
  3. Resilience to climate change: adapting our education and care buildings and system to prepare for the effects of climate change.
  4. A better environment for future generations: enhancing biodiversity, improving air quality and increasing access to, and connection with, nature in and around education and care settings.

Driving change

AIM Qualification’s Centre Lead Amanda Ibrahim, likes to keep her centres up to date with the ever-changing educational landscape, she said: “Being engaged with the latest DfE initiatives enables us to predict the impact on schools and other providers as they tailor their curriculum to meet expectations”.

To help put the strategy in context, Amanda has highlighted some of the key messages to help summarise the direction and purpose of the initiative:

Key messages

  • Education is critical to fighting climate change. We have both the responsibility and privilege of educating and preparing young people for a changing world – ensuring they are equipped with the right knowledge, understanding and skills to meet their biggest challenge head on.
  • The UK requires the education sector to play its role in positively responding to climate change and inspiring action on an international stage’
  • We must prepare all young people for a world impacted by climate change through learning and practical experience
  • Free Courses for Jobs, supporting adults that do not have a qualification at Level 3 or higher to access over 400 Level 3 courses for free. The offer currently includes qualifications linked to green sectors such as Agriculture, Building and Construction, Engineering, Environmental Conservation, Horticulture and Forestry, and Science’
  • Support for further and higher education sectors as they deliver programmes which teach the skills of the future, develop research and drive innovation to develop solutions to the climate crisis

School inspections

In addition to the government paper, the British Educational Research Association (BERA) went one step further by calling for teaching about the environment to become a central feature of school inspections, the curriculum and other accountability measures. This has been detailed in their latest manifesto. Other, similar examples of articles calling for Ofsted to include consideration of environmental education in future inspections, and how a school might approach the environmental agenda, have been produced by: tes, SecEd, Green Schools Project and the Headteacher Update

Commitment to continuous quality improvement

“With this information in mind” says Amanda, “it would be valuable to explore ways of evidencing a centre’s commitment to continuous quality improvement via their curriculum offer, with a focus on their activity around environmental education, as well as the leadership’s ability to engage and implement the DfE’s latest strategies”.

AIM have developed a key qualification which, Amanda believes could evidence that commitment.

The AIM Level 1 Award in Environmental Sustainability is worth two credits, and can be assessed either internally by the centre, using their own assessment material, or online with multiple choice questions set and marked by AIM. This short qualification is currently fundable for 14-16 and 16-19 year olds, and ‘local flexibilities’ funded by the ESFA.

It is fully accredited and regulated by Ofqual, and can be offered alongside other Level 1 courses, as it is a stand-alone qualification. Amanda says “ Centres may wish to consider offering this as part of the wider curriculum, or as a ‘bolt-on’ to learner inductions”.

Successful learners receive a certificate.

The four standards that learners will explore are:

  1. know the basic concepts of sustainability
  2. know the importance of natural resources
  3. know about the global environmental impacts of agriculture and industry and how they might be reduced
  4. know the benefits of sustainable communities

More detail and guidance for teachers can be found in the component document.

This qualification is available to all current AIM centres, upon successful qualification application submitted via MIA.

Training providers not recognised as an AIM centre but who wish to deliver this, or any other AIM qualification, can complete the initial enquiry form on the AIM website to begin the process of AIM centre approval.

Further information

If you would like to talk to Amanda, or any other member of the AIM team, about the Level 1 Award in Environmental Sustainability, or any other AIM opportunities, please contact

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