Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has welcomed the announcement from the national Labour Party that climate change should be a core part of the school curriculum.

Under plans set out by Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, the next Labour government will ensure all young people are educated about the ecological and social impact of climate change.

A review of the curriculum will also make certain that it focuses on the knowledge and skills that young people need in a world that will be increasingly shaped by climate change, particularly in renewable energy and green technology jobs.

Under the Conservatives the curriculum has narrowed, with Michael Gove scrapping the last Labour government’s plans to start teaching children about the environment and climate change when they are in primary school. Currently, teaching climate change is restricted to Chemistry and Geography in Key Stages 3 and 4.

At a recent full council meeting, Tower Hamlets Council declared a ‘climate emergency’ in Tower Hamlets and committed to work towards being a ‘carbon neutral borough’ by 2025. 40% of residents in Tower Hamlets live in areas that breach EU and government guidance on safe levels of air pollution and it’s the fifth worst borough in London for air pollution. Children’s lung capacity in Tower Hamlets can be up to 10% below normal.

The council’s Breathe Clean campaign works with residents to let them know what they can do to help, with initiatives like the anti-idling campaign and 50 planned ‘school streets’ and ‘play streets’, which means areas around some schools have restrictions to traffic so pupils are not exposed to harmful emissions.

The council is also investing in improving neighbourhoods through a Liveable Streets fund to make it easier to get about by foot, on a bike and on public transport, and installing 300 electric vehicle charging points across the borough. An air quality fund is also giving small pots of money to innovative groups in the community who want to do their bit.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “I welcome Angela Rayner’s announcement that the next Labour government will ensure that climate change is a core part of the school curriculum. We need to equip our children to understand and think about the environment, the air we breathe and the duty we have to each other to protect the world we live in.

“At a recent meeting of Tower Hamlets Council we declared a ‘climate emergency’ and committed to work towards being a carbon neutral borough by 2025. Local schoolchildren who came to our meeting spoke passionately about the need to address climate change, and we need to ensure that all children share their passion and understanding through the school curriculum.”

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