Teaching the plastic problem: Common Seas Education wins Royal Meteorological Society quality mark

The Royal Meteorological Society has awarded its climate education resource “quality mark” to Common Seas Education, the first-time plastic education resources have received the mark.

Resources recognised by the mark include lesson packages for science, geography and design and technology.

The peer-reviewed Quality Control framework was developed as part of the National Climate Education Action Plan that focuses on delivering high-quality climate education across the UK.

It recognises quality climate education resources that are grounded in accurate and up-to-date climate information. Other recipients include Engineering UK and the National History Museum.

The rapid global growth of the plastic industry, largely fuelled by oil and gas, undermines efforts to reduce carbon emissions and prevent a climate catastrophe.

Plastic already contributes 3.4 percent of global carbon emissions (1) – more than the aviation industry. Estimates indicate that GHG emissions from plastics could reach 19 percent of the remaining carbon budget by 2050 (2).

Common Seas Education provides fully resourced lesson plans and activities to primary and secondary schools, equipping them with the tools to teach children about sustainability practices, through quality lesson packages and project-based learning, empowering young people to act against the plastic crisis.

Common Seas worked with teachers, children, and partners to develop the educational materials, ensuring the resources are as scientifically robust as possible.

Partners include the national qualification body AQA, the Association for Science Education (ASE), the Royal Geographical Society, and universities including the University of Oxford, University of Exeter, and University of Plymouth.

In partnership with Kids Against Plastic, Common Seas runs the Plastic Clever Schools award. This supports children to lead on reducing plastic waste in their school, whilst building essential skills for active citizenship beyond the classroom.

The resources given to schools to become ‘plastic clever’, including lesson plans, activity packs and workbooks were also accredited by the Royal Meteorological Society.

The Action Plan has been referenced in the Department for Education's Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy which outlined its vision for all education settings to have a Climate Action Plan in place by 2025.

Sarah Duffy, Head of Education at Common Seas said: “Common Seas education programme was developed by teachers, leading academics, researchers, and educational bodies. Plastic is a powerful topic when teaching about sustainability- it covers a multitude of complex topics in a very tangible way- including the climate crisis.

“Plastic is a huge contributor to climate change and we are grateful to have the Royal Meteorological Society approve our learning materials as climate education resources, and support the Plastic Clever Schools programme as we work to teach every child about the impact of plastic pollution and empower change.”

Professor Sylvia Knight, Head of Education at the Royal Metrological Society said: “Climate education needs to help students appreciate the impact of climate change on themselves and their careers while supporting them to act as global and local citizens. Crucially, it needs to give students hope about the solutions for change, rather than causing climate anxiety.

“We are pleased that Common Seas has worked with us and that their resources on plastic pollution and climate change have been positively assessed against the framework. This has helped us develop a process for significantly ramping up the quality control of similar climate-focused programmes to help educate students with relevant, engaging, and accurate tools.”

(1) OECD (2022) Global Plastics Outlook: Economic Drivers, Environmental Impacts and Policy Options
(2) UNEP (2021) From pollution to solution

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