All S5 and S6 pupils have joined with 25 members of staff to take a course that will provide them with a Climate Solutions Accelerator Certificate

A fast track to grasping key climate challenges

Pupils at Lochside Academy in Aberdeen are the first in the UK to take a new express online course about the climate crisis and how they can help tackle it.

CLIMATE change is arguably the biggest issue facing the planet. Critically, the clock is ticking: we need to start dealing with it now. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to be informed about it and to do what we can to mitigate its effects.This is an area in which Scotland is leading the pack. It already has some of the world’s toughest legislation, with a target date for achieving net zero carbon of 2045.

The accelerator is an express online learning programme which teaches the basics in vital areas such as climate science and policy legislation and offers ideas around solutions in just 90 minutes. The network is also offering a more in-depth Climate Solutions Programme. This consists of four easy-to-follow web-based modules and an online workshop. The course is particularly suitable for time-poor business managers in helping them to understand climate issues and their relevance to their organisations and personal lives.

Both courses feature educational materials that are designed to teach and motivate as well as contributions from some of the world’s leading figures in the fight against climate change. Those featured in the programmes include global campaigner Greta Thunberg, former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, ex-Irish President Mary Robinson, former Norwegian Premier Gro Harlem Brundtland and recent UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The accelerator programme will help the students at Lochside Academy develop a strong understanding of climate change and the science and the policies behind tackling it. While preparing them for dealing with climate change and equipping them with the understanding that it will transform their lives, the programme is intended to be positive and optimistic when it comes to offering solutions and opportunities in addressing the problem. The certificate provided to the students at the completion of the programme will be awarded by the RSGS and its partners. This course is seen as a pilot and the insights gained from the pupils will be used to inform its future nationwide development.

Neil Hendry, the Head Teacher at Lochside Academy said that he and his colleagues were immensely proud of being the first secondary school in the UK to take part in the project. “The council’s education team asked if we would work on a climate programme for our senior pupils and things really took off when we started working with Jump Digital, who have been fantastic. Climate change, he added, was an issue that had ramifications for everyone, and none more so than the younger members of society. “By preparing our pupils to face up to the challenge we will be in a much better position to tackle current and future changes.”

The local authority also supports the initiative. Councillor M Taqueer Malik, Aberdeen City Council’s Education Operational Delivery Convener, commented: “We pride ourselves on our imaginative and stimulating curriculum to help give our young people the best starts in life. “It is difficult to think of a study more relevant to young lives than the challenges presented by climate change. Congratulations to Neil Hendry and all at Lochside Academy for their ground-breaking participation in this innovative and vitally important programme.”

“It’s difficult to think of a study more relevant to young lives than the challenges presented by climate change.

Funding for the programme at the school has been provided by Skills Development Scotland (SDS). Rob Orr, the organisation’s Sector Manager – Energy, said that educating students was a key target of the recently published Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan, which SDS has coordinated, “The aim is to inspire young people to understand and engage with the transition to net zero and to embed those skills through climate education. Credit goes to the pupils and staff at Lochside Academy who have got fully behind this innovative Climate Solutions programme.”

Robert Fleeting, the Strategic Lead for Jump Digital, which is offering the primary point of contact for the students at Lochside, said that he and his colleagues were excited about getting feedback on the course from both the pupils and the teaching staff.

The Climate Solutions Network programmes are the brainchild of Mike Robinson, the CEO of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and a veteran climate change and sustainability campaigner. Mr Robinson said: “I am delighted Lochside have taken this opportunity. This issue will define the next decade, and it is vital we understand it better – not just the science, but importantly what we can do about it. “By focusing on solutions and encouraging everyone to help deliver them we can all play a positive part in the changes that face us.”

This article was first published by The Herald on 2nd June 2021, republished here with permission

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