• University of Reading

Teaching Climate and Sustainability in Primary Schools: An Outdoor Learning Approach

Build your confidence teaching climate and sustainability outdoors and develop ideas to implement in your school.

1,470 enrolled on this course

Backs of four children looking up to a blue sky with few clouds in it

Teaching Climate and Sustainability in Primary Schools: An Outdoor Learning Approach

1,470 enrolled on this course

  • 2 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Accreditation available

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Discover the importance of climate education and outdoor learning

Children around the world are demanding comprehensive and up-to-date education on climate and sustainability. Most teachers agree climate change education should be compulsory in schools, yet many feel ill-equipped to teach it.

On this two-week course, you’ll discuss ways to embed climate awareness and sustainable practices into the life of the school. You’ll explore the importance of being outside for inspiring children and learn how to lead high-quality learning experiences outdoors.

Identify the skills to teach climate and sustainability outside

You’ll engage with a case study from a school that is developing an approach to climate and sustainability education through outdoor learning. You’ll hear from teachers about their experience of leading learning sessions outside, watch climate education in action, and reflect on your own working practices.

Collaborate and develop an action plan for your own teaching practices

You’ll have the opportunity to build a plan for your own teaching or to help make a wider impact at the whole school level.

You’ll have the space to share your experiences and ideas about teaching climate and sustainability and collaborate with others on the course to discuss how to facilitate this learning outside in an effective way.

Learn from the experts at the University of Reading

This course has been developed by The University of Reading, one of the world’s leading centres for the study of climate. On this course, you’ll hear from experts in outdoor learning and meteorology and explore resources for raising awareness and action through climate education outdoors.

This course will inspire you to start implementing climate and sustainability learning outdoors within your own school, helping you and your pupils pioneer a better tomorrow.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds Often I think that young children are a lot more aware than a lot of adults about climate change and about the things that are happening in the world around us. And I think teaching children from a young age allows them to take a real ownership of knowledge of climate change for their whole lives, and then they can go on and educate the people around them as well. We still have our whole life to make a change. We want impact action not words.

Skip to 0 minutes and 33 seconds The Institute of Education at Reading we are working on how we can help teachers schools but also teacher training to support them in improving understanding about climate, developing ideas to do with sustainability.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds Outdoor learning and linked to sustainability and climate change is a long way. It’s something that you need to start bit by bit. Sometimes you don’t need a reason, you can just take the learning outside. You can just have the lesson outside or in a different environment. You don’t need to have planned a specific lesson to use the outdoor environment. I like doing outside, looking at bugs. I like looking at nature because I get to explore. You able to touch the trees and in books you’re not able. You’re just looking at pictures.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds Good early years practice and the research suggests that children should have a large part of their day that is child directed and they should be able to be outdoors as well as indoors. Why do we think that that would suddenly stop when a child reaches 5 years old and they move into key stage one? It makes no sense at all. They want to be outdoors.

What topics will you cover?

  • The crucial importance of being outside for learning how to love and care for the Earth.
  • Explore a case study from a school which is approaching climate and sustainability education outdoors through their values, curriculum and general school life.
  • The knowledge and skills required for outdoor learning including the potential challenges and solutions.
  • Recommendations for how to pursue your own understanding of climate and sustainability and develop an action plan for incorporating the topics into your teaching.
  • Opportunity to work with other teachers to develop approaches relevant to your own context and be empowered to transform your own working practices to deliver climate and sustainability education.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Justify why it is important to teach climate and sustainability using an outdoor learning approach.
  • Build a personal resource containing links to further reading and materials that will expand your own knowledge of climate and sustainability as a foundation for your teaching.
  • Develop your understanding of the benefits of outdoor learning to empower children to care for the environment.
  • Collaborate to develop ideas for teaching climate and sustainability outside for your own working practice.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for primary school teachers who want to incorporate climate and sustainability into their teaching. It will also be particularly helpful for those who lead on climate and sustainability education and/or outdoor learning in a school or are looking for opportunities to build their skills and knowledge for such a role in the future.

Course image©Gi Dais, Taking the first steps outside.

Who will you learn with?

I am Professor of Outdoor Learning and Play at the University of Reading. I am also Director of the Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Education.

I am a lecturer in the Meteorology Department at Reading University.
Prior to joining the University I worked for the Met Office in several different roles.

I am Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Reading. I also lead the University's Primary School Direct teacher training programme.

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$244.99 for one whole year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$89/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 4 Jun 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 3 June 2024 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 3 June 2024 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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