More education on plastic pollution needed

Primary school teachers in the UK are calling for more focus on the topic of plastic pollution in schools, with 87% calling for more education on plastic pollution within the UK primary education national curriculum.

The new study, commissioned by The Breteau Foundation, a non-profit organisation with a vision to provide access to quality education for all children, finds that UK primary school teachers identified plastic pollution as being the most important subject to address when teaching children about the environment, followed by the climate crisis and sustainability.

Surveying primary school teachers nationwide, the study also reveals teachers have spent their own funds to provide pupils with environmental education. Additionally, the research finds that teachers are also dedicating an average of five hours each month to creating educational materials and lesson plans on the topic.

Despite their dedication, half of the respondents stated that their requests for educational resources about plastic pollution have gone unfulfilled. While 66% of teachers acknowledge that their schools teach about plastic pollution, one in five (20%) find it surface-level only, and 60% note a lack of practical solutions for reducing the impact of plastics.

Furthermore, 98% of teachers feel that they have a vital role to play in the plastic crisis, but the demand for education on plastic also stems from students, with 88% of teachers reporting that concerned primary-aged pupils have specifically asked how they can make an impact in reducing plastic pollution.

Leanne Chorekdjian-Jojaghaian, primary teacher at Kingsbury Green Primary School, says: “As a primary school teacher, I feel a great responsibility to teach children about the plastic crisis, as this is an issue that will ultimately affect their future. Our students have expressed concerns about plastic pollution and want to know how they can help, but the lack of detail on the topic within the current curriculum means their questions aren’t being addressed. We want to do our best to provide children with a deeper understanding of plastic and the plastic crisis, but the lack of support and resources available makes this difficult for us to achieve.”

These findings come ahead of the September launch of Plastic Changemakers, a new initiative by The Breteau Foundation. Collaborating with award-winning global independent animation studios ZAG and Mediawan Kids & Family, this initiative aims to inspire the next generation of ambassadors for change in the fight against plastic.

As part of the initiative, the Foundation has set out to address the clear demand from teachers with a comprehensive and free-of-charge Education Pack that contains a flexible set of ready-to-go lesson plans and activities designed to empower children to affect change.

Alongside the Education Pack, The Breteau Foundation, ZAG and Mediawan Kids & Family have co-produced an episode of the Miraculous™: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir simply called “Action,” where the characters of the show seek to demonstrate how small efforts can make a big impact in the fight against plastic.

Sebastian Breteau, Founder of The Breteau Foundation comments: “Our international experience in education has shown that children want to see more responsible plastic use in their homes and communities. We want to inspire over one million primary school children to become plastic changemakers, and by equipping them with the right knowledge, we believe we can kick start a global movement on responsible plastic use.”

Emma Becker, Executive Director at The Breteau Foundation adds: “As a former teacher, I know first-hand the pressures teachers face when it comes to finding and preparing resources for lessons. The Plastic Changemakers Education Pack has been created by experts to allow teachers to focus their time wholly on delivering the lessons.”

The Plastic Changemakers Education Pack and “Action” episode will be available on The Breteau Foundation website in September when all educators will be able to download the pack for free and stream the episode. Visit here for more information or to register to receive updates. 

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