Councillors praise Brighton’s first UN accredited ‘climate change’ teacher

A junior school teacher has been praised for becoming the first accredited “climate change” teacher in Brighton and Hove.

Emily Defries, at Patcham Junior School, is to receive a formal letter of congratulations from Brighton and Hove City Council after taking the e-learning course.

The official “thank you” was requested by Green councillors Elaine Hills and Sarah Nield at a meeting of the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee today (Monday 16 September).

They also asked for the council’s executive director for families, children and learning Pinaki Ghoshal to write praising the junior school for becoming the first in the city to have a lead teacher for climate change education.

Councillor Hills said: “You couldn’t meet a more passionate advocate.

“She has since led a climate change assembly in the school, after which children wrote postcards to our mayor requesting a climate change teacher in every school.”

The mayor, Councillor Alex Phillips, is due to visit the school as part of We Love Our Planet Week.

Councillors Hills and Nield also asked Mr Ghoshal to recommend that Brighton and Sussex universities and the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College (the Met) include the course as part of their teacher training courses.

At Hove Town Hall today Councillor Hills told the committee that she had signed up to the course as part of her work as a university lecturer.

She said: “Many children and young people are worried about their future.

“They are concerned about rising temperatures, pollution and the loss of biodiversity and the likelihood that our planet is becoming a much more hostile place.

“The willingness of so many children to take part in climate strikes shows this.”

Conservative councillor Dee Simson welcomed the inclusion of climate change in children’s education but had reservatios about singling out one teacher.

She said: “There are hundreds of teachers doing exceptional work across the city, particularly in our special schools.”

Labour councillor John Allcock, the new chair of the committee, said that he wanted the executive director to write to Ms Defries for being the first to take the qualification in the city.

Conservative councillor Alistair McNair asked if the course offered all sides of the argument, distancing himself from climate change denial but encouraging scepticism of media reports while looking for solutions.

Councillor Hills said that the basis of the course was peer reviewed but any lesson plans would be up to teachers.

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