Education chiefs approve first climate and environmental action qualification for NI schools

Students across Northern Ireland will be able to get a qualification in climate change and environmental action from September. The new OCN NI Level 2 certificate in Reducing Carbon Footprints Through Environmental Action will be open to GSCE and AS-Level pupils.

Now on the list of approved Department of Education courses, modules will focus on issues including fast fashion, single use plastics, biodiversity recovery and the climate crisis.

Foyle College’s Nicole Sloan is one of 30 teachers across NI to do a free DAERA carbon literacy course to help them educate the next generation about the impacts of global warming. She says she’s “excited about the new OCN” because of the doors it will open for students.

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“I think this new opportunity to gain a formal qualification in climate change and carbon literacy is hugely significant,” she added. “Our school has been an active member of Eco-Schools for a number of years and we’ve seen the benefits that has brought to so many of our students.



Foyle College teacher Nicole Sloan with Minister Poots, Keep NI Beautiful’s Scott Howes and pupils

“It has broadened their outlook and enabled them to link and cross-reference other parts of the curriculum as part of a global and green theme, which I think is so important for their futures. Knowledge is power and no matter which path a young person intends to follow career-wise, this knowledge is important now. ”

The qualification, which will be fully accessed through coursework, has also been welcomed by the Eco-Schools NI program for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Its manager Charlene McKeown said: “We envisage schools taking this new qualification on board as a Key Stage 4 option to complement courses like Geography or Travel and Tourism. The development of this new qualification has been a hugely positive collaboration between a number of organizations with an exciting outcome for young people. ”

OCN NI chief executive, Martin Flynn, thinks it will be a “popular option” with young people. He said: “The younger generation has already demonstrated their growing passion to not only understand the climate change debate but are committed to taking action which will help halt and reverse its effects in the future.

“We believe the new qualifications, which will be available to schools and their students from September 2022, will prove to be an extremely popular choice with young people.”

Terry Waugh, CEO of Action Renewables added: “Our funding towards the development of a branded Climate Advocacy resource pack to support the teaching of this new qualification is very exciting and strengthens our charitable objectives in the education of young people.”

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