Teachers need more support for environmental education

Posted on
05 May 2008
The Government must increase its support for environmental education, after a new report released today finds many teachers get no formal training in the discipline, says WWF-New Zealand.

The study of schools and teacher training sector, commissioned by WWF–New Zealand, reveals worrying gaps in New Zealand’s education system.

It found:
  • pre-service teacher training in environmental education is piecemeal, and many trainee teachers do not study environmental education at all;
  • environmental education remains a non-mandatory part of the curriculum, meaning it will only be taught if individual teachers and schools choose to do so;
  • only some school staff are taking up opportunities for environmental education professional development;
  • the Education Review Office under-reports environmental education activity in schools.
WWF-New Zealand commissioned the report to determine the current level of environmental education/education for sustainability that New Zealand children receive in schools. The conservation organisation is campaigning for the Government to ensure all New Zealand school students receive quality environmental education.

Wendy Barry, WWF-New Zealand's Education Programme Leader commented on the report’s findings: “Staff at many schools are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about environmental education. But, as the new report shows, others are not getting the help they need to give it the priority it deserves.

“While the government does fund some very successful initiatives, additional resources are required. The Government must also must give clear signals to the educational sector through the Curriculum, teacher training institutions, and the Education Review Office that environmental education is a real priority.”

Environmental education in schools is essential to equip New Zealand’s children with the skills to face the serious environmental issues that will affect them in their lifetimes, she said. “To do this, all new teachers need to start their careers as competent in sustainability and Environmental Education as they are in Maths and English, and environmental values and sustainable practices must be properly integrated into all aspects of school life.”

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Notes to editors
The WWF-New Zealand report is entitled The State of Environmental Education in New Zealand: a baseline assessment of provision in the formal sector in 2006. It was commissioned by WWF-New Zealand and conducted by Waikato University. WWF-New Zealand has presented the findings of the report to the Government this week. You can download an electronic copy free of charge at http://www.wwf.org.nz

For further information, including print copies of the full report please contact:
WWF-New Zealand
+64 (0)4 499 2930 or info@wwf.org.nz

Media contacts:
Jenny Riches, WWF-New Zealand Communications Manager, 04 471 4288 or 027 4477158.

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