Groundbreaking climate change qualification proves popular with students

As post-primary students across Northern Ireland make subject choices for the coming academic year, some are opting to study a brand-new qualification: Reducing Carbon Footprints Through Environmental Action (via Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful)

Image via Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful

St Colm’s High School, Dunmurry was one of the first schools to offer the exciting new qualification. Angela Ardis, Head of Geography, says, “The course itself is varied and interesting. It builds on knowledge gained through the junior school geography syllabus and applies it to the outside world. Our pupils gain knowledge of what climate change is; its affects and what they can do to help their local community become greener and more sustainable. It also allows our students to gain valuable life skills such as teamwork; independent study and research, via resources, such as the internet.”

Pupil Stephen is one of 36 students at St Colm’s who have chosen to study the course. He comments “I really enjoyed Geography in years 8, 9 and 10. This course is interesting as it shows us some of the issues affecting our planet. It also teaches us that little actions now can have impacts on our carbon footprint. Our teachers also make it very interesting.”

The qualification was developed in collaboration with environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, and is awarded by the Open College Network (OCN). It’s the first qualification of its kind in Northern Ireland.

There are two available levels of study- Award and Certificate. The certificate qualification is equivalent to a grade B at GCSE, and includes options to study modules on Biodiversity Recovery, Climate Campaigning, Fast Fashion and Tackling Single Use Plastics. Both levels of study explore the impact of carbon emissions on climate change, and how individuals, communities and organisations may contribute to reducing these.

Charlene McKeown, Environmental Education manager at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful believes this breadth of content is key: “From understanding our carbon footprints, to fast fashion, to climate campaigning;  this qualification is about equipping our young people with the knowledge, skills and resilience that that they need to tackle the climate crisis.”

Teachers interested in delivering the course first complete accredited Carbon Literacy training, delivered by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, and funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

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