Children teaching grown-ups a lesson or two about green issues

September 20, 2011

Children are resorting to “green pester power”, pushing their parents to act more sustainably – and their efforts are paying off, according to a new report published today (20 September).

Half of parents say they struggle to answer their children’s questions about green issues – more than half for instance, incorrectly put the blame for climate change on carbon monoxide.

But six in ten say their children are persuading them to be greener, with recycling, conserving water and leaving the car at home among the things their offspring are asking them to do most often…and when they’re pressured, 95 per cent of them change their behaviour as a result.

The study is published by The Co-operative, to mark the official launch of its Green Schools Revolution (GSR) educational programme, which forms part of its groundbreaking Ethical Plan. The programme will meet the needs of information-hungry children, who rate green issues a close third in terms of learning priorities just behind Maths and English.

More than four in five parents believe their children learn more about the environment at school than they did – two in five say they were taught nothing about the issues at all.

The Co-operative Group says it has been “overwhelmed” by the pre-registration demand for the programme’s range of teaching materials from more than 2,500 primary and secondary schools across the UK, caring for over one million children.

Paul Monaghan, Head of Sustainability at the Co-operative Group said: “We are lucky that our youngsters have such a tremendous appetite to learn more about green issues and make a difference. Through our Green Schools Revolution programme, we hope to do our bit to help the thousands of switched on teachers who want to ensure the next generation are better equipped for the challenge of building a more sustainable world. However, parents aren’t off the hook – clearly they need extra homework and the programme will put children in a good position to teach them.”

Farmer and television presenter, Jimmy Doherty is launching the programme with the help of schoolchildren at a London primary school. He said: “As a parent, a farmer, and an enthusiastic advocate of sustainable living, I think it is vitally important to educate our children about green issues from an early age. I’ve been passionate about the environment since I was a teenager, but back then there was little information around to inspire others to change, so I’m delighted to see that The Co-operative is launching its Green Schools Revolution programme, which offers so much to encourage children to consider their environmental impact as second nature.”

From today, all GSR schools across the country will have access to a wide range of free cross-curricular classroom resources and activities through www.greenschools.coop, giving young people and teachers the tools to inspire change in their schools, homes and local communities.

The Co-operative is offering schools free fun and educational visits to its own wind farm to see renewable energy in action and to seven Co-operative Farms to see first hand how food grows and how to cook it. Schools will be able to take advantage of free high visibility jackets to help set up “walking buses” for pupils,  helping  both schools and parents to take practical action to cut their carbon emissions.

 

Additional Information:

  • Opinion Matters interviewed 1027 children aged between 7 and 14 and 1002 parents of children aged 7 to 14 in August 2011.
  • The Co-operative’s Ethical Plan has 47 distinct targets, among them a cultural shift in youth perception and opportunities for young people through a £30 million programme that will support the Green Schools programme, an Apprenticeship Academy and the creation of 200 Co-operative Schools by 2013.
  • The Co-operative Group is one of the UK’s leading businesses and the world’s largest consumer owned co-operative. The Group is the fifth biggest food retailer and the leading convenience store operator as well as operating The Co-operative Bank, Co-operative Insurance and Britannia.  Other interests include the third largest retail pharmacy chain, the number one funeral services business, Britain’s biggest farmer and a leading travel agency. The Co-operative Group has around 6.5 million members. As well as delivering on its financial and operational goals, the Group aims to deliver on its social goals, playing an active part supporting local communities and the wider world.