Primary School Teachers Spending Time and Their Own Money to Educate Students on the Environment

By Guest author

25th Jun 2023 | Local News

Primary school teachers in the UK are shouldering a significant financial burden to educate their students about the environment, according to a new study. The new research, commissioned by The Breteau Foundation, a non-profit organisation with a vision to provide access to quality education for all children, found that UK primary school teachers have collectively spent a staggering £13 million* of their own funds in order to provide pupils with environmental education. 

Surveying over 500 primary school teachers nationwide, the study reveals that teachers also dedicate an average of five hours each month to creating educational materials and lesson plans on environmental topics.

Primary school teachers that took part in the study, identified plastic pollution as being the most important subject to address when teaching children about the environment, followed by the climate crisis and sustainability. The demand for environmental education also stems from students, with 88% of teachers reporting that concerned pupils have specifically asked how they can make an impact in reducing plastic pollution. 

Despite their dedication, half of the respondents stated that their requests for educational resources about plastic pollution go unfulfilled. While 66% of teachers acknowledge that their schools teach about plastic pollution, one in five (20%) find it surface-level only, and 60% note a lack of practical solutions for reducing the impact of plastics. 

With 98% of teachers feeling they have a vital role to play in the plastic crisis, it may come as no surprise that 87% of teachers advocate for more education on plastic pollution within the UK primary education national curriculum. Additionally, 96% believe that providing education packs would be valuable, and 86% argue that primary school children require more creative and engaging resources to foster active participation in discussions about plastic pollution.

These findings come ahead of the September launch of Plastic Changemakers, a new initiative by The Breteau Foundation. Collaborating with award-winning global independent animation studios ZAG and Mediawan Kids & Family, this initiative aims to inspire the next generation of ambassadors for change in the fight against plastic.

As part of the initiative, the Foundation has set out to address the clear demand from teachers with a comprehensive and free-of-charge Education Pack that contains a flexible set of ready-to-go lesson plans and activities designed to empower children to affect change. 

Created by educational and environmental experts and aligned to curricula, the Plastic Changemakers Education Pack contains five modules for 7–11-year-olds and seeks to equip children with a comprehensive knowledge about plastics and how individuals and communities can use it more responsibly. 

 Alongside the Education Pack, The Breteau Foundation, ZAG and Mediawan Kids & Family have co-produced an episode of the Miraculous™: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir simply called "Action," where the characters of the show seek to demonstrate how small efforts can make a big impact in the fight against plastic. 

Sebastian Breteau, Founder of The Breteau Foundation comments: "Our international experience in education has shown that children want to see more responsible plastic use in their homes and communities. We want to inspire over one million primary school children to become plastic changemakers, and by equipping them with the right knowledge, we believe we can kick start a global movement on responsible plastic use." 

Emma Becker, Executive Director at The Breteau Foundation adds: "As a former teacher, I know first-hand the pressures teachers face when it comes to finding and preparing resources for lessons. The Plastic Changemakers Education Pack has been created by experts to allow teachers to focus their time wholly on delivering the lessons."


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