General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and Advanced Subsidiary (AS)-level secondary school students in Northern Ireland will be able to gain a new qualification in climate change and environmental action from the next school term.

The new Open College Network (OCN) Northern Ireland (NI) Level 2 Certificate in Reducing Carbon Footprints Through Environmental Action has been added to the Department of Education’s list of courses approved for teaching and will be available from September.

Through it, students will have the opportunity to follow a selection of project-based modules in the following areas: Understanding the role of Carbon in Climate Change; Biodiversity Recovery; Tackling Single-Use Plastics; Fast Fashion; and Climate Campaigning.

The qualification is fully assessed through coursework.

Teacher perspective

To date, almost 30 teachers in Northern Ireland have completed a free Carbon Literacy training course, funded by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), to enable them to support and deliver carbon literacy programmes for students withtin their schools.

Nicole Sloan (pictured top), who teaches at Foyle College, is one teacher who is excited about the new course and the opportunities it will open up for students.

“I think this new opportunity to gain a formal qualification in climate change and carbon literacy is hugely significant,” she said.

“Our students found the initial carbon literacy training that they have now completed, enlightening and very empowering.

“They took their time to really absorb all of the information they were given, discussed it at home and have started to apply changes in their own lives.

“These changes are to lower their carbon footprint which will make a difference locally and globally, for people now and for generations to come.

“Knowledge is power and no matter which path a young person intends to follow career-wise, this knowledge is important now.”