Climate Action Unit


Developing teacher-led climate action plans: a spotlight on Luton

1 December 2023

The Climate Action Unit partnered with Luton Borough Council to deliver the Climate Action Teachers Champions (CATCh) programme. CATCh enables schools in Luton to create climate action plans for the first time.

Participants of the CATCh pilot programme

The challenge

The reach of schools - both in terms of their students and the wider community - makes them an ideal place to ignite climate action. However, teachers often feel they lack the time, tools and support to implement changes that could inspire local climate action. As schools adapt to teaching a 'greener' curriculum, they are simultaneously trying to find ways to engage students in sustainability practices without provoking climate anxiety. 

Facing this people-centred challenge head on, Luton Borough council sought the CAU's expertise to design and facilitate a programme to overcome the psychological barriers to action in schools.

Developing the CATCh programme

Working with the borough's climate change team, CAU Director Kris De Meyer co-developed a pilot programme to a dedicated team of specialists to engage directly with teachers in the area. These climate action specialists provided school teachers with workshops on the psychology of climate action and how to identify 'pillars' of change (e.g transport). 

The programme also offered several other layers of support to teachers keen to take action, including:

  • Provision of local climate action case studies - some highlighting how other organisations had overcome barriers to taking action, while others signposted pathways for change
  • A series of one-to-one mentoring sessions for teachers to identify opportunities and barriers to change in their specific school, and to create a bespoke action plan
  • Additional group workshops faciliated by the CAU provided as a space for teachers to support one another through the process 
  • A £1000 bursary per school to fund activities identified in their climate action plans

What's next?

Having completed a successful pilot in the summer term of 2023, six schools are now in the process of putting their plans into action this academic year.

The CAU has developed skills within the Luton Borough Council team to deliver future versions of the programme themselves. Six further schools are already signed up to take place in the next programme, and funding currently exists to support cohorts up until March 2025.

Workshops will be delivered to help network schools that have already taken part in the CATCh programme with schools newly joining the initiative.

Find out more

For further information see the LGA's recent article on the scheme or reach out to the Climate Action Unit via email at climateactionunit@ucl.ac.uk