Malini & Martin at a GLOBE debate on net zero, Houses of Parliament, LCAW 2019

The idea for a Schools Climate Summit came out of reflections after hosting London Climate Action Week 2020. Following a number of impressive events showcasing environmental efforts in schools and student-led climate initiatives, we wondered how we could enhance their impact. In particular, by using a ‘whole school’ approach, engaging school leaders, governors, business managers, teachers, students, staff and the local community. Our objective was to overcome fragmentation, address structural issues and build a cohesive sectoral response to the climate emergency, which could help drive delivery – at scale – in a global city of almost nine million people, with impacts far and wide. 

Hear Malini explain why a Schools Climate Summit was needed.

The Summit will bring together London’s diverse education sector, local and national policy makers, youth and communities. It will provide a platform for engagement, monitoring and recognition of achievement for schools of different types: state schools, independent schools, special schools, faith schoolsalternative provision and international schools. At the heart of London Climate Action Week are the UN Sustainable Development Goals with their motto “Leave No One Behind”. We wish to ensure all of London’s diverse schools are represented.

With an initial focus on secondary and primaries, the Summit will build on LCAW work with London’s world-class universities including Kings, Imperial and LSE, to develop a schools-university mentoring & support partnership on climate action and sustainability.

The Summit will showcase work across London schools, including initiatives such as Eco-Schools, Transform Our World, Let’s Go Zero, London National Park City schools, World’s Largest Lesson, Teach the Future, #FridaysForFuture etc.

Working with the Department for Education, the Greater London Authority, London Councils, OFSTED, teaching unions and teacher networks, the Summit will highlight the policy reform agenda. Working with finance and private sector leaders from the Green Finance Institute, London First, Thames Water and London Employers, the Summit will address the finance, resilience, skills & careers agendas.

The GLOBE Student-MP Climate Surgery, taking place during the Summit on Friday 1 July 2022, will give practical effect to #FridaysForFuture’s call for action by facilitating constituency-based dialogue with London’s 73 Members of Parliament on their role in addressing the climate emergency. This is a major opportunity to connect the LCAW Schools Climate Summit and student voices with lawmakers. Linked to the LCAW London Climate Curriculum and designed as an opportunity to engage students directly with their local MPs on climate change, the day will seek to improve civic education and promote practical citizenship.

This year, the Student-MP Climate Surgery goes global, with surgeries being held in Nigeria (Abuja – 29 June 2022), South Africa, Egypt, Uganda and Senegal throughout the year, feeding into COP27.

Please join us in this collective effort to leverage the full potential of schools, bring hope and bend the curve on climate change.

Malini Mehra

Founder, Schools Climate Summit; Co-chair LCAW Education & Skills Group


Martin Crabbe

Head of Geography, Glebe School, Bromley; Co-chair, LCAW Education & Skills Group

Summit Objectives

The Schools Climate Summit’s objective is to create a platform for debate and action on the role of the education sector in the climate and sustainability transition. Scale is everything and schools can be a significant delivery mechanism for London’s net zero & circular economy goals. This will not happen overnight and the LCAW Summit will provide an annual focal point geared towards delivery by 2030. The first step is overcoming fragmentation and re-tooling to think as a school system and deliver as an education cluster.

Climate change is too often seen as a carbon mitigation problem alone and core challenges of adaptation and resilience are neglected. This is especially relevant for the schools sector and the Summit will champion a balanced approach addressing both mitigation and adaptation, as well as the need to build resilience, through policy and practitioner engagement.

Specifically, the Summit will promote a risk-based approach to climate action and adoption of the Greater London Authority’s ground-breaking climate adaptation guidance across the London school estate (adapting as necessary). On the circular economy, the Summit will promote cooperation with London Councils and ReLONDON (formerly LWARB) on school strategies to promote zero waste through school-based efforts to reduce consumption emissions and food waste.

The Summit will also share the annual results of the London Schools Climate Action Map Survey showing which schools are engaged in which climate/sustainability-related initiatives, to promote networking and collaboration.

The Summit seeks to raise awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and promotes SDG targets 13.3 and 4.7 on climate and sustainability education.

Global Reach

London has often set the pace for educational innovation and where the city leads, others have followed. The Schools Climate Summit will also leverage London’s status as a major global city to engage international education leaders and the youth and global climate communities.

This year’s GLOBE Student-MP Climate Surgery takes place across all of London’s 73 parliamentary constituencies during the Schools Climate Summit, as well as internationally throughout the year to feed into COP27 – Surgeries are being held in Nigeria (Abuja – 29 June 2022), South Africa, Egypt, Uganda and Senegal.

Summit Structure

The Summit will consist of hybrid digital/on-site events across five days from Monday 27 June to Friday 1 July. Each day will engage with one of the Summit’s five major themes – the four ‘C’s and the one ‘F’ – Campus, Curriculum, Community, Careers and Finance. There are three primary modes of engagement: school-based activities; participation in a curated official Summit programme; and/or engaging in thematic Deep Dives covering the Summit’s five major themes. Each participating school is encouraged to organise events during the Summit using a ‘whole school’ approach model addressing the five core Summit themes.

London has a highly diverse schools’ sector, scattered across its vast metropolitan geography, and inclusion is a key objective. The Summit will seek to ensure that schools from all of London’s inner and outer boroughs have an opportunity to engage, including from every school sector: state; independent; faith-based; alternative provision/pupil referral units; special needs and international.

Towards this, ‘Lighthouse’ schools will be appointed to at as beacons for their school sector and for school leaders to encourage peer-to-peer engagement. As the Schools Climate Summit 2022 is part of a decade-long process of London-wide school engagement and sectoral transformation, our objective is to engage all of London’s 3500 schools over this period. The contribution of Lighthouse schools and school leaders will be key to achieving this ambition.

Mental Health and Climate Communication

As the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the damage wrought to children’s mental health is being widely acknowledged. According to the Royal College of Psychiatry, one in six children in England is estimated to have a probable mental health condition, and the number of children being referred for help is increasing. England’s recent children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, has warned that current provision for children is nowhere near sufficient to meet children’s needs and new government targets to increase access to care are needed. Schools are on the frontlines of this mental health pandemic, with staff, parents & carers and other members of the school community also affected.

For the past two years, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, LCAW had begun to engage with the Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA), to ensure that our engagement with children and young people did not exacerbate eco-anxiety and communication with young audiences was carefully crafted.

This work has taken on greater significance since the pandemic and we have produced Guidance on effective climate change communication with children in partnership with the CPA. Mental health and climate communication is integrated into the LCAW Schools Climate Summit agenda and longer-term work programme.

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