Letter to Michael Gove, The Sunday Times, 14th April 2013.

I have joined with David Attenborough and many others in writing a letter urging Michael Gove to abandon his mad plans to downgrade teaching on the natural environment and climate change in the national curriculum. It is published in The Sunday Times, and reproduced here. Thanks to Elisabeth Whitbread and Matt Williams for organising this.

Sir,
As the loss of wildlife and habitats continues apace, both in the UK and globally, and as evidence suggests growing numbers of children are missing out on the mental and physical health benefits of spending time in nature, the place of the natural environment in the national curriculum is more critical than ever.
Indeed, the British Government has committed to nurturing our children’s love and respect for nature under two binding international agreements (the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi targets).
However, under the Government’s new draft national curriculum for England, education on the environment would start three years later than at present and all existing references to care and protection would be removed. This is both unfathomable and unacceptable.
Today’s children are tomorrow’s custodians of nature. Government has a duty to ensure that all pupils have the chance to learn about threats to the natural world, to be inspired to care for it and to explore ways to preserve and restore it. These proposals not only undermine our children’s understanding and love of nature, but ultimately threaten nature itself, and through it the well-being of young people and all future generations.

Sir David Attenborough, Broadcaster and naturalist
Sir Tim Smit KBE, Chief Executive of Development and Co-founder, The Eden Project
Sir Christian Bonington, Mountaineer
Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth
Baroness Young of Old Scone, Peer and former Chief Executive of the Environment Agency and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North
Beth Gardner, Chief Executive, Council for Learning Outside the Classroom
Camila Batmanghelidjh, CEO, Kids Company
Chris Packham, Naturalist and broadcaster
Dame Vivienne Westwood, Designer
David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF UK
Dr Mike Clarke, Chief Executive, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Writer, broadcaster and campaigner
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future
Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge
Maggie Williams, Chair, Earth Science Teachers' Association
Neil Sinden, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Campaign to Protect Rural England
Professor William Scott, University of Bath and President of NAEE – the National Association of Environmental Education
Simon King OBE, President of the Wildlife Trusts
Stacey Solomon, Singer, TV presenter
Stanley Johnson, Conservationist and former MEP
Tony Juniper, Environmental advisor and writer
Professor Alex Rogers, Professor in Conservation Biology, University of Oxford
Alistair Gammell OBE, Conservationist
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavillion
Cathy Dean, Director, Save the Rhino International
Ceri Levy, Wildlife filmmaker
Charles Secrett, National Coordinator of the ACT! Alliance
Professor Chris King, Professor of Earth Science Education, Keele University
Professor Cynthia Burek, Professor of Geoconservation, University of Chester
David Bond and Ashley Jones, Project Wild Thing
Dr David Chivers, Reader in Wildlife biology, primate socio-ecology and rain-forest conservation, University of Cambridge
David Lindo, The Urban Birder
Dr David Whitebread, Senior Lecturer in Psychology of Education, University of Cambridge
Deborah Curtis and Gavin Turk, Founders and Directors, House of Fairy Tales
Professor Dianne Edwards CBE FRS, President of the The Linnean Society
Dixe Wills, Author
Dr Duncan Jones, Headteacher, Northleigh Church of England Primary School and EcoSchool, Worcestershire
Professor E J Millner-Gulland, Professor in Conservation Science, Imperial College of Science and Technology
Elisabeth Whitebread, Director, Climate Rush
Elizabeth Rollinson, Executive Secretary, The Linnean Society of London
Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield, Authors of Going Wild, Nature's Playground and Make It Wild
George Monbiot, Journalist and writer
Georgina Domberger, Director, Whitley Fund for Nature
Dr Heather Koldewey, Co-founder and Field Conservation Manager, Project Seahorse
Helen Buckland, Director, Sumatran Orangutan Society
Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London, former teacher
Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, Director, Business Innovation and Education, WWF International
John Reynolds, Geoconservation UK
Jon Millington and Julie Holland, Wild Learning and Development Ltd
Jonathan Elphick, Natural History Author
Professor Jonathan Gosling, Professor of Leadership Studies, University of Exeter
Joss Garman, Campaigner
Jules Howard, Zoologist and nature writer
Juliette Daigre, Education Manager, People and Planet
Dr Kirsten Pullen, CEO, British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Lord Judd, Peer
Dr Lucy Gilliam, Director, New Dawn Traders
Lucy McRobert, Director, A Focus on Nature
Professor Malcolm Kirkup, Director, One Planet MBA, University of Exeter
Dr Mark Avery, Naturalist and author
Mark and Mo Constantine, Co-founders, Lush Ltd
Dr Mark Harrison, Managing Director, Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project
Mark Pritchard, CEO, Green Light Trust
Mark Shand, Co-Founder, Elephant Family
Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive, Butterfly Conservation
Matt Williams, Co-Director, UK Youth Climate Coalition
Mike Browne, Chairman, GeoConservation UK
Natalie Bennett Leader, Green Party of England and Wales
Dr Netta Weinstein, Lecturer in Psychology, University of Essex
Paul West, Primary school teacher
Pete Gamby, Marketing Manager, Opticron
Richard Hawkins, Director, Public Interest Research Centre
Richard Louv, Journalist, author and Founding Chairman of the Children and Nature Network
Dr Rob Lambert, Lecturer in Tourism and the Environment, Nottingham University Business School
Robert Lucas, Chief Executive Officer, Field Studies Council
Ruth Powys, Director, Elephant Family
Ruth Wharrier, PGCE Teacher, Snape Primary School, Suffolk
Saci Lloyd, Author and teacher
Sam Fanshawe, CEO, Marine Conservation Society
Sam Hewitt, Founder and Director, Sea Urchins magazine
Sara Oldfield, Secretary General, Botanic Gardens Conservation International
Professor Susan Page, Head of Dept of Geography, University of Leicester
Sara Parkin, Founder Director, Forum for the Future
Sue Sheward MBE, Founder and Chairperson, Orangutan Appeal UK
Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive, Trees for Cities
Tamsin Omond, Campaigner
The Woodland Trust
Tim "Mac" McCarthy, Founder of Embercombe
Tim Appleton MBE, Rutland Water Nature Reserve Manager
Tim Mackrill, Senior Reserve Officer, Rutland Water Nature Reserve
Tom Rippin, CEO, On Purpose
Dr William Bird MBE, General Practitioner, CEO Intelligent Health and Former Strategic Health Advisor, Natural England