‘Children do not have to glue themselves to things to tackle climate change’

Column by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie.

Many congratulations to Forest Green Rovers for their promotion to League One for the first time in their history.

A goalless draw against West Country rivals Bristol Rovers at the weekend was still enough to ensure they go up a division from next season.

I understand that the ambition now is to win League Two in the remaining three games and I wish the team the best of luck in capping off a tremendous season with a trophy at the end.

That would be the icing on the cake but I know the fans really wanted promotion and the players and manager Rob Edwards have delivered.

It is only five years since the club was promoted to the English Football League for the first time ever. The rise has been meteorite and I know the fans will savour every moment playing against some big clubs with big histories next season.

I was pleased to be part of a big win for GCSE education, post-16 education and green skills last week.

The Government has backed a campaign I was involved in to put green skills at the forefront of education and further education in the future.

A new Natural History GCSE alongside a range of other policies launched as part of a new sustainability strategy for schools by the Education Secretary. He said the plan would allow more opportunities for children to learn about the environment, engage with nature and pursue careers in green industries.

I have been a champion, along with colleagues in the Conservative Environment Network, to secure better education for both young people and those who want to retrain.

We very much need to plug the skills shortage that is coming as we transition to a green skilled economy.

More qualifications are needed in areas such as electric vehicle maintenance, renewable energy operations and maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades for Britain’s homes.

Initially this was not part of the Government’s original plan, but Nadhim Zahawi has listened and confirmed it would now be included.

I think it’s good we are going to teach children about the reality of issues and show them that they can be trained to be part of the solutions now and in the future.

It will not be a surprise to regular readers of this column that I believe children should learn that they do not have to glue themselves to things or get arrested to tackle climate change. There is plenty that can be done and the new education work will show more than the doomsday scenario given by some groups. So many young people talk to me about the environment when I visit schools in Stroud. It is a big topic they care about very much. So, I welcome this news. I think it is a big step forward in meeting the challenges we face with the green skills emergency together with giving a boost for schools and colleges.

Finally, I was in Nailsworth at the weekend and then in Berkeley for the return of Point to Point racing. Seeing the beautiful blossom in Nailsworth and the spring feel around the town was a delight. There was also a street fair showcasing lots of local organisations who do amazing work around the area. The racing was a lot of fun. The organisers worked really hard to get it on again after the pandemic so I was pleased to see so many families enjoying the event in the sunshine.

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