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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Kids4climate School Study


The United Kingdom (UK) is the world’s 14th largest consumer of energy per capita (, 2022), with 2021 consumption reaching 134 million tonnes of oil equivalent (DBEIS, 2021). Often overlooked, the country's emissions from heating homes are responsible for 28% of its total – higher than any other single entity (DoB, 2020). If the UK is to reach the targets set in the Climate Change Act of 2008, then significant improvement is required. But being so high also means it has the greatest potential for positive change.
Occupant behaviour in the home is now coming to the forefront of energy strategies, especially when considered in tandem with the rising costs of utilities and living. Occupants often unwittingly increase consumption, for example by simultaneously heating and over-ventilating during winter [Wingfield et al., 2008]. The government has recently decided to allocate £ 1 billion to improve houses to cut energy bills for people [, 2022].


The overarching aim is to improve the energy knowledge of occupants, in turn allowing them to make better decisions in the home regarding energy consumption – reducing carbon emissions and saving money for the occupants. This research will focus on one aspect of this – transferring this knowledge to adult occupants in the home. Previously, children have been successfully utilised to disseminate knowledge to their families on topics such as healthy diets, road safety and anti-smoking, all through educational activities within the school environment. This research will expand on those strategies, hosting ‘Eco Days’ in several schools in Hampshire and teaching primary-age children the very basics of energy and climate science in a fun and interactive way.
Lessons have been developed with teachers that are tailored to different age groups with varying levels of detail appropriate for the key stage. A physical take-home activity along with an interactive website will be used to help initiate interactions between generations in the home following the day's lessons.
The website allows children to become an “energy detective” in their homes, logging behaviours and activities such as the temperature of the heating and windows left open. Whilst the physical activity will be a simple card game that the children will first play in school and then “teach” their parents at home. Within the game, participants will test themselves on what they think consumes more or less energy, then learn the correct order and some recommendations on how to mitigate excessive use. The Joker cards will have a QR code to a short survey where their results and some feedback can be gathered for the cost of living crisis analysis.


1. Full day of lessons/activities for School Eco Days that can be utilised by other schools/universities.
2. An intuitive and child-friendly website consisting of videos, activities and games all based around reducing energy in the home that could be further upgraded into an app and provided to other organisations.
3. A deck of playing cards that also has a short “energy in the home” inspired game that can be played by children and parents that teaches them some key facts about how to save energy and money in the home.

Role of Partner Organisations

This research will involve teaching children basic environmental knowledge through several short interactive lessons within the classroom, then providing the children with a take-home activity they can then complete with their parents. The research thus far has shown that schools are ideally positioned for this research as they are already organisations which children view as a trusted partner. By offering an ‘Eco Day’ to schools, along with accompanying curriculum-focused lessons, webapp and activities, this research appeals to many teachers and senior staff, whilst also gathering key data for this research.

The National Curriculum provides the standard for what must be taught to children from 4 to 18, but mentions ‘Climate Change’ only once. This must change. An ideal end goal of this research would be gathering evidence that could be used to shape education policy - i.e. Local Councils seeing how important environmental education is for young children and how learning this knowledge can have a positive effect in reducing carbon emissions and costs of utilities in the home. Councils may then introduce initiatives to schools in their areas. Portsmouth City Council has already shown an interest in this research, which may lead to a positive joint outcome if the grant is awarded, and the work can be completed.

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG3 - Good Health and Well-Being;SDG4 - Quality Education;SDG7 - Affordable and Clean Energy;SDG11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities;SDG12 - Responsible Consumption and Production;SDG13 - Climate Action;SDG15 - Life on Land.

Project Members

Project Lead: Gregory Sewell

Dr Patrick James, Dr Stephanie Gauthier, Dr Sebastian Stein

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