International Education Week and beyond …

International Education Week has become an annual celebration of all things related to international schools collaboration at the British Council.  This year the British Council will continue with the momentum and engagement in all things climate change related.

How schools can get involved and some highlights which may be of interest are listed below.

  • the British Council’s first schools podcast with TES, featuring Glasgow teacher Claire Mackay, and Director of LfSS Pete Higgins, exploring how teacher collaboration can boost climate education, and the importance of sharing practice on climate change teaching.



  • Climate resources for school teachers – resources and fun activities for use in the classroom or at home, including the Climate Change Challenge activity sheet.


  • And of course there is still opportunity for teachers to participate in the MOOCs run by University of Edinburgh on Learning for a Sustainable Future, and the Live at the COP.  Both offer a fantastic learning journey and bank of resources for people to reflect individually, and to inspire professional practise.



Personal Reflections of COP26 as a DLO – Gary Johnstone

Captains Regent delivering San Marino’s National Statement

Many months ago I expressed an interest in being involved in supporting COP26. Partly driven by my background as a teacher of geography and modern studies, I have maintained an interest in the environment and geopolitics. But my motivation was of course more fundamental; there are few of us that can’t have been moved and therefore called to action recently as we have witnessed the awful impact of global warming on people and our planet. Added to that, I hoped that COP26 would be a real success and game changer. As a proud Glaswegian, Scot and Brit, I hoped that we would be remembered positively by the thousands who attended. I was very fortunate to be offered the role of Delegation Liaison Officer (DLO) working with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Each DLO was there to prepare for the arrival of world leaders and their delegations. I was assigned the San Marino delegation and it was a pleasure to work with the country’s leaders and ministers. San Marino, for those who might not know, is a small enclave within Italy. It is the oldest republic in the world, dating back to around 300 AD. My life as a DLO was made more interesting as this little nation is unique – it is the only country in the world with two Heads of State (Captains Regent) – a fact that very few people are aware of – and this meant that in any meetings or photo opportunities I had to ensure that this was realised and respected. The Captains Regent (sounds much better in the Italian – Capitani Reggenti) could never be separated and never one treated more important than the other. Whilst San Marino is the oldest country in the world, it has the youngest Head of State (joint), Captain Regent Giacomo Simoncini who at a mere 27 makes other world leaders like Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau look like old men! Captain Regent Francesco Mussoni makes up the other half of the joint Heads of State for the Republic.

Captains Regent Preparing for Glasgow Declaration Family Photo

For a number of weeks prior to the World Leaders’ Summit I was involved in ensuring the logistics of travel, border control, airport greeting, Covid testing, accommodation and security was tailored appropriately for the delegation. The two days of the summit were frenetic. I had the privilege of access to all areas including the VVIP lounge where World Leaders spent their down time. As a DLO I had to facilitate bi-lateral meetings and brush-byes with presidents, prime ministers and ministers all within a time-restricted yet fluid situation. This also meant guiding leaders to the correct location at precise times throughout the two days. A huge moment was the delivery of the National Statement when each country was given three minutes to tell the world about their commitment to change. As they say in the musical Hamilton, I can honestly now say “I was in the room where it happened.”

San Marino was one of the 40 original countries to sign up to the Glasgow Leaders’ declaration on forest and land use. This demonstrates a commitment to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. It is so pleasing to think our city’s name will be associated with this huge initiative.

The role of DLO was challenging in a number of ways for us. Can you imagine the power of persuasion required to convince over 100 World Leaders that it was a good idea to go from the SEC (blue zone) to Kelvingrove Art Gallery for the evening reception by way of an electric bus? Or how to tactfully choreograph the timing and order of such an unusual experience – each of us with the tickets to allow our leaders on the bus!

Captain Regent Francesco Mussoni , President Joe Biden, Captain Regent Giacomo Simoncini and Minister Luca Bercalli relaxing at Kelvinhall

It was for me a real honour to be involved in such an historic event. Who would have thought that an opportunity would present itself allowing one to literally rub shoulders with cardinals, presidents and prime ministers. Fighting with the world’s press was a regular white-knuckle ride and I am afraid at one point I came off the worse for wear under the scrum of photographers chasing down President Macron. The job was physically exhausting (my commute started at 5.47 am in Bishopton station each day and lasted well into the night), exhilarating and rewarding. To my colleagues I would reflect that many of the skills we develop as HMI stood me in good stead for this role. Resilience, diplomacy, managing expectations, receiving huge amounts of information and presenting it accurately and simply, keeping calm and responding positively – they are all in our tool bag. A younger me might be tempted to pursue a career with the FCDO!

In finishing, Her Majesty The Queen urged world leaders to earn a place in history by answering the call of future generations. I hope COP26 galvanises our leaders, yes – but more than just our leaders – businesses and civic society too including our own organisation to re-double our efforts to make COP26 the defining moment it needs to be.




Volunteering at COP26 by Fiona Shaw (Development Officer, Improving Gender Balance and Equalities)

It was a dark, dreary lockdown day in January 2021 when I first saw the opportunity to be part of one of the most significant and exciting events the City of Glasgow has seen – COP 26 Climate Summit.

Ten months on and I have completed two of my volunteering shifts at COP26. After originally applying to be part of the Active Transport team I was disappointed to find out there wasn’t a place available. However all was not lost as, a few weeks after finding this out, I was invited to be part of the Media team….an ambiguous yet very intriguing position! Turns out it would involve hosting the conference’s Destination Media Hub in the centre of the city and meeting and greeting members of the press.

The Hub itself is a celebration of all the sustainable practice Glasgow has to offer in terms of culture, business and social initiatives. Dotted around the room were plenty of products and initiatives that celebrate Scottish innovation and its approach to a circular economy: Jaw Brew beers (who used old bakers rolls to make their pioneering beer: Hardtack and Roller), a plant pot company Potr who take fishing rope waste and turn it into self-watering plant pots, ACS clothing who are the largest clothing rental and renewal service provider in Europe and Kabloom who produce biodegradable ‘guerilla gardening grenades’ plus many more! All of this accompanied by the dulcet tones of Glasgow musicians playing in the background on the ‘Glasgow makes music’ playlist.


On my shifts so far I have welcomed members of the press, offered them a comfy seat, a place to take calls and a hot drink and escorted them to meet dignitaries from the conference. I have also met like-minded volunteers and we have worked together to highlight good news stories from across the city to be passed on to members of the press. I was really keen to celebrate the work of schools and communities in these stories so I made sure lots of these were sent their way!

Volunteering is always enjoyable and a lovely way to gain new skills and give back to the community, but volunteering at COP26 is certainly special, memorable, and I feel grateful to have been part of it.  But like many of us, I am hoping the world leaders do reach an historic agreement that actually tackles the climate emergency.

As a final thought, I wanted to share a link to a video from the LfS MOOC course that really struck a chord with me this week and really made me think: The High Price of Materialism



Educate on Climate day, New York Times Climate Hub, 5th November

Mark Irwin reflects on his visit to Educate on Climate day at COP26.

Every Saturday growing up, I would visit my grandparents in their flat in Govan.  I would peer out of their kitchen window, looking across the graving docks and the Clyde to the gothic tower of Glasgow University high on the hill, and ask questions about all that I could see.  Today I look back towards their flat from the train window as I head to the New York Times Climate Hub.  The tented expanse of the COP 26 Blue Zone covers the riverbank from the SEC to the Riverside Museum.  The graving docks are lit up with letters 7m high and 70m long. The text “No New Worlds” faces the leaders and delegates across the river, a reminder to all of the climate  emergency we face.


I pass through the layers of security at the Climate Hub and stand in the foyer to get my bearings.  Instantly I bump into people I’ve been working with these last few months online and it really is a fantastic feeling to finally meet in person.  I listen to a panel discussion from the World Health Organisation on the impact of climate change on health and mortality around the world.  It is a stark message, and one that needs to be heard more.  I bump into more teachers and we head for a table to talk about what we have heard, and what we can do to move Learning for Sustainability forward post COP 26.  Words that feature often are empathy, humanity, empowerment alongside the need to make deeper connections across Scotland and the world.  I listen and reflect on how important it is to listen to those on the frontline, and hope that the delegates in the Blue Zone are doing the same.


It’s a Friday.  It’s the world’s biggest summit on climate change. So of course there is a Fridays for the Future climate march, the global movement started by Greta Thunberg.  It has grown from Greta sitting solo in strike outside the Swedish parliament in 2018 to over 14 million strikers worldwide in 7,500 cities. The Glasgow march leaves from Kelvingrove Park, only 10 minutes from the Hub.  I head over to meet some young people and to chat to them and their parents about the March.  About 30,000 protesters head off towards George Square to hear young climate activists from around the world.  I head back to the Hub feeling exhilarated by these conversations.


I’m back in time to grab a coffee and head in to the Forum for a session on Future Proofing pupils for the Changing world of work.  It’s a lively and fascinating panel, including Chris van de Kuyl of Minecraft fame, and AI researcher Professor Rose Luckin of UCL.  However it is a comment from Professor Dave Reay of Edinburgh University that really strikes a chord with me.  It’s not about making our young people “Future Ready”, its actually supporting them to be “Now Ready”.


Professor Reay’s comment solidified a feeling I’ve had since COP 26 began.  We use the word future all the time when we talk about climate change and its impacts. But does the use of this word give decision makers a get-out to put off the actions urgently needed now?  Hearing from people from across the globe, and in particular young people who are already living with the effects of climate change, it’s clear that delivery of actions needs to happen now.  If it is left to the future, then it is too late.



COP 26 blog – A step out into a new world

STEM Education Officer Mairi Thomson reflects on her visit to COP 26 and its legacy.

Leaving for the launch of the New York Times Climate Hub I was struck by the poignancy of the moment: this would be the first time I had been on a train since the pandemic began. Like many, my ‘working from home’ life had quickly adjusted to the daily commute to the back room. It had been easy, all too easy, to avoid the city these last 18 months, managing to strike a balance of working, dog walking and family but the forgotten jacket on the train quickly transported me to the present reminding me this was different!


The city was strangely quiet. I had expected to see scenes of activism just like the ones that had filled my television in the days before. I don’t think people had wearied – just that the carefully curated road closures had led me a different path. The hum of helicopters, the chatter of languages, the green lanyards and the camera bags told me I had reached the Climate Hub.

Through security and COVID checks, inside was an oasis of calm. A reverence for nature greeted me through the living art installation by ES Devlin.  197 trees and plants temporarily installed to represent the 197 countries who ratified the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.  The art cleverly nudged me to breathe in the importance of this COP and to pause and reflect on not only the enormity of the crisis facing humanity but also the urgency.

Each of the evening’s contributors offered up something unique from their perspective.  The New York Times editor in chief spoke of journalists seeking truth to tell the most urgent climate change stories of our time, how they use drones to go places people can’t and how using local photographers shows both intimacy and fear. Describing Greenland’s ice sheet as Swiss cheese reminded me (in case I had forgotten) that climate change is devastatingly real.  Nicola Sturgeon reflected on the significance of COP being hosted in Glasgow, a city at the forefront of the industrial age, how the science shows us we are running out of time, how we need to reduce emissions and reach net zero but without leaving people and communities behind. Beattie Wolfe performed her song from Green to Red as we were treated to a visual representation of 800000 years of carbon emission using data from NASA.

By all measures the night was a success but what measures are our leaders, our activists or indeed am I using to determine whether this COP has been successful?  Big announcements are one thing but important action happens at a local level.  Dave Reay, expert in Carbon Management. says that the most powerful thing anyone can do in terms of taking climate action is to talk about it. Talk with family, talk with community, talk with peers. Yes! This is something I can do (and those of you who know me know I love to talk!).  So with this in mind I am stepping out into the soon to be new and post-COP world and I am filled with hope and possibility about what we can achieve together.

Join us for COPTV Extra

The Scottish Youth Film Foundation (SYFF) is taking 12 young people to the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Glasgow (COP 26) where they will report from one of the most important events ever to take place in Scotland.

Their aim is to link up young people in Scotland who care about the planet with other young people around the world with the same goals and ideas. The group, who have been recruited from all over Scotland, are creating COP TV, a daily online broadcast which from the 8th-12th November will air for an hour and let the world know what the young people of Scotland think about the climate crisis and the solutions being discussed at COP.

Programmes will feature live interviews, pre-recorded films and inserts produced daily to reflect the breadth of what’s happening.

Check out the COP TV Broadcasts via the following links:

Monday 08 Nov (Available to view) –

Tuesday 09 Nov (Available to view) –

Wednesday 10 Nov (Available to view) –

Thursday 11 Nov (Available to view) –

Friday 12 Nov (Tune in at 5pm to see the next broadcast stream LIVE – or use same link to watch later) –

AND Now, Education Scotland and SYFF are giving you a chance to engage with the team through COPTV EXTRA. The COPTV EXTRA sessions will run on MS Teams from 09:30 to 10:00 on 9th to 12th November.

The COPTV Extra sessions are aimed at upper primary and secondary pupils across Scotland and will give schools a chance to engage with the COPTV Team. Ask questions about the biggest event ever to land in Scotland! Shape the COPTV content for the day! And get a unique behind back-stage insight into putting COPTV together.

Register for COPTV EXTRA through this link:

Please note: if you plan to attend on more than one of the dates then you’ll need to register separately for each day.

Find out more about COPTV

COPTV will be broadcast on COPTV YouTube channel from 5-6pm from the 8th to 12th November.

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