The announcement follows a conference held jointly by the Departments for Education and Environment in February, at which delegates from 80 environmental organisations, industry and education called for practical help in teaching about the environment. It also follows months of consultation with the CEE and has the full backing of the DoE.
Environment Secretary John Gummer said: "We shall do all we can to support these DFE initiatives, which are designed to bring clarity and focus to an areas of the curriculum which will become ever more pertinent as we aim to achieve a sustainable and rewarding way of life."
The unprecedented co-operation between the two government departments signals a serious attempt to make progress in environmental education at a time when the DFE has fought shy of tackling areas not covered by the new national curriculum for fear of criticism that teachers are being asked to cover too much.
Mrs Shephard said the CEE will conduct a feasibility project on a Code of Practice to set standards for teaching materials on environmental issues. Tim Osbourn-Jones, director of the CEE, said a key issue will be whether a database should be purely factual or provide subjective, evaluative remarks.
Mrs Shephard is also asking the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority to compile examples of good practice which can be published in a user-friendly and readable format. The CEE now hopes it will be able to co-operate with SCAA to ensure that this guide and the CEE's proposed practitioner's guidebook will be complementary publications.
The CEE guidebook is the next step in its Call to Action initiative, in which the CEE wrote to all schools in England and Wales, urging them to prepare environmental policies and action plans. Tim Osbourn-Jones said the response has been "tremendous", with over 1,500 follow-up enquiries from schools.
* For a report on the February conference, tel: DFE Publications, 0171 510 0150. For details on the feasibility study and Call to Action campaign, contact CEE, tel: 01734 756061