Survey into Nuclear Disarmament Education in Secondary Schools in England

New study shows the challenges teachers face in delivering NDE education and how these may be overcome.  

It can be argued that teaching about nuclear weapons, including their role and importance, their history and the issues of disarmament raised, have been part of the secondary curricula in England in some subjects, for several years. These subjects include History, Politics, Religious Studies and Citizenship and thus this teaching could be considered mainstream.

However there appears to be little research into what is being taught, how it is being taught and what teachers themselves believe about nuclear education and nuclear disarmament education (NDE). This, alongside the current threat of the use of nuclear weapons during the war in the Ukraine and the possibility of US nuclear weapons returning to the UK (Borger, 2022b) arguably makes this topic particularly relevant to the lives of young people today. 

The importance of young people being able to access disarmament education and training opportunities has been highlighted by the UN Secretary-General in 2018 in his Agenda for Disarmament (United Nations, 2018). It was hoped that undertaking education and training would give young people the tools and networks that are needed to understand and draw informed conclusions on disarmament issues.

This, coupled with the UK Government’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, one of which aims to ‘promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development’ (DFID, 2021), further shows the importance of research that enables organisations to gain a deeper understanding of the state of NDE within secondary schools in England.  

This report therefore identifies trends around the current state of NDE provision within secondary schools in England. It also provides facts and figures on what teachers think about nuclear education and makes recommendations for how more comprehensive provision can be taught, so that all students are able to be educated in ‘the spirit of peace’ (Department for Education, 2010).