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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Environmental Education in Western Australia

Brian Rogers
Principal Curriculum Officer, Society and Environment

In Western Australia, environmental issues are highlighted in the curriculum, and a range of schools showcase effective programs for environmental reclamation and management.

Environmental issues have a significant profile within the Western Australian curriculum.

Environmental Responsibility is one of the core values shared across the curriculum as defined in the State's Curriculum Framework. Environmental awareness is also explicit in the learning area outcomes for Society and Environment, and Science.

Ecological Sustainability is one of the three elements within Citizenship education in Western Australia. The Active Citizenship outcome provides an opportunity for students to be involved in improving the environment in real life contexts and across a range of learning areas.

The following examples provide excellent school-based models of Environmental Education.

A program at Churchlands Senior High School has been officially recognised by the United Nations as the best school-based environment project in Australia. The program, Trees for Survival, has been responsible for growing thousands of salt-resistant trees for salt blighted farms.

Students and staff at Wembley Primary School celebrated the 175th Anniversary of Western Australia with the opening of native gardens in the school grounds. Signs have been added, naming the plants, and describing their adaptive characteristics and the traditional uses made of them by Indigenous people. The school community has contributed to the project by carrying out extensive research, soil preparation and planting.

A board game that helps raise awareness about water management is continuing to reap rewards for its designers at Beachlands Primary School in Geraldton. Since its launch hundreds of copies of the game, Sunset Over the Catchment, have been sold. The game was the winning entry in a statewide competition run by the Water and Rivers Commission.

Kinross College Year 8-9 students have been involved in a project that is part of the city's Adopt a Coastline program. Work involves dune rehabilitation, infrastructure upgrades and a general clean up of the Iluka coastal reserve. Students with artistic talent have also been seconded to paint murals depicting sunrise, sunset and the coastal environment on the walls of the three picnic shelters.

Within the National Environmental Educators Network (NEEN), Western Australian representatives expressed an interest in trialing a Sustainable Schools program tailored to their particular needs, and which was in line with present State Government sustainability initiatives. Western Australia has recently been awarded Federal funding for the establishment of this exciting program.

The Western Australian Department of Education and Training funds a number of positions for community-based environmental officers. These officers further the provision of Environmental Education by drawing links with outside agencies involved in environmental issues and by providing professional learning opportunities. The positions are typically filled by seconded teachers and are based at, for example, Herdsman Lake Environmental Centre or Tammin Land Care Centre. Another position, in the Department of Environment, deals with a number of school-based initiatives including Waste Wise, Air Watch and Ribbons of Blue.

The Department of Conservation and Land Management has managed the schools volunteer Bush Rangers Cadets Programme since 1998, which equips students with the skills and opportunities to provide conservation community services. In 2003 the program had expanded to 27 schools in 17 locations around the state.

The current restructuring of the post compulsory curriculum provides courses that incorporate the needs of all students and enable ongoing achievement of Curriculum Framework outcomes. Course committees have an opportunity to emphasise the achievement of particular environmental outcomes in newly developed courses, such as Geography and Earth Science and Environmental Science.

The national conference of the Australian Association for Environmental Education will be held in Western Australia in September 2006. Plans for this conference have begun, and it is likely that the conference will be held in Bunbury, south of Perth.


Subject Headings

Case studies
Civics education
Curriculum planning
Education policy
Environmental Education
School and community
School culture
Western Australia (WA)