Leading schools towards sustainability
It is now over a decade since the Victorian Primary Principals Association and the Victorian Association of Secondary Principals first published Leadership in learning to care for the environment: an Environmental Education strategy for Victorian school principals (1993/1997). The purpose of this strategy was to provide a framework of school level principles and actions to develop the whole school community's awareness, understandings, skills, attitudes and involvement in addressing the environmental challenges facing society.
The implementation strategies it outlined include:
Specifically, the principal's roles include:
The key role of the principal and school leadership team in leading schools towards sustainability also emerged strongly from the recent evaluation of the Sustainable Schools Stormwater Action Project 2003/2004 (Gough 2004), part of the broader Sustainable Schools initiative. Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and implemented by the Gould League and CERES, the Stormwater Action Project aimed to develop, trial and evaluate water-related projects in a number of schools.
However, embedding an educational change like Sustainable Schools also requires ownership by and involvement from the whole school community, and the evaluation report illustrates this point too, in relation to one of the participating schools, Antonio Park Primary:
The keys to the success of Sustainable Schools at this school have been the broad ownership of the program across the school and the support of the school leadership team. The immersion of all the staff in the professional development program at CERES was a major factor leading to their ownership of the program, as was the engagement of the whole school community.The outcomes of the Stormwater Action Project reflect what is possible with whole school involvement. For the school quoted above, the following outcomes have been achieved.
It is up to a school community to decide to become part of the sustainable schools program and then to decide on their priority areas for action within the current choices of waste, water, biodiversity and energy. These priority areas are then implemented across all aspects of a school - operations, administration, curriculum and professional development. This is the approach that is likely to be advocated as part of the foreshadowed National Environmental Education tatement for Schools (Woods, 2004).
Schools are often familiar with the rhetoric of Environmental Education but do not know where to start in terms of implementation. The Australian government's Sustainable Schools Initiative, combined with the National Environmental Education Statement for Schools, provides a framework and strategy for everyone to get started as we move into the United Nations Decade of Education for sustainable Development 2005-2014.
GOUGH, Annette (2004) Evaluation of the Sustainable Schools Stormwater Action Project 2003/2004. Burwood: Deakin University. Access at http://www.gould.org.au/QBL_outcomes.htm.
Victorian Primary Principals Association/Victorian Association of Secondary Principals (1993/1997) Leadership in learning to care for the environment: An Environmental Education strategy for Victorian school principals. North Melbourne: Victorian Primary Principals Association/Victorian Association of Secondary Principals.
Woods, Peter, 'Environmental Education for a sustainable future: formal schooling', Curriculum Leadership 23 July 2004.
Subject HeadingsCurriculum planning