Sustainable Schools Victoria: some preliminary outcomes of the Victorian Pilot involving over 80 schools
Sustainable Schools Victoria is a joint initiative of the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage and the Victorian Government. Many organisations have contributed to the development of Sustainable Schools Victoria, and to enabling schools to participate in the program.
Sustainable Schools takes a whole school approach to improving environmental, educational, social and economic outcomes for schools. It has a strong focus on student learning and involvement in strategy, planning and implementation.
What is the approach of Sustainable Schools?
Sustainable Schools is built around four fundamental approaches:
1. Cooperating with other groups
2. Providing an effective framework for implementation
3. Achieving positive outcomes
4. Building on a strong foundation
Twelve key elements for implementation
Research into the EcoRecycle Waste Wise Schools Program and Sustainable Schools suggests that twelve key elements are essential as steps toward the successful progression of schools from awareness to leadership in education for sustainable development.
Case study: Pinewood Primary School
Pinewood Primary School in Mt Waverley, Victoria, exemplifies the twelve key elements of sustainability. Its program covers themes including waste, energy, school grounds and biodiversity and is run through the Science, Maths, Art and SOSE Key Learning Areas. The program is part of the three-year school charter and has produced a marked cultural change within the whole school community.
Winner of the 2003 Schools' Garden Awards, the school works with many organisations including Gould League, the Youth Employment Scheme, the local nursery and a range of other community organisations.
The school has seen a range of economic benefits from its sustainability approach, with
The community has become widely involved. According to the 2003 school level report, student absences were below the State mean in all year levels for the first time in five years. Parents rated the school higher than the State benchmarks on all variables for the first time in two years. Staff sick leave was significantly lower than the State mean for the first time in three years.
Environmentally, students are encouraged to bring reusable containers; staff and students jointly maintain compost bins and worm farms; and the photocopier use is monitored with a drawer dedicated for single-sided paper. Electricity consumption has been reduced by 30%, by means including closing external doors, which reduce heating and cooling times while maintaining a comfortable environment. Water has been saved by installing infrared urinals and water tanks, which have kept water usage constant despite an additional 150 square metres of garden. There has been ongoing development of various themed gardens to encourage biodiversity, and a wetlands system to collect stormwater run-off.
Other case studies of sustainable schools are also provided online by the Gould League.
To find out more about Sustainable Schools contact:
Phone: 03 9532 0909
Mr Jim Grant
Jim has been the visionary planner behind much of the Gould League's work over the last five years, and was awarded a 1999 Public Service medal and a 2003 Churchill Fellowship in recognition of his contribution to Environmental Education. Jim participates in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commission on Education Group, the Schools Working Group of the National Environment Education Council, the Australian Marine Education Alliance (AMEA), is Vice President of the Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) and a Key Consultant to the National Environmental Education Foundation.
Ms Pat Armstrong
Pat has been instrumental in developing and managing the EcoRecycle Waste Wise Schools Program, as well as Sustainable Schools, and has empowered thousands of teachers and students through her vision and enthusiasm. Pat is a leader in Australian waste and litter education, as a member of the Executive of the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) and the WMAA (Victoria), Convener of the Waste Education Working Group (Victoria) and Chair of the WMAA Education Division. She regularly presents at national and international sustainability education conferences.
Subject HeadingsCurriculum planning