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Making a difference with education for sustainable development

A survey of schools demonstrates that focussing on sustainable development has a direct impact on the actions of pupils and their families, and on the wider community, while the schools benefit from improved provision through cost savings and better behaviour.

A new report from Ofsted, Education for sustainable development. Improving schools – improving lives, reports the findings of a three-year inspection programme looking at improvement in education for sustainable development in fourteen schools. The small scale survey followed a group of schools over a three year period, including Staunton-on-Wye Endowed Primary School in Herefordshire.

The report details examples of effective teaching and learning and the positive impact it is having on pupils’ increasingly responsible attitude to sustainable development in the sample of schools. A further finding is that primary schools are making greater progress than secondary schools in improving their provision.

Practical lessons for future well-being

Pippa Lloyd, head teacher of Staunton-on-Wye Endowed Primary School in Herefordshire, highlighted in the report, said:

We are pleased to be part of this report as sustainability and the green agenda is vital. Pupils’ involvement raises their commitment and engagement.

For example, pupils in one of our classes took part in a project on the effects of litter on people, wildlife and the environment. They became concerned by what they had learnt about the environmental damage caused by waste carrier bags.

Our eco-committee ordered fairly-traded cloth bags printed with the pupils’ design and sold these to parents and the community. The project was very successful in raising the issues and encouraging the community to adopt sustainable practices.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, said:

It is hugely impressive to see the enthusiasm and initiative of young people leading to more informed attitudes and sustainable lifestyles. As a direct result of pupils’ activities, we are seeing more responsible use of resources in schools and beyond them.

This report shows how pupils respond to practical activities relevant to their lives and future well-being. Schools have shown that focusing on sustainability can also reduce financial costs and contribute to what is often a striking improvement in pupil behaviour. I hope other schools will be able to learn from the examples highlighted in this small scale survey.

Achieving sustainable schools for all by 2020

The report recommends that to meet the Government’s target for all schools to be sustainable schools by 2020, sustainability has to be a priority in all schools’ improvement plans. It calls for a whole school approach to embed sustainability, with all pupils having access to out of class learning. The report says teachers need training and support to help them understand what is required to make a school sustainable.

The report highlights many such examples of strategies, ideas and actions that have led to improvement and may help others to meet the commitment for all schools to be sustainable schools by 2020.

Ofsted publications on sustainable development education

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