Our sustainability framework provides just the right balance of structure versus flexibility. The 7-Steps and the awards criteria give structure, yet there are almost unlimited possibilities for Eco-Schools in designing action projects and developing the school curriculum to explore the themes of their projects.
Eco-Schools Australia joins a host of great environmental education programs now available in Australia and comes at a time when many schools, without realising it, have already completed parts of the Eco-Schools program, such as forming an “Eco-Committee.” The Planet Protectors and The Wildlife Wanderers are just some of the names committees have adopted.
Many schools already have a SEMP (School Environmental Management Plan). These schools are encouraged to sign up – perhaps upon checking the
Award Criteria they might find an Eco-Schools Bronze Award is within easy reach!
Signing up to Eco-Schools will give new ideas and focus, help foster connections with other Eco-Schools, and spur on progress with the important recognition and motivation that comes with achieving an international award.
Eco-Schools makes working on sustainability practical and fun and is motivational for students and teachers. Investigating environmental issues can sometimes be overwhelming, but Eco-Schools encourages small steps of positive practical action.
The Bronze, Silver and Green Flag Awards encourage schools to give projects even greater depth by challenging them with tasks like monitoring and evaluating project impacts, designing and adopting an Eco-Code, and adding a community engagement element to all projects.
Students in Eco-Schools are empowered and engaged about environmental issues because they get stuck in to practical projects that they feel are needed to improve the school environment or to address a global issue – whether that’s campaigning against litter, improving wildlife habitats on campus, saving water or investigating Fairtrade. Their teachers can use project tasks as content for lessons, while helping students to explore the underlying sustainability issues that their project is tackling. Projects can also bring traditional literacy and numeracy work to life, whether that’s recording and charting waste from school lunches or calculating the volume of compost required to fill the school’s new vegie plot.
Harrington Park Public School was the host school for our NSW launch event. This school adopted the Eco-Schools approach several years ago after their principal experienced the program during an overseas visit. Now several schools in the Macarthur region have followed suit, supported by Camden Park Environmental Education Centre. Well done to this network of schools on leading the way and championing the program.
“We’re an Eco-School” is a proud statement for students, teachers and parents to make and their Eco-Code is an important part of the school’s identity.
Schools are the heart of our communities. A litter-free, healthy, eco-friendly school is a real asset to a community – both in the physical environment of a local area and in giving young people knowledge, skills and positive attitudes towards the environment. Of course, all of this can have a ripple effect amongst parents and neighbours too. The introduction of this program is sure to give a real boost to Keep Australia Beautiful’s mission “for a litter free and sustainable Australia”.
Keep Australia Beautiful National Association is leading the Eco-Schools program in Australia. Interested schools can proceed straight to the Membership page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.