The compost area at Lapstone Public School
Students of all ages in NSW government schools are learning about the environment and helping make their school sustainable under Sustainable Schools NSW, a partnership between the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW and the Department of Education
The Sustainable Schools program helps NSW Department of Education, Catholic and Independent schools work towards ecological sustainability. As well as reducing the environmental impact of the school, the program fosters citizenship among students and teachers and encourages parents and the local community to get involved too.
All NSW public schools need to develop a tailored School Environmental Management Plan which will outline its environmental goals and support student learning by integrating the environmental education curriculum into their daily lives.
The students learn how to use and manage the natural resources within the school grounds in a sustainable way. They become involved in investigating and solving environmental problems, and in turn start to care about nature and protecting the environment.
Many schools have benefited from the development of a School Environmental Management Plan in unexpected ways. At Loftus Public School, the development of a five-year plan helped improved communication and cooperation between the school and parents.
As part of the plan, the students launched a major campaign – 'no waste lunches' – aimed at reducing garbage in the playground. The campaign was so successful that it led to the development of a new school policy.
As communication with parents was crucial to the campaign, students had discussions and made decisions about the content and packaging of their lunches with their parents and carers.
Along the way, the campaign team researched the cost of packed lunches, established guidelines for effective communication strategies with the parents, monitored and recorded data on what was being thrown out, and carried out surveys.
The no-waste lunch box became a part of the school culture and in fact led to a new school policy. It also inspired other initiatives, including a campaign promoting re-usable drink bottles.
Visit Sustainable Schools NSW for more case studies. More than 1000 schools are now registered with the program, which provides resources and auditing tools to support sustainability in schools.
Professional learning for teachers
Workshop participants inspecting a compost bin
The Sustainable Schools program is currently focusing on professional learning for teachers and will be delivering 30 workshops on developing a School Environmental Management Plan during June and July.
The dates of the workshops are listed below.
- 25 June – West Wyalong (primary schools only)
- 25 June – Quakers Hill
- 30 June – Cooma
- 2 July – Port Kembla
- 6 July – Ulladulla
- 7 July – Leichhardt (afternoon only)
- 9 July – Wagga Wagga (secondary schools only)
So far more than 500 teachers have attended over 40 workshops across NSW. The workshops are funded by the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW and the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
Visit Sustainable Schools NSW to register for a workshop.
You can also register with the Sustainable Schools site and receive updates on professional learning opportunities, grants and funding and new teaching and learning resources.