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Published:  9 Feb 2022

First meeting of EU working group on sustainability in school education

Representatives from ministries of education and the environment, social partners and stakeholder organisations from more than 30 European countries met this week to discuss how schools, communities, education policies and programmes can best support learning about and for the environment and sustainability. 

Two adults and a child in a sunny vegetable patch

About the first meeting

During the meeting, the Commission gave presentations on the new policy proposal on learning for environmental sustainability, as well as the new European Sustainability Competence Framework.

The group discussed their draft work programme for the period 2022-2023. Based on a survey  to members to gather ideas and input areas of focus are likely to include

  • whole-school approaches to learning for environmental sustainability 
  • teaching and learning, developing sustainability competences 
  • designing effective policies for education for environmental sustainability
  • teacher professional development 
  • digital technologies and learning for sustainability  

On the meeting’s second day, the group discussed their first focus area of engaging the whole school community on sustainability and the environment. Issues raised by participants included

  • how to support effective school self-evaluation on sustainability
  • how to support and foster grassroots and bottom-up innovation at the school level with national/regional policies and programmes
  • the importance of empowering students to participate in sustainability activities in their school and local community
  • the need to support schools to develop partnerships with local players such as parks, forests, farms and local businesses
  • how to ensure political will and adequate resources to support whole-school approaches

Input paper on whole-school approaches

The group also discussed the input paper on whole-school approaches to sustainability prepared by working group consultant Professor Daniella Tilbury. The paper identifies a number of key factors that influence the success of a whole-school approach, including

  • developing a whole-school plan for sustainability, which involves students, staff, parents, partners and community stakeholders
  • formulating a vision for the school which is positive, addresses ‘eco-anxiety’ and is future-oriented
  • ensuring that students have hands-on opportunities and experience to learn about and practice sustainability inside and outside the classroom
  • promoting a shared approach to leadership where teachers and learners are actively involved in designing, planning and taking action on sustainability

Next steps

The working group will now produce a policy guidance brief on the topic of whole-school approaches to sustainability, which will include examples of good practices from European Union and other countries. 

The group will meet on a regular basis over the next five years to share experience and work together on policy guidance and resources. They will identify and share good practices and examples of sustainability in school education. 

The next meeting of the group will occur as part of the World Environmental Education Congress taking place online and in-person in Prague in mid-March.

 

Published:  9 Feb 2022