Guide yourself through
This Guide Yourself package is designed for those in the Learning and Skills Sector who wish to take some time to gain an in-depth understanding of Teaching and Learning for sustainable development. It is divided into four sections which can be read as a whole or separately.
Although it is aimed at educators at all levels within the FE system it might be of particular use to curriculum and programme leaders.
- Current Practice – Management Audit Tool
- Current Practice - Audit Tool
- Changing thinking and approach
This guidance is based upon a whole institutional approach to embedding sustainable development into teaching and learning practice. Each of the priority actions in the LSC Strategy for Sustainable Development are included:
- education for sustainable development
- learning materials
- links and partnerships
- healthy college programme
The objective is to provide practical tools, advice and guidance to help you to integrate sustainable development in your organisation's teaching and learning – making sure that is included within generic and specialist curriculum areas, as well as informal learning and giving all learners a level of sustainable development knowledge and awareness that is appropriate to their individual circumstances. The emphasis is to help you move towards and adopt a more holistic, whole institutional approach that will make your organisation successful in fully including sustainable development in your teaching and learning and throughout your organisation.
Sustainable Development Skills and Education for Sustainable
ESD has an important role to play in helping people to understand and accept the need for significant changes to the way the country operates socially and economically, changes needed to ensure a sustainable future for everyone. It can also make an important contribution in helping people to understand and agree to make the kinds of behavioural changes necessary to make sustainability work. Informed choices can only be made by people who understand the problems and dilemmas and who know the cost of whichever course of action is decided upon.
Skills in England 2007 is the LSC’s annual skills assessment, providing an up-to-date assessment of the skills arena and highlighting the key skills issues facing businesses in England which the LSC and its partners will have to address. It identifies sustainable development as one of the new challenges following the publication of the Stern Review in 2006.
Skills and education for sustainable development is needed both in the holistic management of an FE provider's organisation and also in the links it has with employers and businesses. It is also important to embed sustainable development into the organisation's curriculum, teaching and learning practices.
Education for sustainable development mirrors the drive for education of high quality, demonstrating characteristics such as:
- Interdisciplinary and holistic: learning for sustainable development embedded in the whole curriculum, not as a separate subject.
- Values-driven: sharing the values and principles underpinning sustainable development.
- Critical thinking and problem solving: leading to confidence in addressing the dilemmas and challenges of sustainable development.
- Multi-method: word, art, drama, debate, experience, and different pedagogies which model the processes.
- Participatory decision-making: learners participate in decisions on how they are to learn.
- Locally relevant: addressing local as well as global issues, and using the language(s) that learners most commonly use.
The former Department for Education and Skills published the Sustainable Development Action Plan for Education and Skills. It set out an ambitious learning agenda for providers to operate in a more environmentally sustainable way and to teach it as well.
It sees an important leading role for the FE system in furthering sustainable development in a range of vocational specialisms, mainly because the sector places strong emphasis upon developing excellent vocational provision that focuses on meeting the skills needs of employers.
The plan is now being taken forward by the Department for
Children, Schools and Families and the important role of the FE
system in sustainable development has recently been given further
impetus in the Leitch
“Sustainable development – meeting the needs of present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs – is a defining challenge of the twenty-first century. If the nation is to play its full part in challenging global poverty and combating environmental problems like climate change it is imperative that everyone in this country develops the skills of sustainable living and working. That means placing sustainable development at the heart of skills provision, ensuring that it is a fundamental goal of our economic and social progress.”
The LSC’s Strategy for Sustainable Development - From Here to Sustainability also makes a strong case for ESD. It stresses ‘the importance of all learners acquiring sustainable development skills – skills that will equip them to lead their lives and work in a sustainable way and to influence others to do the same’. The LSC identifies three ways in which the FE system can contribute to sustainable development:
- Through its management of resources
- Through the learning opportunities it delivers
- Through its engagement with communities
The strategy has further identified a number of priority action areas for implementing change in teaching, learning and the curriculum in relation to sustainable development:
- Education for sustainable development: promote and encourage acceptance and delivery within learning programmes of the Sustainable Development Education Panel’s key concepts for education for sustainable development
- Learning materials: consider adopting and using currently available sustainable development learning materials and develop appropriate sustainable development programmes and modules
- Whole-institution approach: implement a whole-institution approach to sustainable development, taking account of both institution-based provision and virtual learning environments, and both informal and formal learning approaches
- Links and partnerships: develop links between providers and industry and between pre- and post-16 education and learning providers (including higher education), also considering European and international partnerships
- Healthy college programme: encourage development and implementation of healthy college programmes
Skill Demands of Individuals and Learners
It is also evident that individuals are becoming more aware of their social, environmental and economic impacts and becoming more proactive in managing them. The Future Leaders Survey provides a good insight into learner attitudes to sustainability. The survey found that many young people find it important to acquire the knowledge and skills for sustainable development, for them it is an important factor for considering a choice of college or university. It also revealed that many are conscious of their individual impacts and are subsequently taking action, for example:
- Buying locally and avoiding larger supermarket chains
- Using more sustainable modes of transport
- Joining a third world development charity
Furthermore, it is apparent that students are becoming demanding to have sustainable development incorporated into their courses. The survey revealed that sustainable development is particularly important for those applying for architecture, building and planning (74% regarding it as important or very important), social studies (64%), education (63%) and engineering (61%) courses. Applicants for courses in social sciences, education, architecture, building and planning are those most likely to regard a university or college's track record on sustainable development issues to be important. Veterinary and agriculture applicants and applicants for courses in creative arts and design, social sciences and social studies are those most likely to be driven by environmental concerns when making career or employment choices.
A high proportion of respondents to a recent survey said they were embedding concepts or approaches to sustainable development into existing courses and programmes. A rather more mixed picture emerged from the organisations visited. However, in a few instances, the process of integration was clearly underway. For example, in some specialist land-based colleges, the emphasis on environmental sustainability through countryside management courses, agriculture and horticulture programmes and some construction programmes was clearly evident in course handbooks, learning materials and library resources more generally. However, even here the wider concept on which the sustainability agenda is based was less evident. There were generally fewer examples of taking a wider and interdisciplinary approach to sustainable development in the organisations visited. Some colleges are addressing the agenda through Citizenship Programmes, group tutorial work, and Personal and Social Development programmes. One college had used the NCFE awarding body programme as a cross-college approach and had found the approaches useful, but as a level 1&2 award generally less applicable for high-level provision.
Whilst there are a wealth of sustainable development related strategies in regions (such as regional energy strategies) and investment opportunities (such as the FE Capital Investment Programme), building sustainable development skills (whether embedded or discrete) into training, education and in turn, all professions remains a significant challenge (and opportunity) for the FE system.
The absence of higher-level generic sustainable development provision is a barrier to wider adoption in most FE providers. This is compounded by the fact that curriculum reform has been comparatively slow in this area for a number of reasons, not least because sustainable development is not featuring prominently within more National Occupational Standards. Making sustainable development an underpinning principle of all aspects of its work must be shared goal for the FE system as a whole. But there is still much that providers and individual teachers can do to make a difference
|Download Guide Yourself Through Teaching and Learning (149Kb)|