Dear Concerned Parent,
Thank you for taking the time to write and express your concerns regarding the purpose and content of the school’s Education for Sustainability curriculum programs. We appreciate your interest in the education of your child. The aim of the school is to provide each student with access to a balanced education that will provide them the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding that will enable them to become active and informed citizens. We believe that integrating concepts associated with Education for Sustainability as part of the whole school curriculum will significantly contribute to the achievement of this goal.
The framework that guides the school’s Education for Sustainability curriculum programs is underpinned two key education documents. Firstly, the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs [MCEETYA], 2008) document outlines a key goal for students is to become active and informed citizens at a local and global level in working toward the sustainability of natural and social environments. The significance of sustainability is recognised in the cross-curriculum priorities embedded within all learning areas of the Australian Curriculum documents (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014). Our school envisages that sustainability education will enable students to develop the skills, values, knowledge and world views that will empower them to protect and create a socially, environmentally, culturally and economically just world (ACARA, 2014).
The school recognises that sustainability education is a futures-orientated concept that shares an interconnection with the learning areas of Geography and Civics and Citizenship. Reynolds (2012) asserts that fundamental human rights and social justice are essential in sustaining and improving social and natural environments. Students begin to understand their rights and responsibilities as citizens in a democratic society in making decisions relevant to environmental sustainability (Tudball, 2010). The Australian Curriculum: Geography (ACARA, 2014b) identifies sustainability as a concept integral to understanding the processes leading to unsustainability, how sustainability can be achieved and the development of world views involving stewardship. In understanding the concept of global interdependence, our school is endeavouring to develop active and informed citizens that value empathy, social justice and action, responsibility and equity (Tudball & Gordon, 2014). Our school identifies the importance of students being able to critically analyse issues, recognise multiple viewpoints and values, effectively communicate to make well-reasoned debates when seeking to enact change within the context of either local, national or global issues Marsh (2005).
In conclusion, the school acknowledges that educational stakeholders that include parents, teachers, schools and policy-makers have varying views on the concept of sustainability. However, the school believes that it has adopted a balanced framework for teaching Education for Sustainability that encompasses environmental, economic, social, cultural and political elements of sustainable development (Cutter-Mackenzie & Hoepper, 2014). The students are effectively engaging with the concept of Education for Sustainability within real-life contexts through involvement in management of the school’s resources and facilities, and the development of partnerships between the school and the community (Cutter-Mackenzie & Hoepper, 2014). Overall, our aim is for the students to develop the skills, knowledge and values to become active and informed citizens through engaging in a whole school culture of sustainability.
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2014), The Australian Curriculum: Cross-curriculum priorities. Sustainability. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/CrossCurriculumPriorities/Sustainability
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2014b). The Australian Curriculum: Geography: Concepts for developing geographical understanding. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanitiesandsocialsciences/geography/concepts-for-developing-geographical-understanding
Cutter-Mackenzie, A. & Hoepper, B. (2014). Teaching for active and informed citizenship. In R. Gilbert & B. Hoepper (Eds.). Teaching humanities and social sciences: history, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th Ed.) (pp. 390-418). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.
Education for Sustainability. [Image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.earthtimes.org/encyclopaedia/environmental-issues/environmental-business/
Marsh, C. (2005). Studies of society and environment (4th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.
Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETY). (2008) Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Retrieved from: http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/verve/_resources/National_Declaration_on_the_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf
Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching history, geography & SOSE in the primary school (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press
Tudball, L. (2010). Putting civics and citizenship education back on the education agenda: responding to global imperatives and learning from international research. Social Educator, 28(3), 17-24.
Tudball, L. & Gordon, K. (2014). Teaching for active and informed citizenship. In R. Gilbert & B. Hoepper (Eds.). Teaching humanities and social sciences: history, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th Ed.) (pp. 297-320). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.