CERES embeds sustainability education into new Victorian Schools

Environmental education lies at the heart of CERES. Our education team is made up of a dedicated and expert team of over 70 educators that deliver a range of inspiring programs for early childhood centres, schools, tertiary institutions, adult groups and individuals.

CERES Education (Outreach) delivers ResourceSmart Schools in over 280 schools and early childhood centres in Melbourne to embed sustainability into their systems, curriculum and the wider community. CERES helped create ResourceSmart Schools and has continued to develop and deliver this award-winning initiative for over 15 years. Now a Victorian Government owned program and administered by Sustainability Victoria, ResourceSmart Schools assists schools and early learning centres to make substantive reductions in resource use, and educate students, staff and the community to contribute to more sustainable patterns of living and take positive action on climate change.

CERES has been chosen as a Sustainability Partner for the delivery of 15 new schools in the New Schools PPP Project – the largest new school building project in Victoria. Each school will receive a customised ResourceSmart School education program and development and implementation of a School Environment Management Plan (SEMP) over 5 years. This project duration will enable CERES to embed sustainability education over a significant period and see a tangible impact on the whole school, including the wider community.

CERES’ delivery of sustainability education will be supported and enhanced by the new schools’ design which is built on strong Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) principles. The school buildings and grounds will be utilised by the school as an inspirational, real life teaching and learning platform, optimising sustainability education.

The New Schools PPP Project embraces the following guiding principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development:

  • Minimise the use of energy and water and generation of waste, both in the construction and operation of facilities
  • Consider whole-of-life costs when selecting design options
  • Consider the effects of the indoor environment on staff and student health and wellbeing, as well as student learning
  • Minimise the impact on the local and global environment
  • Include long term planning for the projected effects of climate change
  • Use facilities as a learning resource for environmental education for sustainability

In using the school’s buildings and landscape as a resource for learning about sustainability, students will develop skills and knowledge for understanding sustainable management of natural resources and real-world systems through activities such as; measuring and monitoring energy use, water and waste management; and increasing biodiversity and understanding of living systems through developing habitat gardens and growing food.

Each school will start with the ResourceSmart Schools Core Module as the foundation and move through further modules of Energy, Waste, Water, and Biodiversity to suit each school’s choice.

The educational services delivered will highlight the aspects of each school’s particular design and environment and train the teachers to utilise pedagogical tools connected to the ResourceSmart School modules.

CERES will provide professional development and training to teaching and non-teaching staff to further develop their knowledge and skills for implementing sustainable actions and behavior change in their schools. This will support the school’s learning and teaching programs for embedding sustainability concepts and their application into the school curriculum.

A School Environment Management Plan (SEMP) will help each school to embed sustainability into everything they do and take action to minimise waste, save energy and water, promote biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions against targets. The SEMP provides schools with a structured framework, internal monitoring, and a road map for the direction of the school’s sustainability programs and sustainable management of the school’s resource use.

This combined delivery approach to schools will;

  • Support principals, teaching and non-teaching staff, and students with the knowledge and skills to achieve ongoing efficiencies in resource use, and maximise the schools’ potential on the journey to becoming a 5Star ResourceSmart School.
  • Ensure that professional development supports a school with resources and activities for embedding the cross-curriculum priority of Sustainability into learning and teaching programs.
  • Alleviate the workload of Principals, teaching and non-teaching staff through provision of this support.
  • Assist schools to demonstrate measurable reductions in energy and water use, waste outputs and improvements in biodiversity.
  • Empower schools to carry out sustainability programs both within their school and into the wider community.
  • Recognise and celebrate schools for their achievements and encourage them to lead other schools participating in the initiative.

During the delivery of the environmental education services schools will be supported to develop and implement activities such as:

  • Developing a whole school plan for biodiversity, and energy, waste, and water use
  • Auditing the school’s resource use for energy, waste, and water and the habitat quality assessment score for biodiversity to monitor and improve in these areas;
  • Ecologically enhancing water sensitive urban design, including extensive native planting, market gardens, specialist landscaping and rainwater swale retention systems;
  • Developing a whole school culture for reducing waste, litter and energy through activities such as ‘Nude Food’;
  • Researching and planning to optimise renewable energy sources from solar generation and where applicable, wind;
  • Ensuring there is student leadership across multiple years to provide ongoing classroom and peer teaching applications of sustainability;
  • Increasing planting around North and West facing windows to provide passive shading design; and
  • Monitoring water use in urinals, toilets and tapware.

The Project outcomes in the schools will be demonstrated through:

  • measuring and monitoring energy use, water and waste management, and increase in biodiversity;
  • integration of sustainability in each school’s curriculum;
  • potential certification in ResourceSmart Schools modules and stars;
  • greenhouse gas emission reduction; and
  • individual and collective behaviour change contributing to more sustainable patterns of living and positive action taken on climate change

CERES delivery of environmental education will be delivered to a total of 12 schools:
8 Tranche 1 Schools to open for Term 1, 2017:

  • Casey Central East Primary School (Cranbourne North)
  • Cranbourne South West Primary School (Cranbourne West)
  • Heather Grove Primary School (Clyde North)
  • Epping North Primary School (Epping North)
  • Mernda Central Prep – (Prep- to Year 9 component)
  • Mernda South Primary School (Mernda)
  • Pakenham South West Primary School (Pakenham)
  • Point Cook South Prep – Year 9 School (Point Cook)

4 Tranche 2 Schools to open for Term 1, 2018:

  • Armstrong Creek Education Precinct (Armstrong Creek) – including Armstrong Creek Special School and Armstrong Creek Primary School. Noting, separate Services will be provided for each of the Special and Primary Schools at Armstrong Creek);
  • Mernda Central (Year 10-12 component) Noting, separate Services will be provided for Mernda Central (Year 10-12) and Mernda Central (Prep to Year 9 component);
  • Bannockburn Prep – Year 12 School (Bannockburn) – including primary and secondary school components
  • North Geelong Special Developmental School (Hamlyn Heights)
  • Torquay North Primary School (Torquay North)

By the end of Year 5 of a school’s operation, it is expected schools will be:

  • actively using the ResourceSmart online system with multiple users
  • progressing through certification of modules/stars with 4 or 5Star status highly likely
  • continuing to use the SEMP to implement and sustain management of resource use and sustainability related learning and teaching outcomes at each school.
  • meeting and maintaining benchmark targets to demonstrate ongoing greenhouse gas emission reductions from their baseline year
  • reporting school sustainability achievements including financial savings on a yearly basis
  • demonstrating ongoing leadership in their school, the wider community and to other schools

CERES is excited to be working with the New Schools PPP Project and aspires for each school to be on their way to becoming a 5Star ResourceSmart Schools and contributing to more sustainable patterns of living and taking positive action on climate change.

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