Headlines: May 21st, 2008

Schools are not doing enough to teach children how to live greener lives according to a report today from Ofsted. The Inspectors say teaching sustainability in schools could bring to life the significance of climate change and show pupils that they have an important part to play in protecting the environment.

The Ofsted report, based on visits to 41 primary and secondary schools, says some are leading the way in encouraging pupils to be green, but most have limited knowledge of sustainability and put little emphasis on teaching or promoting it. ‘Schools and sustainability: A climate for change’ looks at the extent to which the schools in the study make sustainability an integral part of school life and their progress towards the Government’s target for all schools to be sustainable by 2020.

The Inspectors found that lessons on sustainable development were often characterised by good teaching and in the best cases teachers used a range of imaginative activities. In the best schools, too, management responsibilities for sustainable development were clearly understood, and supported through training. The report also found that primary schools are more successful than secondary schools in promoting sustainability, especially in using their grounds as a learning resource.

The large majority of schools inspected, the report says, revealed a lack of awareness of sustainable development and of national and local government policies for the area. Very few teachers were aware of the ‘Sustainable Schools’ programme and sustainable development was seen as a peripheral issue.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said, it was encouraging that some schools were making sustainability part of school life. She added, “The best schools are also investing in their own long-term sustainability and making their buildings more environmentally friendly. However, too often sustainability is a peripheral issue. More schools need to make sure it is key feature of their development plans.”