Sustainable Schools Ed Qld Website:

Key Elements for a Sustainable School

Effective environmental education for sustainability is not just a curriculum issue; it requires the involvement of the whole school community. Environmental education for sustainability pervades all aspects of the school operations, curriculum, teaching and learning, physical surroundings, resource use and relationships with the local community.

The recommended document to capture the schools aspirations to becoming more environmental sustainable is the School Environmental Management Plan (SEMP).

A SEMP sets out the school community’s intentions in regard to environmental education for sustainability and resource management. It represents an agreement to work together across the whole school to become more environmentally sustainable.

The processes to consider in developing a SEMP are:

1. Consult with the school community

Knowing peoples’ concerns and priorities can help guide the first steps towards a more environmentally sustainable school. Use the school council or teachers’ meetings, or student and community forums to develop a picture of the needs and wants of the school community. Get a team together to decide on how to best use this information and start your plan.

2. Learn more about your place

Through curriculum and teaching programs students can investigate their school or local environments. They can research how we use materials and resources. For example: investigating your school’s water use through audits and studying your catchment through stormwater studies for example, lets students transfer these skills to monitoring water use at home.

3. Plan your action

Students and teachers can bring the research information together with the consultation and develop Action Plans. For example: your Waterwise action plan may include changes to the schools plumbing systems, water capture systems, and changing patterns of water use at school and at home.

4. Measure, record and describe

Integrating these steps into teaching programs will give students important skills across all curriculum areas. The SEMP on-line tool, that will be available on the Queensland Sustainable Schools website, will help you by keeping a record of your goals and how you achieved them. Your results can then be communicated to the school, to parents and to the community.

5. Celebrate

Reflecting on the process and the outcome of each of your action plans is an important step. These celebrations will motivate your school community to take on the next challenge and engage others along the way.

Whole School Engagement

  • Acknowledges everyone’s responsibility
  • Includes everyone in the solution by sharing ownership of the processes
  • Enables individual strengths and interests to be utilized
  • Generates motivation and an understanding of common purpose
  • Combats inertia and resistance
  • Is sustainable over time
  • Another example of this approach is seen in best practice of School Behaviour Management Planning where everyone is encouraged to understand their personal responsibility and contribute towards the common good

Community Input into Developing a Sustainable School