Sustainable Education

This project aims to collect ideas and actions on all aspects of sustainable education, from mainstream education through to the best ways of educating children and teenagers in unconventional communities.

You are here

by Christopher Etchells
Created on 28 Nov 2020
  • How can we best educate children and teenagers for a sustainable future?
  • What knowledge and skills do they need to develop?
  • What is the best way to go about this?
  • What are people already doing?
  • What resources exist?
  • How can we move mainstream education onto a more sustainable footing?
  • How can children and teenagers best be educated in unconventional settings? What knowledge and skills do they need to learn over and above what they already learn by being part of their communities?
  • + other questions

This project aims to bring people together to share and collect ideas, theories and practices to answer these and other questions around the topic of sustainable education.





Sat, 11/28/2020

Sustainable Education in UK Mainstream Schools


To my mind, mainstream school at present has not caught up with the urgency of the ecological emergency.

UK mainstream primary teacher Helen writes:

I enjoyed your article and am really interested in following your project in Campfire.

As a primary teacher I'm trying to prepare the children I teach for a more sustainable future.

I taught  abroad for a number of years. In Kazakhstan , in a Buddhist school and later in the Middle East.

At the moment I’m doing supply work which means I’m going into a number of different schools and setups, teaching children key stage 1 and 2 in West Sussex.

Many schools in Sussex are lucky enough to have  forest areas and gardens but time is so limited  to be able to access these areas using them to their full potential. Staff are not always trained,  they are overworked and preoccupied with paperwork. Local enthusiastic forest school volunteers sometimes come in to support the school but this is often inconsistent and irregular.

I don’t feel that headteachers are always fully able to develop the potential of environmental and outside learning. Cutbacks in teaching assistants also doesn’t help when risk assessments require high child/adult ratios outdoors.

It’s a huge pity and I’m still trying to work out how best to change things more radically.

I now have two grandchildren myself and am actively encouraging them to care and love the natural world and prepare them for a rather uncertain and daunting future.

Many  teachers like me are promoting  conservation and  eco-education as and when we can in the curriculum with the help of storytelling and books like , “The Lost words“ .

It’s  also possible to use Science and Geography lessons to promote investigative learning in this field.

I think the main thing for teachers is  primarily to foster a love for nature, enjoyment, life and develop lost  practical skills . Also develop children’s imaginations from first hand physical experiences. Linking events with parents and involving parents I think will become increasingly important in the future. Community Gardens linked with schools and local experts would help?  Children are naturally more open and interested in their world, more so than many adults ! 

To my mind, mainstream school at present has not caught up with the urgency of the ecological emergency. The curriculum needs to change and become more community based instead of being 'results and target driven.' I think now it’s possible to study Botany at O level but this is a new and slow development. We also need, to my mind, to promote traditional skills such as metal work, carpentry, gardening skills and permaculture from a very early age.

My experience is that teachers are trying their best without much support or training in this field. 

I hope I don’t sound pessimistic. Your article made me feel optimistic and more hopeful..I’m still thinking about this ! 

Warm wishes