Department of Education

Sustainable Schools WA

Sustainable Schools WA

Coolbinia Primary


Context

Purpose

To showcase a whole school/whole systems approach to Education for Sustainability (EfS), linking the various components of the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative WA (AuSSI-WA) framework in the context of an inspiring, overarching vision for the school community.

Curriculum links

General Capabilities

  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Ethical understanding
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy

Cross Curriculum Priorities

  • Sustainability
  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
  • Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia

Learning Areas

  • Science
  • Civics and citizenship

Background

Coolbinia Primary School has a long history of environmental stewardship including extensive native seedling cultivation in school greenhouses and tree planting in the 1980s. In 2008, the school community committed to becoming a ‘carbon positive’ school. The school joined the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative in 2009 and has been an active member since, developing policies and implementing annual sustainability action plans.

In 2011, the school adopted a ‘10 Tonne Plan’ which was a whole school community sustainability initiative that embedded a cross curriculum and whole systems thinking approach. The aim of the 10 Tonne Plan was to facilitate effective action within the school community to create a more environmentally sustainable and socially just world, with the specific goal of reducing emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere by 10 tonnes.

Actions included using solar energy, tree planting, recycling, worm farming, composting and walking and/or riding to school. These actions were acknowledged by the distribution of boyas, a local currency. Boyas were traded, saved or used in particular contexts, both in the school environment (e.g. fetes/stalls) and the wider community (e.g. Hulbert Street Fiesta in Fremantle).

Students using Boyas
Students using Boyas

The 10 tonne goal of the 2011 plan was achieved, so the whole school community (students, staff, parents, volunteers, partners) was consulted to assess implementation strengths and weaknesses and determine the nature and size of the 2012 plan. Feedback led to the development of a ‘50 Tonne Plan’ for 2012 and implementation of this plan is underway.

Sustainability action planning

The school’s Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) is informed by utilising AuSSI-WA’s three core review, planning and evaluation tools:

  1. Key Elements Rubrics (KER)
  2. Ecological Footprint*
  3. Social Handprint*

* Copies of these can be found on the AuSSI-WA website in the section showcasing Sustainability Action Plans: www.det.wa.edu.au/sustainableschools.

Sustainability actions highlight significant progress in all three sections of the KER: Leadership, Teaching and Learning, and Community. Assessment on the KER was provided by all stakeholders – students, staff, parents, volunteers and partners.

Achievements in Leadership (visioning, governance and planning) are especially notable and a significant driver for progress in other elements within the Teaching and Learning and Community rubrics, all of which contribute to a successful whole school/system approach.

The main AuSSI-WA Alliance links and other connections/partnerships were as follows:

  • Waste Wise Schools: http://education.dec.wa.gov.au/waste-wise.html
  • Sustainable Energy Association of Australia: http://www.seaaus.com.au/
  • Maia Maia Emissions Reduction Currency System: http://www.maiamaia.org/
  • Solar Sister: http://www.solarsister.org/
  • TravelSmart: http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/activetransport/24610.asp
  • Waterwise Schools: http://www.watercorporation.com.au/
  • Perth Zoo - http://www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au/
  • Australian Association for Environmental Education WA: http://www.aaeewa.org.au/

Evaluation

Qualitative and quantitative methods were utilised to evaluate the 10 Tonne Plan initiative. Qualitative evidence was provided by the KERs, surveys, field notes and anecdotal feedback. Quantitative data (e.g. waste statistics) was collected to provide evidence related to the various actions (e.g. tonnes of paper/cardboard recycled; kilograms of food scraps/lawn clippings composted). In addition, a joint research project between Murdoch University and the school was undertaken in 2011-2012 to assess the outcomes of the 10 Tonne Plan. This project involved surveys and interviews of all stakeholders.

10 Tonne Plan – Gardening Outcomes Poster
10 Tonne Plan – Gardening Outcomes Poster
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Coolbinia Primary
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