Why is the program so imperative to changing the way educators approach sustainability? In my previous article for FE News, I explained how sustainability shouldn’t be purely reserved for science and geography learners. It must be integrated into every subject and organization.
But with a post-pandemic sector that is already exhausted with reports of the highest number of vacancies in the sector recorded in two decades, educators told us that the challenge they face in improving their education provision sustainable is tangible. The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has recognized that there is a gap in support for education service providers. We’ve developed new resources to help educators quickly and effectively expand the content of their sustainability education, without changing the qualifications they use.
Groundbreaking ETF Resources
After a period of extensive research – including panel discussions and direct feedback from educators, learners and partners – we have developed three resources that aim to help EF and training providers reform their programs. These resources are: a subject specialization guide, a teaching sustainability tool, and a curriculum mapping tool.
Subject Specialization Guide
This guide was created for educators, trainers and practitioners to draw parallels between their field and sustainable development. In longitudinal sustainability skills research undertaken by SOS-UK, learners say they do not want to learn about sustainability and their topic separately, but rather want to see sustainability integrated into existing course content.
This guide encourages educators to explore sustainability content that could be incorporated into their teaching and learning practice, so that they can contextualize sustainability in their subject in a timely, relevant and practical way. From hairdressing to pet care, this guide offers prompts and suggestions for sustainability topics related to the subject area so that the content is relevant to the main topic.
Of course, there is no set framework for sustainable practice, nor is this a definitive list. The guide is intended to provide inspiration and ideas, which educators can expand and develop. It contains thematic prompts, case studies and directions to specialist resources. We are committed to keeping it updated as we discover new information and resources, and receive feedback from practitioners and providers across the country.
Sustainability Teaching Tool
Research shows that ESD is best delivered when it is clear that sustainability is linked to the main subject area – embedded and contextualized in one topic rather than presented as a separate, stand-alone topic.
However, as the ETF report on leadership for ESD in the FE curriculum indicates, less than 1 in 200 learners in the FE and training sector take a course with explicit ESD content. Given the volume of qualifications used by the sector, curriculum reform across the system will take time.
Despite this, many providers want to provide opportunities to develop learners’ expertise in sustainability and are looking for shorter-term solutions. These include stand-alone qualifications, which can often be offered more quickly to learners as longer-term systemic change is underway to integrate ESD into the curriculum landscape. Providers are also looking to supplement their existing qualifications with something that enhances their ESD offering. Many add explicit sustainability qualifications to their portfolio – to complement other courses to ensure learners have access to quality ESD. At the same time, many certification organizations are developing new sustainability qualifications.
The Sustainability Teaching Tool is essentially a list of available qualifications whose main theme is sustainability. This is to help educators, program managers and managers in the FE and training sector to see what qualifications are available to them and to research this data to find the right courses for them and their learners. . New courses and qualifications are constantly being developed by the awarding organisations, so we will review them twice a year to ensure they are up to date.
Map Curriculum Tool
The ETF has developed the Map the Curriculum tool to provide a baseline for the provision of ESD in a provider’s curriculum. The tool will help providers collect and analyze their own data, particularly on where they currently include sustainability topics and skills in their offering, where there might be gaps and how they might improve. ‘to improve. We want to encourage providers to share good practices and identify other opportunities to integrate ESD into their offer.
From our research, we understood that vendors did not have a way to measure their ESD delivery or report on progress, so we included this feature in the tool. This could be used at an institution-wide, departmental or course level, depending on who is using the tool. Enough flexibility is built in to make the tool useful for individuals as well as teams and organizations.
Use these resources
The ETF advocates whole-school approaches, ensuring that all learners become sustainability learners. The main objective of organizations in the FE and training sector is to provide education and training. To achieve the maximum impact with their sustainability work, it is essential to focus on the program.
Many providers in the education and training sector can use any or all of these resources as they see fit – there is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving ESD. This is, we hope, just the beginning in terms of creating resources and supports that help providers strengthen ESD in the curriculum. They were designed to provide enough support and inspiration for educators to shape their own resources for the future.
If you have an experience integrating ESD into your program that you would like to share, or need help with your ESD work, please contact us.
By Charlotte Bonner, National Education for Sustainable Development Officer at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF)
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