Dec 1, 2010
Bishop Hill in Education, Greens

There was quite a lot of interest in the quote by a teacher that I posted up yesterday. On a similar theme, here is something I've been sitting on for a while.

The Eco-schools movement is, as the name suggests, an environmental programme for children. The idea appears to be to have a green spin to as much of the curriculum as possible, but also getting children to raise money for green charities and to involve their families in green campaigning.

As schools develop their eco-programme, they rise through bronze and silver awards, arriving ultimately at the highest level of eco-school award, the Green Flag. To reach this level, greenery needs to be pervasive across the curriculum.

Green Flag

This looks rather scary, but in fact if you look at the checklist for the awards it looks even worse. Schools are expected to complete this checklist annually, and it lists steps varying from the unexceptionable - Are windows and doors properly insulated and draught-free?- to the eyebrow-raising- Are the school grounds free of herbicides and pesticides? - to the downright terrifying - Does the school have an ethos of 'respecting and caring for other living things'? Have pupils made the link between Fair Trade and Environmental Protection? Are pupils aware of the importance of the conservation worldwide of natural habitats, resources and cultures? Does the school deliver programmes supporting 'sustainable communities'? Is the school taking part in the UNICEF 'Rights Respecting Schools' initiative? Have pupils investigated the potential impact of Climate Change on the lives of people across the globe? Is the school a 'Fair Trade School'? Has the school supported any global environmental charities? Are Eco-Schools activities included in the School Improvement/Development Plan? Does the school invite the local community to participate in its Eco-Schools activities, such as Eco 'Days of Action'? Are Eco-Schools activities integrated into the school curriculum?

That last bit is quite interesting. As the notes on the Green Flag award make clear, eco-activities are intended to be widespread in the curriculum and the Eco-schools Scotland website has curriculum maps showing how this can be achieved. This again looks rather scary, with the objectives of the curriculum pushed aside in favour of delivering the rather Maoist-sounding "Seven Objectives" of the Eco-schools programme. Science lessons, for example, will look at issues such as biodiversity ("I can debate the moral and ethical issues associated with some controversial biological procedures"), with a suggested focus on GM crops and cloning. Geography is a thing of the past in Scotland, with the subject now subsumed into the rather nebulous area of "People, Place and Environment". Here, one suggestion is that the objective might be "Having evaluated the role of agriculture in the production of food and raw material, I can draw reasoned conclusions about the environmental impacts and sustainability."

You get the idea. Take a look at the curriculum maps. They are amazing. Level 1, 2, 3, 4.

Oh yes, in Scotland the vast majority of schools are eco-schools.


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