Taking Learning Outside: A Sustainable School

The Problem

At the start of the Changemaker program, Carmel found it unacceptable that teachers are required to teach 21st Century learners without the adequate modelling, and as a result, every school reinvents the wheel. She believed in a school that models STEAM and sustainability using a cross-curricular focus to educate the whole community.

“Our school grounds present more of a problem than an opportunity.”

Carmel saw huge potential in the use of her school ground to teach STEM and sustainability for the learners at her primary school.

Carmel’s Solution

She decided to reevaluate her school’s grounds so that they could be developed into an optimal teaching resource for both students and the wider community.

Carmel worked hard and won her school a grant from their local council for an environmental engineer to assess her school’s grounds and to write a comprehensive report as a basis for review of the school’s Environmental Management Plan.

In Term One, Carmel met with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of her community around developing a Reconciliation Action Plan, in which the concept of Country and the use of the school grounds are integral. Aboriginal students from Carmel’s school took their ideas about the Reconciliation Action Plan to their school council. In the same term, Carmel presented at Staff Development Day about the new History and Geography syllabus in NSW and all stage groups were given packs with images and stimulus about the use of land as a resource for using with their classes.

In Term Two, the school’s Environmental Management Plan and Reconciliation Action Plan were written and delivered to Student Parliament during Reconciliation Week. She ran some STEM activities in the school grounds.

In Term Three, with the Future Earth focus for Science Week, Carmel was able to amp up the Science learning at her primary school!

Her principal has been really supportive, especially after a trip to Finland where she saw how Finnish children experience learning everywhere at school.  

Carmel’s Impact

All Year 3-6 students (500 kids!) have had an opportunity to share their ideas about the transformation of their school grounds to a school where learning happens both inside and outside the classroom.

She’s garnered community support, and one parent who everyone thought a little tricky has become a great ally, a source of inspiration and a real support.

Further, as a result of Carmel’s work, her school successfully won a Community Engagement grant which is paying for experts to come to her school to run additional projects on their grounds!

Like the idea?

Carmel would love your support for Taking Learning Outside, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and she’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where she can. Shoot an email to maddie@educationchangemakers.com if you want to get in touch with Carmel and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer her on in the comments below as well.

#WhatChangeLooksLike #ECStories #EduChange

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