Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 23

Memorandum from the Council for Environmental Education

UK PREPARATIONS FOR THE WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

  The Council for Environmental Education (CEE) is a national umbrella body representing eighty national organisations committed to environmental and sustainable development education. CEE is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Committee's task by providing evidence and comments relating to the status of education within the UK's submission.

THE ROLE OF EDUCATION AND LEARNING

  The term education is used here to represent both formal education (schools, post-16/FE/HE) and non-formal education (youth work, community, workplace, media, leisure etc). CEE believes that:

    —  education has a crucial and unique role to play in helping us come to understandings about what sustainable development (SD) is, and how we might develop and recognise it;

    —  the learning that we shall need in the UK in order to do this will need to be developed and shared across sectors;

    —  we all have important parts to play (individually, in the family, socially and in the workplace) in bringing such learning (and hence SD) about.

  This is consistent with the views of Agenda 21 (Chapter 36 on Promoting Education, Public Awareness and Training), and the UK Government's Sustainable Development Education Panel.

  The Chairman's Paper of the Second PrepCom (11th February 2002) notes that "it has been widely recognised that . . . there is still a major gap in the implementation of Agenda 21". CEE believes that education should have high status within the UK submission because:

    —  Education has a significant role to play in the implementation of sustainable development.

    —  Progress on educational goals set at Rio (Agenda 21, Chapter 36) needs to be reported.

    —  UK has made substantial progress at national policy and strategic levels in this field.

    —  WSSD represents a significant opportunity to set further, strategic goals.

  CEE has raised with DEFRA and DfES the question of how the role of education, and the progress made in UK, might feature within the UK submission. The position remains unclear. Government does not appear to be reporting on progress against education targets set at Rio.

UK ACTION ON EDUCATION SINCE RIO

  A significant range of activities responding to Agenda 21, Chapter 36, have been initiated by Central Government, Local Authorities, NGOs, and others. Exemplars relating to policy, programmes and strategy are provided below.

EXEMPLARS WITHIN KEY EDUCATION SECTORS

1.  Formal Education Sector

  Key Stakeholders: Government, Local authorities, Schools

  Agenda set by Agenda 21 (Chapter 36): Follow the Framework for Action of the Jomtien Conference. Achieve environmental and development awareness in all sectors of society as soon as possible. Integrate environment and development into education at all levels. Set up national advisory environmental education coordinating bodies. Assist schools in designing environmental activity work plans. Enable pre-service and in-service training for teachers. Promote proven teaching methods, and the development of innovative teaching methods.

EXEMPLAR ACTIVITIES

    —  DoE published The world in our hands, a report on environmental awareness education and training, recommending better Whitehall co-ordination and an external panel.

    —  DfEE and DoE published Taking environmental education into the 21st century, its strategy for environmental education in England.

    —  The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority's Teaching environmental matters through the National Curriculum provided exemplars of school and field work, 1996.

    —  DfEE published Schools environmental assessment method (SEAM), 1996.

    —  Setting up the Government's Sustainable Development Education Panel (SDEP), 1998.

    —  DfID set up Development Awareness Working Group to advise on DfID's Communications, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) policy, 1998.

    —  SDEP report to DfEE/QCA on Education for sustainable development in the schools sector, 1998.

    —  CEE's checklists for inspectors and schools on inspecting the environmental dimension, supported by Ofsted,1998-99.

    —  Establishing Curriculum 2000, adding ESD to National Curriculum aims (without prescribing what schools should do, or specifying learning outcomes), 1999.

    —  Explaining in eight of 12 National Curriculum subject booklets how ESD could be promoted, with specificity in geography, science and citizenship, 1999.

    —  Reducing demands of the National Curriculum, freeing up time for schools to focus on ESD if they wish or are able.

    —  Creating additional opportunities for ESD through the introduction of citizenship education.

    —  Stressing the importance to ESD of literacy, numeracy and ICT, and of participation and school attendance.

    —  Providing on-line support by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority for teachers/schools in relation to ESD, 2001.

    —  DfES's Developing a global dimension in the school curriculum providing guidance for head teachers, governors and local authorities, 2001.

    —  Protecting school playing fields through the School Standards and Framework Act, 1998.

    —  Promoting safe travel to schools linking school, community and ESD issues; establishment of School Travel Advisory Group (STAG).

    —  DfES Curriculum Division appointing adviser on ESD, 2001.

    —  DfES exploring what face-to-face support for schools might best support ESD, 2001-02.

    —  Continuing availability of specialist education advisers and support services (but only in some LEAs).

2.  POST-16, FE & HE SECTOR

  Key Stakeholders: Government, FE/HE institutions, Business

  Agenda set by Agenda 21(Chapter 36): Develop networks. Develop cross-disciplinary courses. Build partnerships with business, with other stakeholders, and internationally. Establish national and/or regional centres of excellence in research and education. Promote public awareness building. Identify workforce training needs and assess measures taken to meet them. Encourage professional associations to review codes of practice. Develop national and regional environmental labour market information systems.

EXEMPLAR ACTIVITIES

    —  Establishing the Committee on Environmental Education in Further and Higher Education (Chair: Peter Toyne) and commissioning its report, Environmental responsibility: an agenda for further and higher education, 1993.

    —  Commissioning a review of the Toyne committee report, 1996.

    —  Funding the CEE/WWF/DoE research project and resulting series, Taking Responsibility in HE.

    —  Funding the Higher Education 21 Project to promote examples of best sustainable practice in HE, 1997-99.

    —  ESRC funded Global Environmental Change programme (Agenda 21, Chapter 37 on mechanisms for capacity-building).

    —  Piloting (Hefce) environmental management projects.

    —  SDEP and Further Education Development Agency encouraging SD in FE through publication of Towards sustainability: a guide for colleges, 1999.

    —  Establishing (Hefce/FFF) Higher Education Partnerships for Sustainability (HEPS) to help HE institutions deliver and share strategic SD objectives, 2000-03

3.  NON-FORMAL EDUCATION SECTOR

  Key Stakeholders: Government, Local authorities, Community groups, NGOs, Business, Trades Unions

  Agenda set by Agenda 21 (Chapter 36): Enable pre-service and in-service training for non-formal educators (eg Youth work). Support community-based organisations. Build partnerships with NGOs. Develop ICT for public outreach. Provide (national and local) public information services. Promote a co-operative relationship with the media, entertainment and advertising industries. Promote dissemination of traditional and socially learned knowledge. Stress the role of the family in environmental activities. Local Authorities to develop a service of locally-recruited and trained environmental technicians, and regional environmental labour market information systems.

EXEMPLAR ACTIVITIES

    —  Government support for CEE and, through it, its many stakeholders.

    —  Earmarking Environmental Action Fund resources to support education.

    —  Debating SD within the Children's Parliament on the Environment.

    —  DETR's Are you doing your bit? campaign.

    —  DfID's Building support for development raising public awareness and understanding of international development issues.

4.  LIFE-LONG LEARNING

  Key Stakeholders: Government, Local authorities, FE/HE, Community groups, Business, Trades Unions

  Agenda set by Agenda 21 (Chapter 36): Promote sustainability skills in adult education, including business, agricultural and industrial schools and training. Involve young people in discussion of issues, for example through Youth Hearings. Identify workforce training needs and assess measures taken to meet them. Encourage professional associations to review codes of practice. Develop a service of locally-recruited and trained environmental technicians. Develop national and regional environmental labour market information systems.

EXEMPLAR ACTIVITIES

    —  Establishing Local Agenda 21 initiatives.

    —  Local Government Act 2000 gives local authorities the power to promote local social, economic and environmental well being, and a duty to prepare community strategies, which set out to improve local quality of life and contribute to sustainable development.

    —  Performance and Innovation Unit 2002 published Resource productivity: making more with less and In demand: adult skills in the 21st century, both making links between education and sustainable development.

    —  Learning and Skills Act creates the Learning and Skills Council; responsibility for funding and planning education and training for over 16-year-olds in England.

    —  LSDA sponsors seminars on Learning to Last: Skills, Sustainability and Strategy.

    —  Sector Skills Development Agency given remit to advise Sector Skills Councils on SD, 2001.

5.  MULTI-SECTOR APPROACHES

  Key Stakeholders: Government, Local authorities, Schools, NGOs, FE/HE, Community, Business, Trades Unions.

  Agenda set by Agenda 21 (Chapter 36): Encourage integration of environmental management training across all sectors, and encourage social participation in sustainable work practices and lifestyles across all areas in Agenda 21, and even more closely to the ones on meeting basic needs, capacity-building, data and information, science and the role of major groups. Develop environmentally sound leisure and tourism activities.

EXEMPLAR ACTIVITIES

    —  DoE publishes This common inheritance.

    —  DETR publishes Quality of life counts listing sustainable development indicators.

    —  "Education for sustainable development" (ESD) replaces "environmental education" in government literature.

    —  SDEP establishes sub-groups on Schools; FE/HE; the Workplace; and General Public and Households.

    —  SDEP produces guidance on establishing ESD awareness-raising strategies for government departments, endorsed by Green Ministers Committee.

    —  DfEE/DETR/CEE voluntary code of practice for producers of educational resources supporting SD.

    —  DfID commissions research into how environmental education can be mainstreamed into its programmes in order to help meet international development targets.

CONCLUSION

  The role of the Government's Sustainable Development Education Panel has been crucial.

  Within formal education, revisions to the National Curriculum creating space for innovation and identifying ESD within curriculum aims and subject foci have been useful. Schools, however, remain substantially focused on the important "basics agenda" set by DfES; an agenda which itself is also crucial for implementing SD. Post-16, the Toyne Report is significant. Initiatives across the FE and HE sectors have been attempted.

  Within non-formal education, two major public awareness campaigns have been conducted and a statutory framework established creating opportunities for life-long learning initiatives.

  Many initiatives, valuable in themselves, do not amount to a national strategy. Education for sustainable development is still too often seen as a costly bolt-on, rather than as a means and opportunity better to achieve existing goals for education and SD.

  A national strategy is now needed across all education sectors. The WSSD presents an excellent opportunity to review the many UK educational initiatives, to learn from them, and to develop a coherent strategy.

ACRONYMS

  CEE—Council for Environmental Education

  DEFRA—Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

  DETR—Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  DfEE—Department for Education and Employment

  DfES—Department for Education and Skills

  DoE—Department of the Environment

  DEA—Development Education Association

  EAF—Environmental Action Fund

  ESD—Education for sustainable development

  FE—Further education

  FEFC—Further Education Funding Council

  FFF—Forum for the Future

  HE—Higher education

  Hefce—Higher Education Funding Council (England)

  LSDA—Learning and Skills Development Agency

  NC—National Curriculum

  OFSTED—Office for Standards in Education

  SCAA—Schools Curriculum & Assessment Authority

  SDEP—Sustainable Development Education Panel

  WSSD—World Summit on Sustainable Development

   CEE is grateful for the assistance of the University of Bath's Centre for Research in Education and the Environment in the drafting of this document.

February 2002



 
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