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Whole School Approach

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is not a school subject or a What. It is not about a specific content that is to be taught during certain lessons. ESD is the How. How do we design all teaching and all activities in school so that the students develop an increased action competence for sustainable development. Nor can ESD be conducted by an individual teacher. In order to bring about real change, all staff, all subjects and not least the school management, must be active in the work with ESD.


Whole School Approach is a way of structuring and clarify the importance of all activities, all staff and all students at the school being aware and involved in the work with ESD. This means that sustainability is guiding all activities and operations of the schools. ESD is infused the vision, mission and other policies of the school, it is central in the leadership, structure, management, planning and monitoring, in the teaching and learning, it supports students participation and influence and collaboration with communities. Thereby it involves and builds capacity of all students, teachers, parents and the wider community.

To build a school where ESD permeates all activities, you need to develop and work with the following areas:

  • School culture and ethos
  • Monitoring and valuation
  • Teaching and learning
  • Pupils
  • Community
  • The School estate

Read more about Whole School Approach and the six developing areas below.

6 themes in Whole School Approach

6. The School Estate

6.1 School resource management

  • Sustainability guides decision-making about procurement, waste management, energy and water use.
  • The school models good practice for sustainability.

6.2 School build and restoration

  • The school employs and models technologies that advance sustainability.
  • The school is a ‘building that teaches’.

6.3 School grounds

  • Stimulating learning resources and rich learning environments are available.
  • Child-centred learning models, modes and strategies are applied.

4. Pupils

4.1 Safe and supportive learning environment

  • Pupils are supported as they take creative risks.
  • Pupils appraise their own learning.

4.2 Pupil participation and empowerment

  • Pupils have meaningful opportunities to participate in school-based decision-making.
  • Pupils have opportunities to practise leadership and citizenship skills.

2. Monitoring and evaluation

2.1 Action learning

  • The school is a learning organisation and uses action learning to develop good practice, in and beyond the classroom.

5. Community

5.1 Links with parents, governors and school boards

  • The school – and its governors or school board – fosters productive relationships with parents.
  • The school values the contributions of parents and governors or staff members.

5.2 Links with the community

  • The school is valued as part of the community.
  • The community is valued as part of the school.
  • Pupils have the capacity and the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the community

5.3 Links with the wider community

  • The school recognises that it is locally based and globally placed.
  • This recognition figures prominently in decision-making.

3. Teaching and learning

3.1 Formal curriculum (core and non-core)

  • If education for sustainable development (ESD) is statutory curriculum requirements are addressed.
  • A progression describes age-appropriate Learning for Sustainability that explores key concepts, theories, skills, values and attitudes.

3.2 Diversity

  • Direct experiences with ‘nature’ inspire learners and link learning with values and attitudes that advance sustainability.
  • The curriculum has a global dimension that offers a relevant context through which pupils enrich their understanding of other cultures and societies.
  • The ways in which the school respects and values diversity are apparent to pupils.

3.3 Quality teaching

  • Stimulating learning resources and rich learning environments are available.
  • Child-centred learning models, modes and strategies are applied.

3.4 Professional development

  • Professional development opportunities that advance Learning for Sustainability are available to all teachers and staff.

1. School culture and ethos

1.1 Whole school approach

  • The whole school is involved in decision-making.
  • Participatory decision-making addresses all aspects of school life.

1.2 Whole school policy

  • Learning for Sustainability is embedded in the school’s mission and ethos.

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Senast ändrad 13/01/22

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