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OFSTED Sustainable Schools report launched 16th Dec 2009

18 December 2009

Ofsted has released (December 16th) the findings of a three-year inspection programme looking at improvement in education for sustainable development in a selection of schools.
The small-scale survey, which followed a group of schools over a three-year period, reveals that a focus on sustainable development is not only having a direct impact on the actions of pupils and their families but on the wider community. It also shows that schools themselves are reaping benefits from improved provision through cost savings and better behaviour.

Key findings
�� Discussions with pupils showed that, over the three years of the survey, they developed a better understanding of the impact of their lifestyles on the  sustainability of the environment.
�� At the beginning of the survey, none of the schools was outstanding in its  approach to sustainability. By the time of the third visit, all but one of the schools  had improved by at least one inspection grade. One school had improved from  satisfactory to outstanding and three that were originally inadequate were good.
�� The primary schools visited made greater progress than the secondary schools in improving provision for education for sustainable development.
�� In the most successful schools, education for sustainability was an integral element of the curriculum and all pupils and staff contributed to improving the sustainability of their institution.
�� Most of the headteachers found that, over the course of the survey, education for sustainability had been an important factor in improving teaching and learning more generally. This was confirmed through lesson observations in a range of subjects across the sample of schools visited.
�� Some school leaders identified links between particular pupils’ involvement in sustainable activities and improvement in their attitudes and behaviour generally.
�� Pupils responded particularly well to education for sustainability when it gave them the opportunity to take part in practical activities within and outside the classroom and enabled them to research, plan and implement projects that made a clear difference to the school and the local community.
�� A common characteristic of the lessons observed, across the full range of National Curriculum subjects seen during the survey, was the high level of engagement of the pupils in work they perceived as relevant to their lives and future well-being.
�� The schools demonstrated how greater awareness of the need for sustainability can lead to reduced financial costs and better management of resources and estate.
�� The knowledge and understanding that the pupils gained at school contributed to their leading more sustainable lives at home which, in turn, led their families to re-examine their lifestyles and use of resources.

OFSTED recommendations
Schools should:
�� make sustainability a priority in their improvement plans to ensure they are meeting their commitment to become a sustainable school by 2020
�� develop a whole-school approach to education for sustainability in the
curriculum to enable it to become firmly embedded in teaching and learning
�� ensure that all pupils have access to out-of-classroom learning to support their understanding of the need to care for their environment and to
promote their physical and mental well-being
�� provide appropriate training and support to inform and engage teachers so that they understand what is required to make a school sustainable
�� ensure that they manage the school estate carefully and become models of good practice for sustainable living and working
Full OFSTED report at
http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/News/Education-for-sustainable-development-is-making-a-difference