The DCSF Sustainable Schools plan offers 8 doorways through which schools might choose to introduce more sustainable practices. At the same time, the recent Children’s Plan challenges all schools to be zero-carbon by 2016 and by 2020 all schools to be models of good environmental citizenship. If this is going to be achieved, schools will have to embrace each of the doorways with enthusiasm and commitment.
The eight doorways are:
1) Food and drink (e.g. reviewing school meals, if they can negotiate with the likes of Scolarest)
2) Travel and traffic (e.g. creating a travel plan)
3) Purchasing and waste (e.g. reduce, reuse, recycle)
4) Energy and water (e.g. installing renewable energy)
5) Buildings and grounds (e.g. setting up a Growing Schools project and designing new buildings for sustainability)
6) Inclusion and participation (e.g. setting up an eco-champions group or creating more opportunities to explore the natural world)
7) Local well-being (e.g. extending the above activities to engage with the wider community)
8) Global dimension (e.g. international exchanges and enriching the curriculum with global systems thinking)
The Year of Action (2007-2008) is already underway, and there are awards, competitions, online resources and grants to support schools. To be frank the resources available from the DCSF site are not particularly inspiring: The Carbon Detectives site for pupils www.carbondetectives.org.uk/ has been unavailable every time I’ve looked, the competition is too superficial, the governor’s tools are too overwhelming and text-based. As a school governor it hasn’t yet been on the agenda in my school, although I hope to put it on the map. Teachers I speak to say that only a small number of schools are picking up on it (although those that do can be quite inspirational). Forming a travel plan, having a waste audit and setting up an international school exchange seem to be the most accessible steps. One told me that her school won an environmental schools award because there had been hardly any entrants. Let’s hope that in a year or two, there are many more schools tackling several ‘doorways’ in creative and integrated ways.
A couple of quick updates:
After trying a few times, I’ve finally looked at the Carbon Detectives site. I quite like it actually, although it could be a lot slicker.
And you might like to read an article I wrote for publication in the engage journal, Cultural Education for a Changed Planet, on this link:
This link has the press release about the 2012 Olympics education programme which will run alongside the Cultural Olympiad, in close connection with it. It’s good to see grants for schools to develop their sustainability plans, supporting the Government’s plan to see all schools zero carbon by 2016. It is interesting to see that some of the initiatives already exist on a national basis, such as ‘Big Arts Week’ and ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ This is efficient and reassuring, but one wonders what is really innovative about the programme. Also, it would have been good to see more explicit mention of partnerships with creative and cultural organisations.
The MLA and NMDC commissioned a really useful piece of research this year.
Museums and Galleries in Britain: Economic, Social and Creative Impacts http://www.mla.gov.uk/resources/assets/M/museums_galleries_in_britain_10528.pdf
It contains lots of crunchy data about the changing patterns of income, expenditure and activity over the past decade by the major museums and galleries (nationally and regionally). Overall, if you know the sector well it doesn’t tell very much that is surprising (e.g. we knew that the Lottery had a huge effect on these organisations around 1997-2003, and that Lottery income has gone down significantly since then). However, it is useful to have the precise data to cite. As well as data, it gives several case studies to show how museums and galleries have had an impact on learners, communities and the wider world. It states that:
“The main types of project exemplified have the following characteristics or purposes:
- providing the country, a city or county with an understanding of its history;
- working with the media to promote exhibitions and therefore to propagate ideas, debate or knowledge;
- initiatives for schools and young people to attract them into museums and galleries;
- programmes for new citizens to provide a stepping-stone into British culture and life;
- encouraging intergenerational links and understanding;
- helping the government deliver educational or social initiatives;
- working with other public, private and voluntary bodies to promote economic or social objectives;
- reacting to current affairs and providing a context for analysis;
- promoting British ideas and creativity overseas;
- understanding how museums and galleries can better link to a changing population in a rapidly developing and competitive world.”
I was interested in this list, wondering if it does represent a comprehensive list of the categories of public engagement by the cultural sector, or whether the authors have chosen the case studies and the categories they exemplify, to make a case to the Government. If the latter is the case, I’m not sure the report does it very well. For example, three of the categories are about promoting and teaching about British culture and creativity, but none of them are overtly about promoting or teaching about diverse global cultures which has been of crucial importance in Government policy. Also, at least one of the case studies is about furthering current scientific expertise and understanding, again, very important in Government policy, but this is not included as a key purpose of museums and galleries.
Blurb is an online service that helps you design books, ‘slurping’ content from your Flickr photos and text or from your blogs. It then prints the books for you and there is also a bookstore to help you sell them. The books start at £6.95 for a paperback of 40 pages, with discounts offered for an order of more than 10 books. One option is that you can invite others (e.g. people in your Flickr groups) to contribute content to a community book. I’m quite excited about the possibilities of this for creative and cultural education projects. Flickr is a great system for displaying scanned images (e.g. drawings, old photographs, letters) as well as images straight from the camera. Also, the text boxes by each image are big, so it can be as much a tool for sharing writing as for sharing images.
Really useful for making brochures or records of projects too.