For a sustainable future, the time to act is now 

By Emma Harrison, ASCL Business Leadership Specialist 

At ASCL we speak on behalf of members and act on behalf of children and young people.  Many children in our schools and colleges are aware of the climate emergency we are living through with the need to make urgent changes now before the damage is irreversible for the planet.  

I was recently at a sustainability and climate change event where this quote was displayed from Austin, Year 5: “There are 8 billion people and if we work together, we can all have a positive impact.  Nothing should be unsustainable if we want to protect our future”. Absolutely right, Austin!

We know some children are experiencing eco-anxiety, defined by the American Psychological Association as “a chronic fear of environmental doom”.  It can feel a bit like this for adults too, however, we can convert fear into action, and that action gives us hope for a better planet.

Taking the lead
We are all called to act and make changes, but it can feel a bit overwhelming.  

Some key questions come to mind: 
  • Where do I start? 
  • What skills do I need? 
  • How do I find the time to do more? 
  • What if I am I not doing enough? 
As always, just start somewhere! Together, taking small steps, the education workforce can make big changes.  We all have a part to play in this story.

It is two years since the Department for Education published its Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy (April 2022).  Within the strategy, there is a target for all education settings to have a sustainability lead and climate action plan in place by 2025 to help embed sustainability in everything they do. Do you have one? Does the whole school, trust or college community know about it? Is it embedded into your culture in the same way you embed safeguarding practices?  It requires behavioural change from all of us which takes time and practice.

Sustainability impacts all aspects of our school and college systems: curriculum, outdoor learning, business operations including the estate, school meals, procurement, ‘green’ careers, and the list continues. It truly is, and needs to be, a team effort, with leadership at all levels.

The education sector is well known for collaboration and sharing good practice with peers. This really is the time to join forces and learn, overcome barriers and make a difference together for our future generations.  It is possible.

Professional development and learning
ASCL has responded to calls for professional learning in this space and will be running our inaugural Conference for a Sustainable Future on 5 June 2024 in London.  The programme includes a range of expert speakers to inspire and support you on your sustainability journey, together with workshops throughout the day focusing on operations, education and curriculum, and biodiversity. 

Full details and online booking can be found here.  

We hope to see you there. 

Emma Harrison is ASCL Business Leadership Specialist.
Posted: 08/04/2024 11:38:35