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Teachers: Sustainable Development

Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will make it his policy to ensure that training courses for new teachers and headteachers include learning about sustainable development; (141192)

(2) if he will make changes to schools’ curriculums to include more content about sustainable development;

(3) what support his Department provides for the eco-schools programme; and if he will adopt a target to make every school an eco-school;

(4) if he will introduce beacon school status for those schools which put sustainable development into practice;

(5) if he will make it his policy to require Ofsted (a) to inspect and (b) to report on schools’ commitment to sustainable development in (i) teaching and (ii) property management.

Building on school workforce remodelling and the reform of teachers’ pay, we are working with social partners to deliver a new teacher professionalism in which all teachers are engaged in ongoing professional development that takes account of individual development needs, career aspirations and school’s improvement priorities, along with national, regional and local priorities. Sustainable development can easily be incorporated into courses as part of a qualified teacher’s professional development.

The National College for School Leadership already covers learning on sustainable development on the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) as part of ‘Developing a Strategic Educational Vision for the School’. The NPQH will be a mandatory qualification for new head teachers from April 2009.

Sustainable development is already a statutory part of the National Curriculum in citizenship, design and technology, geography and science. The current review of the secondary curriculum will mean that there is a sharper focus on sustainable development in these subjects. QCA will be developing supporting material to demonstrate how sustainable development can be taught across the curriculum.

Beacon school status was phased out in 2005 as part of a streamlining of existing programmes. The Government wants all schools to put sustainable development into practice and is encouraging them to do so through the current sustainable schools year of action. We value award schemes like Eco-schools and also local schemes such as Sandwell’s Sustainable Schools Charter. DEFRA has provided £65,000 this year to the Eco-schools programme. The Department has no plans to adopt an Eco-schools target but all schools are encouraged to be sustainable schools by 2020.

We believe that school inspection should recognise where the efforts made to create sustainable schools are having a significant impact on a school’s overall effectiveness.

As stated in ‘Sustainable Schools for Pupils, Communities and the Environment—an action plan for the DfES’, published in March 2007, we will be discussing with Ofsted how best to ensure that sustainable development is recognised during school inspections. The Department has developed a tool linked to the Ofsted self-evaluation form to enable schools to record and report their efforts on sustainable development. Sustainable Development is an important part of value for money in property management and as such should already be factored into inspectors’ judgments.