Case studies

Whole school approach

Monbulk Primary School

Monbulk Primary SchoolExternal Link has been on a sustainability mission since 2015, with the aims of helping the environment, educating students on environmental issues and solutions and involving parents and the wider community. Since signing up to ResourceSmart Schools, Monbulk Primary School has become certified in all 5 modules: Core, Energy, Waste, Water and Biodiversity.

Monbulk Primary School embedded environmental sustainability across its school by:

  • appointing some staff as sustainability leaders
  • developing a strategy to engage students
  • supporting senior school students to become part of a Sustainability Team
  • reviewing the curriculum to understand and improve how schools teach sustainability
  • installing solar power systems and decreasing electricity and gas usage
  • reducing waste to landfill after implementing ‘rubbish free lunches’
  • joining the Schools Water Efficiency ProgramExternal Link
  • partnering with Bunnings Warehouse and Home Hardware to plant trees on National Tree Planting Day.

Albert Park College

Environmental sustainability is a core value of Albert Park College. The college is committed to becoming a regenerative, carbon negative, resource smart, zero waste school, and to share their learnings with other schools. After embedding environmental sustainability into its strategic plan several years ago, the school has undertaken a range of initiatives to enhance the sustainability of their facilities and operations. This work has been significantly supported by the school’s involvement in the ResourceSmart Schools program.

Facilities and operations

Beaconsfield Upper Primary School

Beaconsfield Upper Primary SchoolExternal Link reduced their waste by having nude food days. Nude food is food that comes to school without disposable packaging – plastic bags, paper bags, wrappings, plastic water bottles or cling wraps.

By having nude food days, the school reduces waste, reducing costs for the school and the environment. Students and families have an additional opportunity to learn about sustainability in practice.

Albert Park College

Albert Park College has undertaken a number of initiatives to reduce the impact of school operations in the environment.

Initiatives the school has taken to date include:

  • installing solar panels which have contributed to a 20% reduction of electricity consumption
  • agreeing to take up the option (available to all schools) to pay for 100% electricity sourced from sustainable methods
  • installing technology to monitor energy consumption and carbon emissions
  • implementing an effective resource recovery and waste management system, including composting, soft plastics, paper/cardboard and comingled recycling to ensure waste production is kept to a minimum
  • applying policies to reduce the environmental impact of procurement and resource transfers in the school’s operational decision-making
  • participating in the Schools Water Efficiency ProgramExternal Link .

Reservoir East Primary School

Sustainability initiatives at Reservoir East Primary SchoolExternal Link are led by a motivated and determined sustainability committee, consisting of families, teachers and members of the broader school community, who are constantly seeking to consolidate best sustainable practices and introduce new sustainable initiatives.

Thanks to the leadership of the committee, the school has been able to minimise its waste. Achievements include:

  • 4 fully functioning worm farms for food scraps
  • compost bins for all remaining food scraps (that is, bread crusts, meat and citrus) – the school no longer sends any food to landfill
  • wicking garden beds for the compost and worm tea to fertilise
  • going paperless with bi-weekly newsletters
  • soft plastic recycling.

Teaching and learning

Newham Primary School

Each term Newham Primary School chooses a topic for the whole school to focus on that intersects with all areas of the curriculum including the Sustainability cross-curriculum priorityExternal Link . A recent focus was water which provided valuable opportunities to explore different dimensions of climate change and its impact across the world. Students explored different experiences of water shortages across different countries, connecting this to understandings of social justice and the historical legacies of colonisation, economic development, and conflict. The learning sequence included a focus on solutions for water shortages, such as sand dams and methods to mitigate erosion and improve water quality, providing students with a positive message.

Camp Hill Primary School

Camp Hill Primary School has used its participation in ResourceSmart SchoolsExternal Link to embed the Sustainability cross-curriculum priorityExternal Link . The schools’ RSS facilitator led professional development for teachers, presenting a range of resources and activities for teaching Sustainability. Teachers found this useful for identifying ways to integrate sustainability into lessons across the curriculum, including literacy, reading, Science, Geography, Design and Technology, Civics and Citizenship and the Arts.

The 2022 school concert reflected sustainability teaching and learning at the school through the theme of ‘Wilderness’. Each grade level had a specific natural environment and group of animals to explore for their characters in the concert including:

  • river and ocean creatures (Foundation)
  • wetland insects and reptiles (Grade 1 and 2)
  • birds and forests (Grade 3 and 4)
  • mammals from different habitats (Grade 5 and 6).

Students learnt about the flora and fauna of each habitat, the sustainability challenges and solutions for each environmental or sustainability issue. Linking to the art curriculum, students created items for their costumes as well as the props and the backdrop for the concert depicting the different animals, plants and habitats. Students explored the movements of different animals and used this to inform their class dances in the concert. The music repertoire was developmentally appropriate and chosen to be relevant and to connect to the animal themes. Grade 5 and 6 students developed short drama sketches that tied into the concert narrative together by taking on the role of kid rangers from different locations around the world.

Their characters had the responsibility of addressing specific environmental challenges, such as how to prevent litter from going into river and ocean waterways, protecting and revegetating habitat for migrating birds, preventing and mitigating the effects of climate change for mammals. These roleplays allowed students to connect with SustainabilityExternal Link , ScienceExternal Link , Civics and CitizenshipExternal Link curricula.

The concert opened with an Acknowledgement of Country, including a didgeridoo and clap stick performance, performed by Koorie students, who acknowledged the local traditional custodians of the land and their long history of caring for country. The concert provided students the opportunity to communicate these lessons to their families and the wider school community in a fun and meaningful way.

Community partnerships

Reservoir East Primary School

Reservoir East Primary School (REPS) embeds sustainability into its school with the support of its local community. REPS Community GardenExternal Link is a space where students, families and community can gather while learning about growing food. The aim of the garden is to share fresh, nutritious produce with the school and local community, while educating and advocating for growing food locally and promoting community wellbeing. Parents and families regularly help in the garden on Wednesday mornings. The school holds working bees to provide the opportunity to strengthen ties within the school and local community.
To date the garden has provided the school community with organic herbs and vegetables. The school shares excess produce from the garden with Reservoir Neighbourhood House for their food relief program.

Camp Hill Primary School

Camp Hill Primary school uses its local creek and Melbourne Water’s River Detective ProgramExternal Link to include science and sustainability into the curriculum. River Detectives is a citizen science program that connects students to their local waterway. Students test and analyse the water quality of the local creek and wetlands using River Detectives kits. They observe the water quality, the pH scale and the organisms living in the water and reflect on how water, land, plants, animals and human behaviours are linked to the waterways.

Additional teaching resources can be found on the Melbourne Water websiteExternal Link .

Koorie perspectives

Reservoir East Primary School

Reservoir East Primary School is a leader in sustainability as well as Koorie education. The school won the 2022 Victorian Education Excellence Award for Outstanding Koorie EducationExternal Link for providing culturally competent, responsive and inclusive learning spaces reflective of Aboriginal culture and peoples.

Schools can review the Secretary's Marrung Award winnersExternal Link , recognise good practice in Aboriginal education and inclusion, to be inspired about actions they can take.

Newham Primary School

Newham Primary School acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people as the Traditional Owners of the land on which it resides and integrates this acknowledgement into all learning. This extends to ensuring appropriate opportunities for students to learn about, and from, Koorie perspectives on caring for Country. The school recently established a Biodiversity Learning Hub (outdoor classroom) with the support of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Corporation. This involved rejuvenating an area of its grounds, which runs adjacent to a local waterway and is part of a broader biolink trail. The Hub was designed to provide students with safe, accessible and hands-on environmental learning opportunities which contributes to the health of the local environment.

Recognising that Indigenous knowledge about flora and fauna needed to be accessed through appropriate protocols the school engaged with Traditional Owners on this initiative. Before reaching out to Traditional Owners, the school reached out to their regional Koorie Education Coordinator as a first point of contact to ensure they are following appropriate protocols and identify relevant information resources. The engagement with the regional Koorie Education Coordinator and Traditional Owners assured the school that appropriate protocols were being followed. It used Aboriginal plant names on the signage for the Biodiversity Learning Hub, as well as share information about the cultural values and uses of the plants to use in learning activities with students.

A Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity grant partly funded the Learning Hub.

In another example of Koorie engagement in sustainability initiatives, students investigated the remediation of the waterways that has been taking place all around Victoria and wider Australia. Students explored the history of changes in the courses of waterways and the impact on fish life and surrounding habitats. This included learning about Indigenous practices of creating habitat for fish by building fish hotels in waterways.

When sharing information about Indigenous practices, the school is mindful to use only materials produced by Indigenous organisations or other approved authorities, to ensure that cultural knowledge comes from appropriate sources. The school complemented this with information gained from reputable, publicly available sources, such as Museum VictoriaExternal Link and Deadly StoriesExternal Link .

You can learn more from the Newham Primary School websiteExternal Link .

Student-led action

Tyabb Primary School

Tyabb Primary School established a green teamExternal Link comprising members from each year level who encourage their peers and the wider community to care about health and the environment. Students connect with the natural world through indigenous plantings, vegetable garden, participation in 'I Sea I Care' and creek and bushland activities. The school invites students to participate in the Kids Teaching Kids Conference, organise and participate in activities for World Environment Day and Walk to School Day and take part in ‘nude food’ challenges.

Albert Park College

Student leadership drives sustainability at Albert Park College through the student-led sustainability subcommittee.

The Year 12 student captain takes on the leadership of the subcommittee and membership of the school council as a central part of their student captain role. The schools environmental program coordinator, one member of the school’s senior leadership team and volunteer parents provide support and guidance to the subcommittee. Although teachers are part of the subcommittee, all decision-making is led by the students. The subcommittee meets twice a term.

Every year the subcommittee gathers student ideas to plan for what they want to achieve. The plan is then reviewed by school council. School council can require the subcommittee to undertake further research to gather evidence for a proposal which gives students the experience of engaging in collective decision-making processes and building business cases.

In 2020 the subcommittee led an initiative to install more solar panels at the school. While the school leadership led the processes for procurement and installation, the subcommittee undertook school wide campaigns to reduce electricity consumption, such as Instagram challenges and awareness campaigns. The students also monitored electricity data to be able to demonstrate the impact of their campaign and the switch to renewable energy. These campaigns have led to the schools reducing electricity consumption by almost 20%, and the installation of solar panels has enabled the school to cover its consumption as well as feed power back to the grid during school holidays.

The work of the sub-committee is supported by the schools’ Environment Team, which is led by the year 11 environment leader, and is made up of younger students from years 7, 8 and 9. The Environment Team helps to carry out the school-wide actions of the sub-committee, enabling a wider group of students to develop experience in leadership roles and understand the environmental sustainability dimensions of the school. These actions have included performing waste-audits, organising ride-to-school days, and producing awareness posters to promote sustainability across the school.

Includes case studies for each priority area

Reviewed 19 December 2023

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