School operations

Environmental Sustainability in Schools

Framework for a whole school approach

This policy supports schools to plan, implement, and monitor actions across 6 priority areas:

  • school leadership
  • teaching and learning
  • facilities and operations
  • community partnerships
  • Koorie perspectives
  • student-led action.

Example: implementing a whole-school approach to solar energy

Installing a solar panel system can help reduce carbon emissions and save money on energy bills (facilities and operations). This initiative requires planning for ongoing maintenance and ensuring school council support for shifting to renewable energy (school leadership). Having solar power systems in a school can provide valuable teaching and learning opportunities (for example, the science energy conversions in solar panels, issues of injustice related to affordability, the economics of supply and demand). Community partnerships with community groups can be opportunities for collaboration on learning about the benefits of renewable energy systems. These teaching opportunities can also integrate engagement with Koorie perspectives, such as learning about climate, habitat management and related cultural practices. Student-led action can spur such initiatives, and also be mobilised to monitor energy production and consumption and share learning with families and communities.

The above is an example only. Solar panel installation may not be appropriate for every school.

Plan, implement and monitor

Schools are encouraged to plan, implement and monitor environmental sustainability actions across all 6 priority areas. This should be done in a manner that is responsive to local context and involves students, families and communities. The approach described below is guidance only – not all schools will be able to prioritise environmental sustainability in their schools.


Schools may wish to start by developing an Environmental Sustainability Plan using the Environmental Sustainability Plan template (DOCX)External Link . The template will help identify how and when the school will advance sustainability in a manner that is flexible and responsive to local context. Schools’ plans should include goals and timelines within each of the 6 priority areas. The template encourages involvement of students, families and community organisations in planning to strengthen engagement and support successful implementation. Including students in this planning can also support wellbeing and reduce eco-anxiety by empowering students and giving them a sense of accomplishment.

Teachers may work together to develop a plan for teaching about sustainability across all levels of schooling from Foundation to Year 10. For example, teachers from different disciplines might identify the sustainability components of each of their curricula and map them onto a year-by-year planner. The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) has published examples of curriculum contentExternal Link in the 8 learning areas of the curriculum as well as other online tools for whole-school planningExternal Link .


School leaders, teachers, students and parents may all be given responsibility for activities as part of the school’s Environmental Sustainability Plan.

Sharing responsibilities across the wider school community increases the likelihood of success as this creates more buy-in and ensures accountability for environmental sustainability is diversified. Forming a committee is a common approach taken by schools that have achieved their environmental goals successfully. The Environmental Sustainability Plan template (DOCX)External Link includes guidance for schools to bring committees together.


Schools may wish to monitor progress closely to ensure they achieve the outcomes identified in their Environmental Sustainability Plan.

Tracking progress in achieving their environmental sustainability goals will assist schools to close gaps and identify next steps. The Environmental Sustainability Plan includes ways to set targets and track progress. The ResourceSmart Schools programExternal Link tracks progress automatically for schools that sign up for the program.

Schools may also choose to:

  • report against sustainability outcomes though curriculum achievement standards in learning areas that relate to sustainability concepts and link these to schools’ sustainability goals
  • share evidence of progress and achievements with the school community.
Includes information on the whole-school approach promoted by the Environmental Sustainability in Schools policy

Reviewed 19 September 2023

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