A more sustained approach to sustainability through CPD

Embedding sustainability into teacher development is key to our success in creating a college-wide culture or ecological stewardship

Embedding sustainability into teacher development is key to our success in creating a college-wide culture or ecological stewardship

11 Mar 2024, 5:00

Once upon a time in the ever-evolving land of Sustainabilityville, the residents were engaged in a perpetual game of “Guess What We Care About Today?”

At first, the villagers were all about saving the trees. “Paper is the enemy!” they declared, as they hugged every tree in sight. But lo and behold, a few months later, the trees were old news. Suddenly, it was all about reducing carbon footprints.

The residents traded in their tree-saving campaigns for carbon footprint dancing lessons. “Step lightly, my friends, for the Earth has a delicate dance floor!” they exclaimed, twirling around in their eco-friendly slippers.

Just when the carbon footprint craze reached its peak, a new fad emerged: Sustainable fashion! The villagers tossed their slippers aside and embraced clothes made from recycled fizzy pop cans. “Fashion with a fizz!” they proudly proclaimed.

Yet, as quickly as it began, sustainable fashion faded into oblivion. What came next?

The villagers of Sustainabilityville decided it was time to put down the recyclable fizzy pop can garments and do something more substantial. Recognising the need for consistency, they collectively concluded that a village-wide shift in mindset and a united approach to sustainable changes were the key. The forward-thinking villagers of Sustainabilityville set their sights on the heart of the village: education.

My choice of a story over a conventional blog post reflects our belief at Suffolk New College that education for sustainable development is about changing how we experience and engage with the world. By weaving a narrative, we emphasise the need for a more immersive, dynamic, and adaptable approach to teaching and learning – an approach that aligns with the essence of sustainability itself.

It’s not a static concept; it evolves, just like the characters and plot in a story.

This is about creating a culture of change

Last week, Suffolk New College won the Association of Colleges’ beacon award for education for sustainable development, sponsored by Incenco. What made us different from the other finalists, I believe, is our dedication to sustainability beyond curriculum teaching.

For Suffolk New College, this is about long-term change and creating a culture of change. Sustainability demands that we experience the world in a different way, and that means teaching in a different way.

Our teacher development team have created a holistic CPD programme, aiming not only to integrate sustainability into curriculum areas but also to equip our staff with strategies to nurture sustainable mindsets in learners.

Essential components include critical and systematic thinking, alongside the ability to make decisions that are future-proof. By frequently revisiting these topics in various formats during CPD sessions, we hope to create an environment where sustainability becomes ingrained in our educational philosophy.

Our innovative approach to staff development has included escape rooms, Taskmaster tournaments, gamification activities and creative pledges during CPD days. Departing from traditional CPD formats, these activities prompted staff to reconsider their teaching practices by placing them in the learner’s role.

Our role as educators is not just to impart knowledge and skills but to instil values, attitudes, and a sense of responsibility in our whole college community. By prioritising sustainability in teacher development, staff members serve as genuine role models for environmental and social issues.

This awareness extends to the needs of others, including future generations and marginalised communities, motivating learners to contribute to positive societal change. These values have become ingrained in the culture of Suffolk New College, defining both learners and staff and establishing what it means to “Be Suffolk New College”.

The way I see it, our sustainability success relies on the importance of continuous learning, implementing innovative staff development programs, experimenting with teaching strategies and allocating dedicated time for research into green topics as pivotal components of a holistic approach to ecological stewardship.

Our acknowledgment as winners of this sustainability award is not merely a celebration but an invitation for others to embrace a journey towards a more sustainable and responsible future in education, by rethinking your staff development too.

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *