Bentleigh West Primary School – 5Star

Bentleigh West Primary School has undertaken many different projects over their sustainability journey in order to be awarded a five star rating. A big reason for the success of the schools endeavours is the fact that sustainability activities have been firmly set into the schools curriculum.

Bentleigh West Primary School has produced an Education for Environment Sustainability Policy which reflects the ‘Educating for a Sustainable Future – A National Environmental Education Statement for Australian Schools’. Environment/ sustainability programs have been developed embedding the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) and Principles of Learning and Teaching (PoLT) into a whole school integrated curriculum. The integrated curriculum utilises a creative approach by incorporating Learning Landscapes, outdoor classrooms, which by the recreation of specific habitat/biodiversities reflect the development of land use within the local Bentleigh area. Indigenous corridors, grasslands and a Gathering Place garden portray the significance and the cultural heritage of the original landowners, the Boonerwrung Community. Vegetable gardens reflect the market garden lifestyle of the first Europeans and constructed wetlands depict the original Elster Creek biodiversity that once ran above ground at the rear of the school. All students maintain these and other themed gardens such as a sensory garden that have been developed throughout the school.

The Learning Landscapes are used as a pedagogical tool to engage deeper thinking by utilising rich deep tasks in which children are actively engaged in educational learning outcomes in a relevant setting and real life context which extend beyond the local, to global communities.
Their Learning Landscapes encourage:
• Important links with the wider community
• Understanding and enjoyment of the environment
• Informed concern for their natural and cultural heritage
• Positive attitudes which are caring, socially and environmentally responsible
• Life long learning
• Diversity of ‘hands on’ learning experiences
• Empowering of the school community to ‘own’ and actively care for their environment

The Education for Environmental Sustainability integrated curriculum aims to develop lifelong creative/reflective thinking and improve outcomes through relevant curriculum, based on greater student engagement, hands on, real life learning that addresses individual needs and learning styles. It also incorporates higher order thinking, in depth questioning, co-operative learning, problem solving and an inquiry approach.

This whole school program incorporates twelve integrated units of work, three per level, each of which includes a Key Question, Stated Student Understandings and a Rich Task which will be celebrated in a whole school culminating activity. Each unit of work also contains an inquiry model for implementing the unit and is presented in a Blooms/ Gardner Matrix to allow for flexibility, ongoing reflection and assessment, thinking skills, engagement, student generated questions and individual student passion projects. This chosen format is designed to be non prescriptive and allows individual teachers to incorporate different methodologies and philosophies such as Three Storey Learning and Edward De Bono. Within this framework staff members are able to imprint their own styles and choices, thus providing ownership and ensuring the programs are of a whole school nature. A cross-reference grid teaming the integrated units with their Learning Landscapes and the VELS strands, domains and dimensions was also included.

The following is the whole school overview of Rich Tasks and Key Questions which in part give insight to the structure of the schools framework.

LEVEL 1

Rich Task Design and produce a model to reflect their understandings of how the environment affects living things.
Key Question How does the environment affect living and non living things?

LEVEL 2

Rich Task Contribute to a multidimensional class timeline demonstrating their understandings of change over time.
Key Question How is life constantly changing?

LEVEL 3

Rich Task Students will investigate the sustainability issues of a product during its journey from producer to consumer.
Students will take constructive action and create a persuasive and informative multimedia presentation.
Key Question What type of individual is required to maintain and improve a sustainable future?

LEVEL 4

Rich Task Students present understandings using electronic media to present their findings to the global community.
Key Question What sorts of actions are required by communities to maintain and improve a sustainable future?

Significant initiatives to ensure ongoing operation of the programs have included the adoption of several key components. The election of student Environment Monitors has strengthened the schools Student Leadership positions and has enabled students to voice and initiate their personal opinions and ideas in an active manner, further strengthening their engagement in the Education for Environmental Sustainability program. One of the roles of these students is to monitor the energy and paper use and through initiatives such as placing stickers on electricity outputs remind the whole school of the importance of reusing and reducing consumption.

Whole school community implementations such as closing the school canteen, eating lunch inside and introducing a ‘Nude Food’ policy has resulted in an almost litter free school yard. The recycling of food scraps are directed to compost bins, worm farms and feeding their chooks. Water catchment is directed to seven storage tanks and is then reused to water gardens or is placed into their wetlands where the water is then filtered before entering storm water drains. All staff use intranet to access daily organisation and communication, thus reducing paper usage and photocopying. Since the introduction of the Environment/Sustainability policy in 2001 Bentleigh West’s waste has on average been reduced by 50%. In the last two years their weekly council waste bin collection has dropped from 20 to just 12 bins per week. Fortnightly Visy paper collection has also been reduced by 50%.

Supporting initiatives such as Planet Ark Tree Planting Day and Clean Up Australia Day and the School’s Gardens Awards has led to the promotion of their school through widespread publicity to the local and wider community. These special events provide a focus for the whole school community to actively engage in these highlighted awareness campaigns. Curriculum activities are incorporated into matrices and offer more meaningful outcomes to the events.

Involving students in local community programs enable a wide range of activities for students to develop and strengthen their concepts of civic and citizenship responsibilities. Some of the schools local community partnerships include Friends of Namatjira Park, Elster Creek Water Watch, opening the 2006 1st International Youth Coastal Conference and the BEACH Innovations and Excellence Cluster group. These programs included field trips where students have helped increase biodiversity by revegetating specific areas and monitoring water quality. The skills acquired in these projects are then applied in the schools Learning Landscapes through curriculum activities as stated in their integrated matrices.

Collaborative action with the following agencies, LandLearn, Gould Group, Greening Australia, Conservation Volunteers of Australia, EPA, South East Water and Melbourne Water has further linked student learning to the wider community.

The success of the Education for Environmental Sustainability policies and programs can be attributed to the child centeredness of the schools approach, the whole school integrated curriculum and acknowledgement by all stake holders of the vital importance of the schools programs in working towards a sustainable future.
A need to showcase all of the schools hard work became obvious as requests for school tours and presentations at other school curriculum and Cluster group days significantly increased. An on site, whole day professional development was implemented for educators from across the state to share the schools Educating for Environmental Sustainability policies and programs.

Bentleigh West Primary School is now in the process of commencing an upgrade. This exciting news will enable the whole school community to instil their pedagogies and environment/sustainability ideals into new teaching facilities.

By becoming a Five Star Sustainable School the whole school community has celebrated the recognition the school has received for their Educating for Environmental Sustainability policy and programs. The school have also developed new networks and partnerships that have provided opportunities to strengthen their commitments and they have also been given greater opportunities to share their policy and programs with other educators.

By Bentleigh West Primary School|2017-11-06T17:13:42+10:00April 24th, 2013|0 Comments
X