Meet the changemakers

by Angela Spencer


This is a succinct, practical, and relevant article which provides ideas for schools thinking about environmentally sustainable issues. It describes the efforts made by several schools in the UK to tackle the challenge of focusing on future-oriented education.

There are a number of schools in New Zealand also focusing on environmental sustainability. Several are featured in the digital stories on Educational Leaders. In light of the introduction of The New Zealand Curriculum and its emphasis on across-curriculum competencies and future-focused issues, this article is timely and useful.

The article begins with a specific example of what one primary school is doing, and the excellent reports that have emerged about the school. A growing number of primary and secondary schools are taking up the challenges.

In the UK, principals professional development is placing an emphasis on ways to help principals successfully promote and foster sustainable development within their school. One way of supporting such work is for schools to foster alliances with other green-focused organisations and with local council initiatives.

Schools engaging with this kind of work have noticed positive spin-offs for their students, improving engagement and responsibility. They have also found it a way to involve the whole school community and to build stronger relationships and partnerships.

The article suggests eight ‘doorways’ or areas of activity around the school for getting started. Some examples are buildings and grounds, food and drink, travel and traffic, purchasing and waste. For some schools, these projects have had budget spin-offs through making savings or creating initiatives that are saleable. There is also a list of some specific examples of successful projects.

The article is timely and very accessible.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this article:

  •  “The thing is not to get hung up on setting up windmills and solar panels, but to evaluate where you are now and make small savings across the board.” Use the ‘doorways’ suggested in this article to evaluate where your school is now in terms of sustainability and to think about an initiative that fits with your community’s values and aspirations.
  •  Consider ways in which you can involve students in the development of an environmentally sustainable school, and how to link what you do to your school’s efforts to design and review the curriculum.


Spencer, A. (June 2007). Meet the changemakers. Ldr: The online magazine for school leaders, 27. NCSL

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