The ECA believes that education is key to helping people understand the environmental challenges that face us and to develop the confidence and skills needed to empower them to take action. It also believes that principles of environmental sustainability need to be integrated throughout all forms of learning as a matter of course. The Association supported the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) which chimed with our own beliefs and 'seeks to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning, in order to address the social, economic, cultural and environmental problems we face in the 21st century'.
'Education for sustainable development aims to help people to develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others, now and in the future and to act upon these decisions'.
Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
The Association aims to be environmentally sustainable as an organisation and was an early signatory to the Third Sector Declaration on Climate Change which commits the ECA to a sustained, comprehensive and accountable response to the challenge of climate change whilst encouraging similar action amongst those it works with.
Our work on education for sustainable development involves both project and policy work.
Autumn Delight was a health related family workshop celebrating Apple Day, held after school on 24th October 2013 at Tuckswood Primary School, Norwich. The event also incorporated elements of learning for sustainable development and arts and crafts.
Activities on offer included a cookery demonstration on using apples in cooking, apple tasting of a wide range of varieties and apple inspired craft activities. An apple tree was planted in the school grounds.
Earlier in the day all school pupils had been given a ripe apple and a glass of apple juice given by a sponsor.
Everyone who attended the event was given a goodie bag to take home which included a recipe book based on the cookery demonstration and some family learning numeracy materials. Participants were also given apples to take home.
“Great time thank you”
“I liked it when they planted the tree. I liked tasting the apples”
“Lots of fun things for the children to do – my granddaughter and niece really enjoyed themselves. Lots of yummy treats to try”
Participant feedback examples
Family Learning Workshops - Art and Learning for Enivironmental Sustainability
The Association provided 4 family workshops in May 2013 at Tuckswood Primary School in Norwich which linked art and learning about enivronmental sustainability. These were divided into Herbs for Us (two linked sessions) and Nature Detectives (two linked sessions). All workshops were kindly sponsered by a donation from the John Jarrold Trust.
Herbs for Us
In the first workshop participants decorated plant pots and then planted herb seeds in them once they had dried. There was a display of fresh herbs that could be touched, smelt and tasted, so people could decide which herbs they would like to grow.
The second workshop focused on cooking with herbs using simple, healthy and low cost recipes. A cookery teacher demonstrated how to prepare the recipes; participants joined in and also tasted the food made. Everyone took home a specially created recipe book featuring the recipes used in the workshop and information on growing herbs.
“Looking forward to trying out the recipes at home”
Examples of participant feedback
During the first workshop families carried out a nature survey of the school site, learning about the plants and creatures that live there. There was also the opportunity to make a bird feeder out of a recycled plastic bottle which families could then take home with them.
In the second workshop participants took nature and plants / animals that they had found in the previous workshop as inspiration to create painted stones.
“I’d like to take part in more activities”
“It’s nice to have the opportunity to learn with my daughter"
Examples of participant feedback
Going Green for Gold
The Going Green for Gold project, which took place during 2012, was inspired by Norfollk's horticultural links to the Olympic Park in Stratford. Many of the plants at the venue were grown in Norfolk and the adult winner of the RHS competition to design the 'Great British Garden' on the Stratford site was former Norwich school pupil Rachel Read.
The project worked with communities in Norwich to developed horticultural skills and was awarded the Inspire Mark (an official London 2012 brand awarded to not-for-profit organisations for outstanding projects and events inspired by the London 2012 games).
The project was launched in February 2012 when Chris Collins, Horticulturist and BBC Blue Peter Gardener, visited schools in the project area to talk to pupils about gardening, growing food and attracting wildlife to gardens. Chris's visit helped to build on the children's enthusiasm and encourage them to take part in the project.
The project was also visited by Rachel Read on National Inspire Day, the 16th May, who shared her experiences of creating the garden.
Going Green for Gold "truly captures the spirit of 2012, with participants developing new skills specific to the project and many more transferable ones, to supporting new partnerships with other local organisations. It really embraces the values of the Olympics"
Joseph Ballard, London 2010 Inspire Programmer for the East of England
Norfolk Gardens and Green Spaces Festival 2012
The ECA organised 'Norfolk Gardens and Green Spaces Festival 2012' took place during the Olympic Torch Relay period in the UK, 18th May - 27th July.
The Festival helped celebrate the 'Greenest Olympics' by getting people out and about, exploring, exercising, learning about and using and relaxing in gardens and green spaces in the county. Featuring over 200 events, from a wide range of organisations it encouraged and enabled residents and visitors to explore less familiar parts of the county, to take part in events and enjoy gardens, parks, nature reserves and other green spaces. The festival also promoted Norfolk's outdoor green resources, which can be accessed all year round. It provided people with new ideas on how else they can use green spaces, introduced them to new vistas and additional areas in their own locality, as well as revealing some of the hidden gardens behind familiar shops and houses.
Events ranged from stargazing to a Jubilee Tea Dance, outdoor theatre and ghost walks, looking for peregrine falcons, garden history, many different guided walks, family activity days and the many open gardens in Norwich and Norfolk.
"Lovely brochure, clearly laid out and inviting, festival idea imaginative, must have been hard work"
"Festivals like this draw together many organisations and events help to promote the efforts of many people and organisations in Norfolk"
"Very pleased to be part of the festival"
Examples of feedback from organisations involved in the festival
Family Fun with Autumn Fruits
Family Fun with Autumn Fruits was a family learning event organised jointly by the ECA and the West Norwich Partnership as part of the Family Learning and Learning Revolution Festivals held in October 2009. Based in a community centre, it attracted local participants from the West Norwich area. The day was based around using seasonal fruit and vegetables to create simple meals and snacks, with demonstrations given by a professional chef. Other activities included blind tastings using fresh and dried fruit, herb smell 'a' thon and making grape animals. A representative from the Sustainable Living Initiative who run the Grow-Our-Own (GO2) scheme on a local allotment was present to give advice on growing food. To see the recipes and information booklet given out on the day please click here.
Every Action Counts
The ECA was a member of the Consortium delivering the Defra funded Every Action Counts project from 2006-2009. Every Action Counts encouraged and supported voluntary and community groups to take action to become more environmentally friendly. The project also recruited and trained individuals to act as 'Community Champions' and visit local groups to help them plan which actions they wanted to take. It also produced materials on different topics around sustainability for use by community development workers. The ECA's work on the project can be seen in greater detail by visiting the Every Action Counts page. To view Every Action Counts project resources visit our Every Action Counts Resources page.
"The ECA have taken the tools and resources provided by Every Action Counts and used them really effectively in engaging local individuals and local community groups"
Mark Walton, Head of Every Action Counts
Education for Sustainable Development Special Interest Group
The ECA is represented on NIACE's (now the Learning and Work Institute) Education for Sustainable Development Special Interest Group which was formed in the latter part of 2010. The purpose of the group is to: -
- Share information on and debate policy issues
- Provide a forum for discussion of ESD practice, issues and challenges
- Provide members with a voice in policy responses and in national provider groups
- Provide an opportunity for members to contribute perspectives on ESD to NIACE advocacy, development and research work.
Skills for Sustainable Growth Strategy
In its response to the Skills for Sustainable Growth Consultation in 2010, the ECA highlighted in its introduction that the document did not seem to address the need for learning around and raising levels of environmental awareness. By this we mean both the raising of skills needed in a 'green technology' job market and those needed to face the enduring challenges of resource depletion and environmental change by all the population. It was pleased to see that the resulting Skills for Sustainable Growth Strategy contained references to higher skills enabling people to become more environmentally friendly and to apprenticeships 'supporting a programme with wider social, environmental and economic value'. Although glad to see environmental awareness, the 'green agenda' is now located within the strategy the Association would like to have seen it addressed in more detail.
To see the ECA consultation response click here.
European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA)
In the build up to the 2009 EAEA General Assembly, the ECA acted as the co-ordinator for the on-line Climate Change Thematic Group to discuss approaches to addressing this topic through adult learning initiatives.
During the event the Association also initiated the production of a letter which stated the need to address issues around environmental sustainability through adult learning which could be presented at Confintea VI, the sixth International Conference on Adult Education, later that year in advance of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
Learning Revolution White Paper
The ECA believed that the consultation document 'Informal Adult Learning - Shaping the way ahead' which led to the Learning Revolution White Paper, launched in 2009, did not adequately address the importance of learning around environmental issues. The Association responded to this by organising 'The Environment as an Informal Adult Learning Issue' conference to help discuss and formulate consultation responses. The conference, which took place in May 2008, was endorsed by Joan Ruddock MP (then Minister for Climate Change, Biodiversity and Waste) and featured keynote speaker David Lammy MP (then Minister of Skills at DIUS). There was a range of speakers with backgrounds in adult education and/or environmental sustainability and the event was well received by delegates.
Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning
In 2008 the ECA submitted evidence to the Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning under the theme of sustainable development.
The inquiry, sponsored by NIACE, asked experts from government, business, academia, trade unions, trade unions, public service providers, voluntary and community sector and learners to identify a broad consensus for the future direction of adult learning policy in the UK.
To read the ECA submission click here.
Defra Third Sector Strategy
The ECA formulated a considered response to 'A Defra Third Sector Strategy - a consultation on emerging issues and options' in 2008. The consultation led to the publication of Defra's Third Sector Strategy signalling the Department's commitment to working with the third sector.
The ECA were represented at the launch event for 'Shaping our Future: the joint ministerial and third sector Task Force on climate change, the environment and sustainable development' report.