Seven-step Process in Detail
Step 1: Form an Eco-CommitteeThe Eco Committee is the driving force of the Eco-Schools programme. Forming your own committee is the first step towards becoming an eco-school.
An ideal committee will not just represent the whole school, but could also account for the views of the wider community. Pupils should form the core of the committee, but in addition, teachers, parents, and representatives from external partner organisations, should also sit in the committee.
Step 2: Conduct an Environmental ReviewAn Environmental Review is an audit of your school, covering the Eco-Schools themes in reasonable depth, plus a number of other areas. Your Environmental Review is designed to give a realistic picture of your school’s current environmental performance. It should tell you what you’re doing well and what you might need to work on. The Environmental Review informs your Action Plan, helping your school to decide what changes are necessary and how urgently the changes are required.
A sample Environmental Review Checklist will be made available to registered schools.
Step 3: Develop an Action PlanAfter completing the environmental review, the Eco-School committee can proceed to the next step in the Eco-School process: developing an action plan.
The data gathered from the environmental review will highlight the environmental issues that the school needs to address. The Eco-Committee will now need to go through and prioritize these environmental concerns.
The action plan consists of a series of timetabled targets aimed at achieving goals identified by the environmental review. The action plan should identify deadlines, persons responsible for the actions and (if possible) how the actions are related to the curriculum.
An Action Plan Template will be made available to registered schools.
Step 4: Monitor & EvaluateCareful monitoring and measuring of your actions ensure that the targets outlined in the action plan are being properly addressed and achieved. Besides providing feedback about the effectiveness of the actions, monitoring allows the Eco-School committee to critically evaluate the strategy being adopted and identify possible alternative ways of proceeding.
Actively involving pupils in the monitoring process helps them develop responsibility and a sense of ownership of the whole project. This implies that the monitoring instruments chosen (or designed) should take into account the pupil’s age-group and ability. The choice of monitoring methodologies is also dependent on the type of information that needs to be gathered.
One of the most important aspects of the monitoring exercise is evaluation. After the data is gathered, the Eco-School committee needs to go through the aims of the action plan and decide:
- whether the activities are successful,
- what alternative actions need to be taken to be more effective, and
- what new actions need to be taken to address emergent needs.
Step 5: Link to CurriculumBesides raising the status of the programme, linking Eco-Schools activities to the curriculum ensures that programme is truly integrated within the school community. The general strategy suggested is that of infusing environmental education concepts into the already existing subjects and not that of presenting a new subject. Besides increasing the level awareness about the environment, weaving an environmental education dimension into a particular subject enriches the subject concerned and thus makes it more relevant and interesting.
This infusion need not be a laborious task. The amount of linking is dependent on how the curriculum is structured and on the teachers’ willingness to engage in this initiative. Teachers might introduce environmental education principles through incidental teaching or even through planned systematic teaching aimed at covering a particular aspect of the curriculum.
Step 6: Inform and involveOne of the essential components of the Eco-Schools process is the dissemination of the activities throughout the school, the pupils’ homes and the community at large. The idea is to inform as many individuals as possible about Eco-Schools and to actively involve them in the process so that they can benefit from its messages.
Involving the wider community does not just serve to publicise to the school’s initiatives, but also brings a range of other benefits. Parents, local businesses and local councils can be sources of advice, information, practical help and even money—all of which are essential for the success of the programme.
Step 7: Draw up an Eco-CodeThe Eco-Code is your school’s mission statement and an expression of its commitment towards improving its environmental performance. It should reflect the main actions that the school community has agreed to adopt. The Eco-Code is usually presented in a clear and imaginative way and displayed in a prominent place in the school.
The active role of the pupils in choosing the right wording and the design of the Eco-Code should be central. This will ensure that they understand the values and responsibility implicit in this document. Civics or Pastoral Care classes present an ideal setting for pupils to explore their responsibility in maintaining the school’s environmental values.
The Eco-Code will need to be updated annually as new environmental issues emerge and are addressed by the school community.