The Eco-Schools philosophy
Eco-Schools is a program for schools that work with students to think and act sustainably. They take steps with their head, heart and hands to give sustainability a permanent place in the school. Pupils are invited to take action and experience the contribution they can make to a sustainable society. They discover their values, interests and talents. In this way, sustainable thinking and doing gradually becomes self-evident!
The Eco-Schools philosophy consists of five pillars:
- Pupils take center stage (pupils focus point)
- The school always takes sustainable steps - large or small (process)
- Sustainability has a permanent place in education (education)
- Sustainability is visible in the building and the surroundings (building)
- Everyone in and around the school participates (community)
Eco-teams in motion
Students are the main focus point, therefore they are the heart of the Eco team. This is a group of students who make the school sustainable from the inside out. Together they give substance to the Eco-Schools motto: student-led change. They are supported in this by adults, such as teachers and the concierge. Other people within and outside the school can also be involved.
Eco-Schools’ seven step plan helps the Eco-team getting started. The figure below shows all steps. Step 2, 3 and 4 form a cycle of measuring, planning and evaluating which the Eco-team runs by annually. Students execute an environmental review within the school and carry out actions to make the education, the building and the community in and around the school more sustainable.
With this approach, the Eco-team gives substance to the process at school. In doing so, students work to develop important 21e century skills such as communication, collaboration, problem solving and creative thinking.
The green flag
Schools that actively work on the five pillars, are eligible for the Green flag. This is the international accreditation for sustainable schools. Raising the flag is a festive moment! The students and teachers are in the spotlight, while the parents, neighborhood and local parties enjoy the event. It takes more or less two years to obtain the Green Flag. Throughout a portfolio the Eco-team is able to present what they have accomplished. In order to preserve the Green Flag, the school has to keep on developing. Every two years a new accreditation takes place.
Eco-schools focuses on ten different topics. With the Eco-scan , the Eco-team maps out how the school is doing in terms of sustainability for all themes.
Choose your focus
Based on the baseline measurement and student’s interest, you, as an Eco-team choose which (two or three) topics you will take up first. Choose topics that complement each other, they are incredibly intertwined! The chosen topics will form the basis for your action plan.