#ESDinFE - Ensuring teachers and trainers in the Further Education and Training sector have the resources, skills and knowledge required to train those moving into jobs that will support green growth is vital.

That was the message to the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into Green Jobs from Education and Training Foundation (@E_T_Foundation) Head of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Charlotte Bonner, when she gave evidence to it at the beginning of March (2021).

Responding to questions about how the education system can be enabled to rise to the green growth challenge, she underlined the vital role of the sector’s workforce and ensuring it is properly supported.

“Investing in teachers is always taken for granted – you see huge policy documents about green jobs where this isn’t mentioned – but it is the biggest lever of change” Charlotte argued.

She also stressed that education for sustainable development (ESD) should be seen as a central pillar of the education system, rather than a specialism for just a few subject areas.

“There’s a difference between education about sustainable development and education for sustainable development” she said.

“Both are important – the former helps develop specialists in sustainability – but we also need the latter, ensuring that all learners have the knowledge, skills, values and attributes to create a more just and sustainable world.”

“This is not to say that all learners should have an expert knowledge of all the areas of sustainable development, but instead that learners have sustainable development knowledge, skills, values and attributes as a core competency and they understand how their subject area – whether that be law, marketing, construction or social care – interrelates with sustainable development and can contribute to the realisation of sustainability goals, and, vitally, that learners have the values and agency required to act upon that knowledge.”

The session also looked at how to strengthen the partnership between the education sector and business to support green jobs, how different parts of the education system could collaborate to develop sustainability skills, and how both the urgency and demand for green jobs means action is needed as soon as possible.

Also giving evidence were Meg Baker of Students Organising for Sustainability, Lee Jowett of Leicester City Council, Iain Patton of the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges, and Graham Petersen of the Greener Jobs Alliance. The session is available to view on the Parliament website. The ETF’s written evidence to the inquiry was published in January.

Unlike most select committees, the Environmental Audit Committee’s remit cuts across government rather than focusing on the work of a particular department. It considers the extent to which the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development and audits their performance against sustainable development and environmental protection targets.

The ETF recognises the vital role the Further Education and Training sector has to play in combating climate change and achieving sustainability and social justice both nationally and globally, and is developing initiatives to help support its adoption of ESD to enhance teaching, learning, assessment and leadership. 

Education for sustainable development (ESD) 

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) recognises the vital role the Further Education (FE) and Training sector has to play in combating climate change and achieving sustainability and social justice both nationally and globally.

We are currently developing our strategy and initiatives to help support the sector’s adoption of education for sustainable development (ESD) to enhance teaching, learning, assessment and leadership.

Areas in development include:

  • Embedding ESD across our CPD portfolio
  • Designing new specialist ESD programmes
  • Working strategically with the sector and industry, engaging with ESD trailblazers and experts both in the UK and internationally to ensure we are at the forefront of change
  • Regularly reviewing our ESD work enabling us to work in line with the latest thinking and evidence
  • Understanding, scrutinising and improving our own organisation’s sustainability impacts.

The ETF launch survey to understand sustainability in FE 

8 Feb 2021: The Education and Training Foundation launched a survey asking the Further Education (FE) and Training sector workforce to offer their experiences and knowledge on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

ESD promotes the development of the knowledge, skills, understanding, values and actions required to create a sustainable world, which ensures environmental protection and conservation, social equity and economic sustainability.

ESD 2020

What is Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)?

“ESD empowers learners with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to take informed decisions and make responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and a just society empowering people of all genders, for present and future generations, while respecting cultural diversity.

"ESD is a lifelong learning process and an integral part of quality education that enhances cognitive, social and emotional and behavioural dimensions of learning. It is holistic and transformational and encompasses learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and the learning environment itself.

"ESD is recognised as a key enabler of all SDGs and achieves its purpose by transforming society”.

The survey, which closed on 28 February 2021, took less than 10 minutes to complete.

Questions were based on the below themes:

  • Your opinions about sustainability and education
  • ESD and your learners
  • ESD and your work
  • Organisational ESD approaches
  • Training and CPD.

Charlotte Bonner, National Head of Sustainable Development at the Education and Training Foundation said,

“The FE and skills sector has a critical role to play in combatting climate change and achieving broader sustainability goals. We know that many colleagues across the sector want support to be able to equip their learners with the knowledge and competencies needed to meet these goals.

"Through this research we want to better understand your opinions, the barriers, the opportunities and how we can help. This in turn will inform our approach and ensure we are best serving the sector’s needs.”

"The survey findings will help to help shape the ETF’s ESD work and give us valuable insights to ensure we are best serving the sector’s needs."

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