Environmental awareness and Ecoschools

At the core of all tasks undertaken by Sustainable Development, is the need to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Most young people care deeply about environmental issues. They want to help, but knowing what to do is not always easy. Eco Schools could be the answer.

The Eco Schools programme is an international initiative designed to encourage whole-school action for the environment. It is a recognised award scheme that accredits schools who make a commitment to continuously improve their environmental performance. It is also a learning resource that raises awareness of environmental and sustainable development issues throughout activities linked to curricular subjects and areas.

The aim of the Eco Schools programme is to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of the life and ethos of the school for both pupils and for staff and to engage the wider community.

The Eco Schools programme can help schools to:

  • Improve the school's environment
  • Reduce litter and waste
  • Reduce energy and water use
  • Devise efficient was of travelling to and from school
  • Promote healthy lifestyles
  • Encourage active citizenship
  • Build strong partnerships with a variety of community groups
  • Develop international and global links

Where did the programme come from?

It was at the UN Conference on Environment & Development (Rio Earth Summit) in 1992 that a need to involve young people in finding solutions to environmental and sustainable development challenges at a local level,was identified.

As a result, the Eco Schools programme was developed in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education(FEE) and introduced into the UK, including Scotland, in 1995.

There are now 41 countries throughout Europe and Africa involved in Eco Schools and there is also much interest beyond, such as in New Zealand, South America and China. The United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) is also very supportive of the programme and is an institutional partner of FEE, as is the Scottish Government Education Department(SEED).

What's in it for schools?

Recognition and publicity

The Eco Schools programme leads to the prestigious international environmental award - the Green Flag. It shows that a school is committed to the highest standards in environmental education and management – something to celebrate and be proud of.

Money and savings

The programme provides guidance about saving energy, reducing waste and implementing recycling schemes, all of which can add up to direct and long-term savings for schools.

Links to the curriculum

Managing a school’s environmental performance requires knowledge and skills that relate directly to Scottish curricular requirements for ages 3 to 18. The programme provides numerous opportunities to link the Eco Schools process and activities to a wide range of curriculum subjects and areas: in particular environmental studies, personal and social education, health and citizenship, as well as other initiatives such as Enterprise. Involvement will also highlight links to How Good is Our School.

National Priority Four: Values and Citizenship

Participation in the Eco Schools programme is also a performance measure for one of the Scottish Government Education Department’s national priorities in education.

Local authorities must report on ‘the number/ percentage of primary and secondary schools within their area that are participating in the Eco Schools award or similar accredited environmental award’.

Each authority will make schools aware of the local strategy being put in place to progress this measure.