Spotlight on Sustainability at Westgarth Primary School

The Westgarth Primary School community is made up of passionate staff, students, parents and friends who have demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental education and sustainable living practices.

Our school has a strong partnership with CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) and we hold memberships with both SETS (School Energy Tracking Systems) and SWEP (School Water Efficiency Program). We draw on this enthusiasm and knowledge to promote and implement water-wise usage, waste minimisation, composting, recycling, reusing, up-cycling, ‘green’ travel to school, regeneration of indigenous plants and grasses, improved biodiversity and student-driven environmental actions.

The primary objectives of Education for Sustainability (EfS) at Westgarth Primary School are to:

  • Ensure that Education for Sustainability is embedded in the students’ learning for the duration of their schooling, by incorporating sustainability into our Discovery units and other curriculum areas such as Music and Kitchen Garden. This learning is supported by excursions and in-house activities such as excursions to CERES or Wild Action coming to visit.
  • Establish sustainability practices into the daily routines of both staff and students.

As part of our commitment to EfS, each year, every student from Prep through to Year 6 undertakes a sustainability unit of learning, discovery and action. Examples of Discovery topics undertaken by students in 2013 include :

  • Prep students investigating “How does your garden grow?”
  • Year 1 and 2 students undertaking an inquiry titled What a Load of Rubbish!
  • Year 3-4 students looking at “Endangered Animals”; and
  • Year 5/6 students examining Natural Disasters (Extreme Weather).

Teachers at Westgarth Primary School engage students and stimulate their natural curiosity in environmental issues. Through this increased sense of empathy and appreciation of nature our students feel compelled to question the role they play in helping to sustain our planet. From this questioning, the students and teachers investigate the challenges at hand and investigate possible solutions. We work towards empowering our students and staff to work individually and collectively towards finding solutions to improve or protect the environment.

Every Discovery topic undertaken by students has associated actions. Actions that have resulted as part of students’ discoveries vary from those targeted at local to global issues. During 2013 students planted native grasses to attract indigenous butterflies while others planted organic edibles to reduce food miles. One team of students organised the installation of a downpipe water diverter into garden beds, plants were also purchased for indoor learning spaces to clean the air, while some students promoted eco-friendly causes such as cycling to school, ‘nude food’, the use of recycled toilet paper and the recycling of mobile phones.

The core goal of Sustainability Education at Westgarth Primary School is for our students to take ‘responsibility to care for and respect their environment’. In preparing students for life after primary school, we aim to ensure that all students develop a lifelong responsibility towards their environment, a responsibility that does not finish at the gates of Westgarth Primary School but, rather, continues for the remainder of their lives.