30 SES 01, Conceptual Work on ESD from a School Improvement Perspective
This symposium places Education for Sustainable Development ( ESD) within the field of school improvement theory and research. In a number of studies, the Whole school approach in ESD is suggested and referred to as the work of embedding ESD into existing school visions and action plans (Breiting, Mayer & Mogensen 2005 “Quality Criteria for ESD-schools”; Hargreaves 2008; Scott 2013.) The symposium therefore focuses on how the research field of school improvement – which investigates, how efforts to help schools become increasingly effective learning environments for the full range of their students have been more or less successful – might inform and challenge ESD and the ESD the Whole school approach.
If ESD is to be framed and studied from a “within perspective” as an ongoing school improvement process rather than as an add-on activity to existing organisational arrangements and educational practices, it is necessary to discuss models of school improvement in terms of their contribution to ESD. It is also important to identify models of school improvement that can identify drivers and barriers for ESD implementation at organisational level as well as on teaching and learning level (see Scherp 2013; Reezigt & Creemers 2005 “Comprehensive framework for effective school improvement” ; Rolff 2010 “Trias of school development”; Rolff 2002 “Pädagogische Qualitätsmanagement (PQM)”.
In school improvement theory, a school’s organisation is commonly understood as reflexive in relation to context and supportive to the action of all members of the school community and their cooperation. Further, research suggests there are basic mechanisms contributing to effective school improvement such as goal setting for improvement, pressures to improve, cyclical improvement processes and autonomy (see Scheerens & Demeuse 2005). Further, the school culture ought to be build up on dialogue supported by school leadership. By this definition of school organisation, school improvement refers to collectively supporting factors in the organisation, to the end that students’ possibilities for learning in relation to a complex surrounding world are enhanced.
The recognition of multiple perspectives within the school organisation, e.g. cultural, structural, political and transformational is central in investing possible models of school improvement. The search for school improvement models that can discern those perspectives that are closely linked to ESD is crucial. Such models of school improvement have the potential to constitute the link between the research fields of ESD and school improvement. They could serve as a tool for further research on how the Whole school approach is constructed in formal education, which is searched for in the practical work on ESD implementation.
In this symposium examples from ongoing research projects on ESD where models of school improvement are used, considered or asked for in a German, Swedish and Hungarian context are presented. The symposium will explore the potential of integrating, adapting and rejecting theoretical perspectives and empirical evidence from school improvement into the ESD research field through intention papers with the goal of developing knowledge about
- how selected conceptual work on the Whole school approach in ESD draw on models and perspectives from school improvement theory,
- how in an empirical case study a school improvement model was used to measure the ESD Whole school approach,
- how school improvement has informed efforts and plan for upscaling ESD implementation in Eco-Schools to a larger number of public schools.
Following questions from the audience, Arjen Wals (Wageningen University, The Netherlands & Gothenburg University, Sweden) will draw together the discussion and to explore implications for research in ESD.
Reezigt, G. J. & Creemers, B.P.M, 2005. A comprehensive framework for effective school improvement. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 16:4, 407-424. Breiting, S., & M. Mayer, F. Mogensen, 2005. Quality Criteria for ESD-schools: Guidelines to Enhance the Quality of Education for Sustainable Development. Vienna: Stollfuß Verlag Hargreaves, L., 2008. The whole-school approach to education for sustainable development: from pilot projects to systemic change. Policy & Practice-A Development Education Review, (6): 69-74. Scherp, H., 2013 a. Lärandebaserad Skolutveckling. Lärglädjens Förutsättningar, Förverkligande och Resultat. [Learning Based School Development. The Joy of Learning, Conditions, Implementation and Results]. Lund: Studentlitteratur. Scott, W., 2013. Developing the sustainable school: Thinking the issues through. The Curriculum Journal 24:2, 181-205. Scheerens , J. & Demeuse, M., 2005. The theoretical basis of the effective school improvement model (ESI). School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 16:4, 373-385.
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