30 ONLINE 25 B, Whole-institution approaches in ESE
MeetingID: 841 0226 6572 Code: KCAB0q
The Erasmus+ project presented here investigates how secondary schools can identify, reflect on, and expand their existing ESD activities through self-assessment. The roadmap 2030 to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is introduced by the meaningful statement “For our very own survival, we must learn to live together sustainably on this planet. We must change the way we think and act as individuals and societies. So, in turn, education must change to create a peaceful and sustainable world for the survival and prosperity of current and future generations.“ (Giannini, 2020). Understanding quality education as a foundation to create sustainable development, it has been included among the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDG) as the second target and has been confirmed and implemented in the Sustainability Developments Goals (SDGs) of the Agenda 2030 (UN General Assembly, 2015). Education can help equip people with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes required for developing innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems (UNESCO 2020). In terms of education, the key question is what has to be learned and how that learning is to happen. Since ESD aims to empower all people to act as "change agents" (UNESCO 2020, 2021), the teaching and learning of the younger generation in particular must enable the acquisition of specific key competencies that will have a decisive impact on the sustainable development of society as a whole (Rieckmann, 2018; UNESCO, 2017). Ways and progress in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) differs from school to school, at the country level, and internationally, which entails a need to design effective methods and tools to evaluate schools’ sustainability and identify areas for improvement (Mogren and Gericke, 2017a, 2017b; Mogren, Gericke and Scherp 2019; Verhelst, Vanhoof and van Petegem, 2021). By providing a multilingual tool called 'JUMP into a sustainable lifestyle', the project’s consortium with partners from Lithuania (lead), Estonia, Germany and Scotland aims to support sustainable school development based on a digital platform. Applying a whole-school approach, the instrument shall enable secondary schools to involve teachers, students beside school management to identify by an internal evaluation what has already been achieved and to reflect what is potentially achievable, as well as to enter into dialogue in order to develop a renewed vision. To develop such a tool, we ask how schools can be supported by a self-assessment tool in their ESD transformation processes in the sense of the Whole School Approach. Questions that guided the concept development, structure and design of the first draft of the instrument were: (a) How are English-language assessment templates for educational institutions structured? (b) What components are needed for an assessment framework that fully complies with the whole-school approach? (c) From the users' point of view, how well do the structure and design of the developed jump-self-assessment framework support practice-based engagement with the whole-school approach?
Given that the necessary transformation of educational institutions can only succeed if a curricular reorientation is accompanied by a comprehensive approach that encompasses the entire school life, we took into account the integration of the school into its environment as well as its embeddedness into the wider societal and global living conditions. Furthermore, with a view to healthy and sustainable development, we assume, “quality in education is not to be seen as a definable end-state but as a commitment throughout the system to a continuous process (Nikel, Lowe 2010, 600) in which the school’s context, methods, and procedures change continuously.” (Mogren, Gericke 2017). Our project aims to facilitate a fundamental redirection of school education at the institutional level by helping schools to collaboratively envision and initiate change in real life.
The project addresses the following research question: How can school ESD transformation processes in the sense of the Whole School Approach be supported by an assessment tool? At the beginning of 2021, we identified frameworks already used in particular countries or networks for designing or evaluating ESD at school level, usually published in English. All frameworks became part of a document analysis. The project partners agreed on a common understanding of ESD, including the creation of a glossary, which was used to guide the creation of the assessment tool. By a comparison and adaption to the UNESCO conception of ESD (UNESCO, 2017, 2020; UNESCO Executive Board, 2019) and in the service of pursuing and achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (UN, 2015), the ‘JUMP into sustainable development assessment framework’ was developed in an interdisciplinary and transnational collaborative effort. In three countries (Lithuania, Germany, Scotland), one to two online focus groups were conducted with up to nine teachers, in one German focus group additionally with the participation of a student. In Estonia, one-on-one interviews were conducted, in order to subject the concept for the framework to initial testing by teachers and students. The assessment framework was further developed based on the empirical results. Subsequently, the pilot of the self-assessment framework will be online available in the official languages of the participating countries and will get tested by 20 schools of the four partner countries that have been involved in its development so far. Further optimization and completion of the platform will be based on feedback, a quantitative user survey, and qualitative verbal or written user comments. Lastly, the project consortium aims to inform at least 1000 schools and to get at least 150 schools to use the platform in Europe and elsewhere. As intended for ESD, we do not focus solely on teaching but apply a holistic whole institution approach (Grundmann, 2017; UNESCO, 2014). Focusing holistically on the entire school means to examine school management, leadership as well as provided school infrastructure, the understanding of values and the further development of teaching in the sense of a transformative pedagogy. Equally important is the inclusion of all those working in and for the school, as well as parents and external partners who, for example, bring their expertise to the school or open themselves up to the community through cooperation for student activities and thus enable applied learning (Rieckmann, 2018).
We found 14 frameworks, published in English and used in Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, United Kingdom and the United States or in networks, namely Eco Schools, ASPnet, Sustainable School Alliance, ENSI, ECORoad, to help improve the quality of school ESD. All frameworks found were included in our analysis. Based on the reviews of existing assessment frameworks for ESD in schools on the one hand and the findings from the focus groups on the other hand, the JUMP into a sustainable lifestyle self-assessment framework was designed. Insights from the user perspective helped us to make it an accepted and potentially relevant tool in different countries and school contexts. The new digital instrument includes eight components and covers areas of SDGs and Learning Experiences, addressed to students (aged 15 to 19); Curriculum and ESD Competencies addressed to teachers (based on Milican, 2022), Partnerships addressed to teachers and administration and Infrastructure and Governance addressed solely to administration. ESD Competencies include questions for teachers such as "I am able to analyze and look for causes of social and environmental change from different perspectives", for school management or teachers in the field of partnerships such as "Our school/class plays an important role in the life of the community, leading to an improved sense of community in relation to the SDGs", to students "I feel that everyone is free to contribute ideas or suggestions". This implementation distinguishes it from instruments of external evaluation, which might refer mainly to the level of school organization or exclusively to student assessment (Kater-Wettstädt, Niemann, 2019). Via multiplier events in the project countries, we introduce the self-assessment-framework. Via various ESD networks we reach out to school communities in additional regions and countries. To achieve a long-lasting use, we maintain the internet platform beyond the project duration.
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