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Global Challenge and Alastair MacDonald
What do we understand by the term ‘global sustainability’? Perhaps ‘all people throughout the world satisfying their basic needs and enjoying a better quality of life, without compromising the quality of life of future generations’.
Recently a group of A-level students and teachers from several schools across the Bay had the opportunity to find out more at the first of this season’s scheduled programme of lectures organised by the South Devon Geographical Association. The presentation, entitled ‘Sharing the Global Challenges’, was given by Tom Jolly of GlobalEd and focussed on the essential part education must play in order to achieve global sustainability. With the current Government initiative of ‘Sustainable Schools’ being so topical Tom Jolly was guardedly optimistic that with the right leader- ship and correctly targeted resources, schools in the UK could meet the goal of sustainability by
the target date of 2020; namely that:
• All schools are model suppliers of healthy, local and sustainable food and drink
• All schools are models of energy efficiency, renewable energy use and water management
• All schools are models of sustainable travel
• All schools are models of waste minimisation and sustainable procurement
• All school buildings make visible use of sustainable design features and develop their grounds in ways that help pupils learn about the natural world and sustainable living
• All schools are models of social inclusion, enabling all pupils to participate fully in school life
• All schools are models of good corporate citizenship within their local area
• All schools are models of good global citizenship.
It is easy to see how, with such a concerted focus, schools will be able to help pupils understand man’s impact on the planet, and become places where sustainable living and working is demonstrated to young people and the community. However, when it comes to developing countries Tom Jolly was less optimistic. His experience gained from over ten years working with the educational communities in Peru has given him a unique insight into the problems to be over- come. The lack of adequate funding and sometimes the focus on more outmoded teaching techniques makes it difficult enough maintaining basic levels of attainment in core subjects such as mathematics without the additional ‘burden’ of teaching sustainable practices.
The big challenge will be to establish ‘mechanisms’ that will enable the formal education sector in all countries to achieve the same targets. A possible solution put forward by Professor Jolly is based on a ‘Partnership’ model where, through ‘School Linking’ we share best practice with schools and educational centres in developing countries. Already these ties are being implemented between primary schools in Torbay and Cusco, Peru.
The days when schools moved in a competitive market are long gone. We appreciate the value to be gained from local schools working more closely together. Now there is a global dimension, and the opportunity for all schools to be models of good global citizenship, improving the lives of people living in other parts of the world while enriching our own educational experience.
For information on GlobalEd visit
For details of further lectures organised by the South Devon Geographical Association please visit www.geography.org.uk
Visit by Alastair MacDonald (former BBC Correspondent)
On the 30th November, Alastair MacDonald (former BBC Environment Correspondent) visited our school. He spoke to all of the lower school during an extended assembly, looking at the issues surrounding climate change. He told students about a very interesting Cheshire village called Ashton Hayes which is aiming for carbon neutrality. This village has been so successful in reducing its carbon emissions that each week approximately 5 film crews from around the world visit to report on their ideas and initiatives.
Alastair also visited two Year 12 Geography classes to discuss environmental issues and gave students a quiz to fill in to look at their own carbon footprint.
He took part in a Year 9 Citizenship class where he was bombarded with questions. The Year 9 class came up with their ideas to make our school sustainable. These were then followed up by two Year 12 classes on Monday. He finished the day by visiting a Year 13 Geography class where he looked at ‘big picture’ environmental issues - this is an important area of the Year 13 specification and relevant to the synopticity aspect of the course.
Mrs T L Davison (Head of Geography)