Environmental Studies

Our Journey

Environmental Studies >> Our Journey

Our journey

We commenced our Sustainable Schools journey back in the early 2000’s. A focus on environmental issues and sustainable practices had already rekindled via implementation of the Science In Schools Project (SiS).  Initially partnerships were developed with CERES, Nillumbik Council and Edendale Farm and the process of attaining milestones using expert advice, grant funding and support of the school and wider community began. Working together, and with the assistance of grants, we fulfilled the requirements for the Energy, Water, Waste and Biodiversity.
We also commenced the transition to Resource Smart Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI Vic). Based on our past and current performance, our sustainability status was then aligned by CERES and Sustainability Victoria to the 5 Star Sustainability criteria  acknowledging our past achievements.  Our school qualified to become 4 Star "Leadership" certified in the then current 5 Star Sustainability Certification - acknowledging the completion of the AUSSI Vic Core Module and four other Resource Modules to qualify for this certification. This program enables students to engage in a diverse range of learning experiences to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours to make informed decisions about their impact on the environment. We won the Energy Smart Schools Award 2007 for Victoria and were a finalist in 2008.  Students presented an overview of our achievements at the MCG.
The key activities that led to the schools achieving 5-star sustainability certification include:Core aim to develop lifelong sustainable practicesEducational, practical and community activitiesLeadership training to empower pupils to lead, educate and motivate their peers On 24 May 2011, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, The Hon Ryan Smith MP, announced in a media release, that Eltham North Primary School was one the first recipients of the Resource Smart Schools program five-star sustainability certification awards.” “By achieving this rating, these schools have demonstrated significant leadership in their communities. “Each school has found creative and efficient ways to integrate waste, water, energy and biodiversity initiatives into their everyday actions,” Mr Smith said.

On 21st November Hon Jan Kronberg MLC presented the award at the school assembly. The key activities that led to the schools achieving 5-star sustainability certification included:

Leadership training to empower pupils to lead, educate and motivate their peers

  • Core aim to develop lifelong sustainable practices
  • Leadership training to empower pupils to lead, educate and motivate their peers
  • Educational, practical and community activities
We celebrate this achievement and continue our Resource Smart journey by remaining connected with other schools through sustainability networks. Communication in many forms (presentations, murals, signage, photo’s, assemblies, PD sessions, website articles) is an essential element of this program.
The sustainable schools program challenges and engages teachers and students to grow as passionate learners and leaders who are connected and motivated, demonstrating practical change to school operations and life long behavioural change in using resources more wisely. Being a 5 Star Sustainable school also provides opportunities for our students lead in their own school and inspire others in the wider community.

Some of the initiatives completed over time include....

  • A SS School Improvement Team implements a yearly action plan, organises events and reviews our practices and activities.
  • Planning and presentations for Resource Smart, Water LILI, Kids Teaching Kids conferences
  • School program incorporates SS modules in units of work, resources include interactive websites
  • Outdoor education zone created by parents - Landscaping Community project
  • First water LILI school to achieve gold status in Yarra Valley Water
  • Continuing to take up initiatives like: Carbon Sinks, Greenhouse Games Challenge, Tree project
  • Displays with messages, definitions and facts created that highlight SS information
  • Greenhouse installed for propagation / planting
  • Habitat garden for the Eltham Copper Butterfly
  • Liaising with local organisations.Whole school, multi-age activity days, based around Waste, Energy, Biodiversity and Water, are implemented.
  • Flow control efficiency devices on all taps
  • Installation of skylights
  • Buckets under taps connected to garden beds
  • Renewed and upgraded school power supply/board systems
  • Initially 4,500 & 22,500 litre tanks installed- resulted in 25% reduction in mains water use.
  • Piloted various interactive program, e.g. ’Sustainable Household Challenge’
  • Worm farms, compost bins set up for organic food waste
  • Installation of an efficient power consumption system that reduces lights by 10%
  • Information disseminated to the wider community via website
  • SS built into Start up program at the start of every school year.
  • Healthy Eating Schools Program incorporated into SS program
  • Partnership with Edendale Farm – Edible food
  • The school demonstration of garden project to students from other local schools
  • School website is used to communicate Sustainable School practices and provides links to relevant websites.
  • Parent engagement in lunchtime programs and whole school days landscaping projects
  • Various Resource Smart achievements and awards
  • Vegetable garden boxes created in 3/4 and 5/6 area
  • Four SS lunchtime programs in operation – Environmental leaders, Growing, Creating and Cooking clubs.
  • Networking through TEN (environmental teacher’s network)
  • Ongoing creation of display murals
  • Environmental leaders engage in leadership programs, Sustainable School activities and create signage.
  • Additional water tanks to supply staff toilets, greenhouse and toilets
  • Fluorescent lights replaced be tri-phosphorous tubes
  • Installation / upgrade of dual-flush cisterns and flow control devices in toilets
  • Solar film on windows in buildings
  • Rubbish Free lunch days led to waste free school policy
  • Participation in Clean Up Australia school events annually.
  • Continued reduction of energy via specifically designed monitoring device that reduces power needs for lighting by 30 %..
Benefits from these initiatives have been many and varied including: annual 10% reduction in most areas of measurable outcomes monitored via SETs, and the provision of many opportunities for our students and school community. As our school population has risen, we have addressed a number of challenges: providing extra facilities, increased demand, including: computer usage, interactive whiteboards, extra classrooms, installation of air conditioning and the impact of our building projects. Our auditing processes (SETs) indicates that our practices and ongoing improvements are compensating for increased demand.  Our challenge now is to explore opportunities to continue further reductions in Waste, Water, Energy throughout the school and creating and engaging in opportunities to increase Biodiversity in and beyond the school environment – in other words to embrace challenges positively to create lifelong sustainable learning and environmentally sound outcomes.