The Enviroschools Programme is a whole school approach to learning where students plan, design and create a sustainable school with the support of their community. The programme was designed with primary and intermediate schools and is now being adapted by secondary schools and early childhood providers. By becoming an enviroschool your school can benefit from improved classroom and outdoor surroundings, improved efficiency in the day-to-day running of your school, improved school management and better relations between staff, students and your school’s community.
On this page: What are enviroschools?, benefits of being an enviroschool, become an enviroschool
What are enviroschools?
Environmental education is an action-focused approach to learning that uses the physical, social, cultural and political aspects of our environment.
Enviroschools are based on the principle of sustainability. Sustainability is a way of being and acting that nurtures people and nature, now and in the future.
The Enviroschools Programme is designed for primary, intermediate and secondary schools. It aims to integrate environmental education into the whole of school life. Students are able to take part in planning, designing and changing the school’s environment to make it a healthy, stimulating and sustainable place. Students are empowered to become active environmental citizens for life.
Enviroschools work within the curriculum framework and Guidelines for Environmental Education to make learning a practical and fun experience. There is no fixed formula for being an enviroschool, rather there are the following key values and concepts:
- a sense of place – the whole school environment is a learning resource
- a participatory environment – involving the whole school community, including students, teachers, caretakers, boards of trustees, families / whanau and the wider community
- a sense of purpose – students are inspired to create a healthy, peaceful and sustainable school.
Check out the Enviroschools website for further information about the programme. You can also keep up-to-date and informed with the latest Waikato Enviroschools newsletters and resources.
Benefits of being an enviroschool
By becoming an enviroschool your whole school environment can become an ongoing learning resource.
Your school can benefit from:
- improved physical surroundings – both inside and out
- improved efficiency in the day-to-day running of your school
- improved school management
- better relations between staff, students and your school’s community
- a more meaningful and ‘living’ curriculum.
An enviroschool is only limited by your imagination.
Enviroschools can benefit from improved physical surroundings, inside the classroom and outdoors.
Careful planning and design of a school’s physical surroundings ensures:
- classrooms are healthy and environmentally friendly
- waste is recycled and composted as much as possible
- the school incorporates and is in harmony with local ecosystems and wildlife
- the school’s environment recognises and preserves significant landmarks.
Day-to-day running of your school
The day-to-day running of an enviroschool can benefit from:
- reduced waste and the creation of ways to reuse and recycle waste
- reduced use of energy, water and other resources
- use of environmentally friendly products
- improved health of staff, students and nature.
Working with the community
Respect for the diversity of people and cultures is an important part of achieving a sustainable environment. It helps to create an environment that is fair, peaceful, co-operative and makes the most of our rich cultural traditions.
Maori perspectives and knowledge of the environment offer unique insights built up over time. Including Maori perspectives enriches the Enviroschools learning process and honours the status of indigenous people of this land.
Enviroschools encourage appropriate and democratic school management, supporting people to:
- communicate more with others
- carry out self auditing and monitoring
- consider equity and diversity when making decisions
- have a sense of belonging and ownership.
Adding value to the curriculum
Enviroschools are able to add value to the prescribed curriculum by integrating various areas of school life. This helps teachers and students to:
- make use of all learning experiences, including play
- draw on the combined wisdom of our multi-cultural community
- create opportunities for student environmental action
- encourage critical questioning of resource use and lifestyle
- promote reflection on personal values and behaviours.
The first unit students study in the Enviroschools process is called ‘Me in My Environment’. Students explore the total environment and contribute to a ‘Whole School Vision’. Environmental education can be integrated with your school’s physical surroundings, operational practices and organisational principles through the following five theme areas:
- Living Landscapes
- Ecological Buildings
- Healthy Water
- Precious Energy
- Zero Waste.
Check out the calendar for teachers for information about professional development opportunities related to these themes and other Enviroschools dates.
Become an enviroschool
For more information about the Enviroschools Programme and how your school can become an enviroschool, contact our Schools Programme Co-ordinator.