How to make sustainability stick;Environment

25th June 1999 at 01:00
A code of practice for producersaims to make sure sustainable development resources do what they say, writes Christine Midgley.

Teachers are often concerned about the quality of materials on sustainable development. But fears about bias and lack of balance should be eased with the release of a voluntary code of practice drawn up by the Council for Environmental Education (CEE).

The code, drafted following last year's establishment of a Government panel on education for sustainable development, identifies 10 principles of good practice.

Among these is the requirement to demonstrate a need for the materials in the first place. Ironically, many resources on waste and the environment actually go to waste because they have not been properly thought through. The code may, therefore, reduce duplication as well as raise the quality of resources.

Each principle is supported by guidance on how to achieve it. For example, the principle relating to balance - "when purporting to give a balanced account of an issue, resources should accurately reflect the broad range of informed opinion on the subject", comes with advice that users should acknowledge the inherent bias in all materials and the existence of other views.

Producers are encouraged to give clear details about their resources, including evidence of development in accordance with the code. To help educators assess resources, a separate guide suggests questions that will help users judge how far producers have met their claims.

The CEE is putting the code into practice through its new CEEmail service for schools in England.

This will bring together information on resources, grants, awards, competitions, training and events from a wide range of organisations, so reducing the waste associated with mailshots. It will initially be a termly newsletter, followed later in the year by an Internet version.

Producers of resources on sustainable development are asked to send CEE or the Development Education Association a copy of their materials if they plan to claim production in accordance with the code.

Proposals for the revised curriculum are encouraging. Explicit reference to sustainable development within the "more explicit rationale for the school curriculum" will be a useful lever for recognition of the good practice that exists in many schools.

The government panel has recommended that the concepts of sustainable development should be delivered through curriculum subjects and reinforced by PSHE and citizenship and whole-school policies.

This raised profile is likely to lead to an increase in production and use of resources, particularly to support initiatives such as out-of-hours learning.

The CEE code of practice could not have appeared at a better time.

'Supporting Sustainable Development throughEducational Resources: a voluntary code of practice' andthe accompanying users guide, 'Sustainable Development:a guide to selecting educational resources' are available at index.htm. A printed version will be released later this year.For further information onCEE and CEEmail, send a large stamped addressed envelope to CEE, 94 London Street, Reading RG1 4SJ. Christine Midgley is head ofinformation at the Councilfor Environmental Education

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