'A footprint means pressing down and global means world, so 'global footprint' means pressing down on the world and we don't want to press too hard' (child's definition of a Global Footprint)
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Beech Hill School

A whole school approach to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Involvement in Global Footprints has helped to promote ESD across the whole curriculum and impact on the school development plan in Beech Hill School, Wigan.

Beech Hill, a primary school with 500 pupils from nursery to year 6, has developed ESD work with various partners over several years, integrating ESD into the ethos, management and curriculum of the school.

Teachers have developed units of work in different subjects and have built these into long-term curriculum planning. Activities have been developed from the school's participation in Global Footprints and with the help of Lancashire Global Education Centre (LGEC) (link to info on DEC).

Many of the activities combine ESD objectives with subject-specific objectives. The objectives include:

  • raising awareness and exploring action to reduce individuals' impact on the environment
  • developing indicators to measure the school's progress towards reducing its environmental impact
  • encouraging children to devise their own solutions to problems
  • encouraging pupils to become involved in decision-making processes

The activities are also linked to QCA Schemes of Work. Examples include science (scientific enquiry and materials and their properties), art and design (developing work to reflect views and ideas) and geography (improving the local environment).

Some specific examples include:

  • Song of the world, an art and design unit of work for Year 5. The activities enabled pupils to communicate ideas by making a collaborative textile, and are adapted from the QCA Art Scheme of Work Unit 5C 'Talking Textiles'.

    Pupils explored how textiles from different places and times represent events and stories. They used photographs of a modern tapestry, 'The Song of the World', displayed in Wigan's 'twin town' in France. This ensured a European dimension/link to the work.

    Pupils discussed different elements of the tapestry before developing their own. The theme of 'The Joy of Living' was selected and using information and ideas from various sources including the Internet pupils worked in groups to complete a 'collaborative tapestry'.

The school intends to develop this work in future, using e-mail to communicate and share ideas with French pupils at a school in their 'twin town'.

  • A science activity on babies’ nappies (link to activity details on site) for pupils in Year 3.

    This aimed to develop an understanding of the impact of human activity and how people's individual choices can effect the environment.

    Over a number of lessons pupils investigated the properties of materials by observing, measuring and investigating the absorbency of different types of disposable and re-usable nappies.

    The environmental and economic impacts of different nappies were then considered (e.g. use of energy and water by washing nappies and landfill from disposable nappies etc).

    This work was extended to consider local, national and global implications (e.g. cost, amount of waste etc).


  • What do we throw away? This Year 4 activity built on work in geography, and developed ideas on 'handling data' from the QCA Geography Scheme of Work Unit 25: 'Geography and Numbers'.

    Over half a term, pupils collected and weighed classroom rubbish and were encouraged to think about and discuss its effects (e.g. smell and hygiene) and implications (e.g. where does rubbish get moved to?).

    Pupils looked into the issue at school and home and considered the people involved, linking with work in geography on how to improve the local area. Another purpose of the activity was to develop indicators to help measure the school's progress in reducing its impact and thereby reflect the aims of the school's ESD policy.

    It is important that work in the classroom feeds into and links with school policy on ESD as it is clearly vital that taught values are reflected in school practice.

The school has adapted other units from the QCA Geography Scheme of Work as part of their work on ESD, including Unit 8 on improving the environment, Unit 12 on traffic, and Units 10 and 18 on how people connect with other parts of the world.

The school considers that its whole school approach to ESD and its involvement in the Global Footprints project has motivated pupils and helped them begin to make connections between their role as members of the school and their role as citizens in the local and global community.

Evidence of this seems to come from the School Council where discussions and decisions seem to reflect a greater emphasis on a sustainable development agenda than might otherwise be expected.

A letter from the chairperson on the School Council to the Local Council Waste Officer requests ‘a paper and card recycling box for every classroom and the office’. The letter concluded, ‘I hope you will be in agreement with us as I am sure it will be of benefit to the environment to put all the waste in school to good use’.

The Global Footprints project/ESD work has also encouraged teacher collaboration and improved teaching and learning through combining skills and knowledge from different curriculum areas.

The schools considers that the key ingredients for success have been:

  • developing and sharing a commitment to ESD at the school
  • identifying opportunities for developing ESD skills and concepts in different subject areas
  • planning for progression of knowledge and understanding of ESD
  • encouraging colleagues to share ideas and develop their understanding of ESD in the curriculum
  • reviewing successful activities from the school's schemes of work to give them an ESD emphasis, and not planning to deliver completely new content