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Reflections on a sustainability continuum in a primary school context

Lewis, E., Baudains, C.ORCID: 0000-0001-8340-864X and Mansfield, C. (2012) Reflections on a sustainability continuum in a primary school context. In: 27th Annual Research Forum (Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Inc) Transforming practice: The value of educational research, 11 August 2012, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Western Australia


A longitudinal case study was conducted on the impact of the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AUSSI) at a primary school in Western Australia. The research utilised data related to education for sustainability at the school from 1990-2009. The year 2005 was a critical year for the school because it marked the beginning of participation in the sustainable schools initiative pilot in Western Australia (AUSSI-WA). The research investigated elements of education for sustainability in operation at the school pre- and post-AUSSI-WA, as well as student and teacher outcomes after involvement in the initiative. Results showed the school shifted along the sustainability continuum, to more or less sustainable positions, at different times over the twenty year period. Initially, the school's approach to education for sustainability was ad hoc and uncoordinated, and after 2005 it gradually changed to a planned, coordinated, integrated, evaluated, whole systems thinking approach. However, after three years in the initiative, it became evident that the school had begun to shift to a less sustainable position on the sustainability continuum. The findings emphasise the challenges in sustaining change in schools, as well as important implications for organisational change, school administration, curriculum and teacher support.

Keywords: education for sustainability; longitudinal research; primary education

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
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