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Through the lens of teachers: Understanding the implementation of sustainability as a cross-curriculum priority in Western Australian schools

da Silva-Branco, Kristina (2019) Through the lens of teachers: Understanding the implementation of sustainability as a cross-curriculum priority in Western Australian schools. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Education for Sustainability (EfS) can be understood as an effort to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to make environmental, social and economic decisions that consider the needs of present and future generations. In Western Australia (WA), EfS has been incorporated into the official state curriculum by the School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) as a cross-curriculum priority (CCP) (referred to as the Sustainability cross-curriculum priority [SCCP]). To date, very little research has been conducted on the various factors contributing to the implementation of the SCCP and whether these factors are connected to teachers’ perceptions of sustainability, the curriculum and/or teaching practices. This research sought to explore the integration of the SCCP into the curriculum through the lens of practising primary school teachers. In this study, nine primary school teachers in the Perth metropolitan region (five generalist; four specialists) were interviewed about the extent to which the Western Australian Curriculum has guided and supported their teaching practices in relation to sustainability and the SCCP, their perceptions of sustainability and their methods for teaching the SCCP. The findings showed that: 1) both generalist and specialist teachers are integrating the SCCP into their teaching practices across various learning areas to various extents; 2) in addition to the curriculum, teachers recognise the need for additional support and resources, school leadership being a relevant one; and 3) teachers’ understandings of sustainability captures its multiple dimensions as described in the literature (i.e., the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability) and has resulted in the adoption of a multidimensional approach to teaching. Through detailed and rich examples of classroom practice the participants illustrated the web of inter-related factors that characterise the implementation of the SCCP. Overall, the most salient take-home message of this work is that teachers are the main actors driving the implementation of the SCCP, making informed decisions about how the curriculum is to be incorporated in their teaching while responding to students’ interests and needs.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Supervisor(s): Woods-McConney, Amanda and Pino-Pasternak, Deborah
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