THE DEFINITION OF SUSTAINABILITY:
SUSTAINABLE EARLY CHILDHOOD SERVICES
In February 2016, the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority published ACECQA Q4 2015 Snapshot the Element level results table “ranks the 58 elements of the NQS in descending order based on the proportion of those services that do not meet each element” p16.
Ranked 3rd of elements NOT BEING MET is element 3.3.1
NQS Element 3.3.1: Sustainable practices are embedded in service operations.
Early childhood educators have a responsibility to use sustainable practices in their services. Sustainability is a key component of the Australian curriculum at all levels of education. Embedding sustainable practices in service operations model ways to protect and improve the environment for the future. Plus running a sustainable practice not only conserves energy but it saves money too.
STRATEGIES TO MEET NQS 3.3.1
The Aussie Childcare network article on sustainable practices has excellent lists for Educators and children seeking to engage with sustainability in their educational setting. Each service will need to implement different measures but core elements for educators include
# Conducting an “environmental audit” of your service – Ensuring you have policies and strategies in place to address the following areas of usage:
# Changing (and modelling) actions – turning off lights/recycling waste/cutting back on water usage/reducing paper usage by using Educa eportfolios
# Developing Service Plans – Review the audit, set yourself some achievable goals – then put an action plan in place so that goals are measurable. That way you can monitor and celebrate successes.
# Contacting your local council to find out what programs they run – they may have grant or funding rounds (also search the grant websites listed below). Note: Canvas local community groups for assistance with grant writing (or you may have a parent with that skill set)
# Getting the local community involved – contact local schools (ask them about their School Environment Management plan (SEMP), community gardens, services in your region who are implementing sustainable practices, national parks & wildlife – local networking can produce some amazing connections.
To get you started here’s a pdf example of a SEMP template – and some further info.
Little Green Steps – although this was a regional program launched in 2004, the Guide for educators is a comprehensive document with strategies and resources
Aussie Childcare Network on sustainability
ACT Government (grants.act.gov.au)
NSW Government (communitybuilders.nsw.gov.au)
NT Government (nt.gov.au)
Qld Government (qld.gov.au)
SA Government (sa.gov.au)
Tas. Government (service.tas.gov.au)
Vic. Government (vic.gov.au/grants)
WA Government (grantsdirectory.dlg.wa.gov.au)