Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sustainability in the school - St Francis of the Fields

St Francis of the Fields, - To Live, Learn and Grow in God’s love

Recently, while on a visit to the Sandhurst Diocese as part of a Catholic Network Australia meeting of representatives from Diocese across Australia, we had the opportunity to visit St Francis of the Fields Primary School, Strathfieldsaye.

Located on an old dairy farm and surrounded by creeks, St Francis of the Fields Primary School embeds sustainable practices and programs throughout the school and its community. The school’s vision in this area is for ‘students to develop a respect for our natural environment and the need for sustainability of this gift from God’.

Children have hands on experiences with gardens and animals and spend 2 to 5 weeks in a school environmental program in their on-site Environmental Education centre.

During our visit we saw the Oasis Kitchen Garden with numerous chooks running around.

This permaculture garden area encompasses a hot house, worm farm, recycling area and more. The pig pen housed the largest pigs we had ever seen: saddleback pigs.

An article in the Bendigo Advertiser provides more details about the school's environment centre: St Francis of the Fields’ Open Environment Learning Centre.

The many environmental developments and sustainability highlights of St Francis of the Fields are listed on the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES) Sustainability Hub website.  St Francis is a 5 star sustainable school.  

This website and its parent site also provide a number of great resources for educators. See the web links listed at the end of the post.

The environmental curriculum is based on:

- waste management and reduction

- water saving awareness

- energy reduction in school, transport and in the home

- community and cultural sustainability

- appreciation of the natural environment, especially the flora and fauna that live in and around the two creeks that border the school.

The other highlights of our visit were seeing the recording studio and open learning spaces. Additionally, the opportunity to see how the Yr 5 and 6, 1 to 1 laptop program provides the flexibility for students to capture, integrate and share digital stories of their school environment in learning about ‘community’.

The CERES website has a range of education resources that provide great ideas for schools to integrate sustainability through their curriculum.

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