Last month, 37 teachers plus a bunch of students and community members gathered for a networking night focussed specifically on sustainability in schools. The networking event was an initiative from the Sustainable Schools Network – a brand new not for profit group on the Gold Coast. And it was a warm-up of sorts for a much bigger event planned for May.
In partnership with City of Gold Coast and Somerset College, the Sustainable Schools Network is hosting a Sustainability Symposium in May. Founder Katie Norman says, like the networking event before it, interest in the Symposium has been strong.
“All Gold Coast and Tweed Shire schools have been invited,” Katie told Blank Gold Coast, “and we are already over 50% capacity in terms of participant levels.”
Participants at the forum will work towards three key objectives: establishing a common language around sustainability, addressing the 12th Sustainable Development Goal, which is focussed on responsible consumption and production, and building partnerships for sustainable education.
“Students, teachers, grounds staff and school communities are invited to learn, share and develop 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, responsible citizenship and critical thinking,” Katie said. “We are looking forward to igniting souls and inspiring change.”
Support from outside the schools community has also been strong. Glenn Tozer, Councillor for Division 9 has thrown his weight behind the event as has Division 11 Councillor Hermann Vorster. City of Gold Coast Water and Waste, Griffith University, Green Cauldron Farm, Bloom Edible Flowers and the Australian Association of Environmental Education are also on board.
“Every Gold Coast school we have connected with have a story to tell,” Katie said.
“Schools are really moving forward with their initiatives and are very interested in sharing the work of dedicated staff and students. Students particularly have different ways of thinking about things and an openness to persisting and overcoming previous challenges to have successful outcomes.”
But of course the focus of the symposium is on the work of schools and the journey they’re on to achieve sustainability. Silkwood, Palm Beach Currumbin, Somerset College, All Saints Anglican School, Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar, Tallebudgera, Banora Point High and Robina High are all sharing their work and Melati Wijsen from the internationally recognised Green School in Bali is a keynote speaker.
“Our overall goal is to be behaviour change agents. Collectively, we see the need to connect schools, teachers, students and communities to build partnerships for sustainable education,” Katie said.
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The Sustainability Symposium takes place Monday 13 May at Somerset College and a range of ticket options (some of which include free bus transport) are available for school groups. Get all the details at bit.ly/GCschools.