Hands-on, experiential learning through 7 Steps
The Eco-Schools programme is based on a 7-Step Methodology, which allows for project-based, experiential learning, focused on positive actions.
The 7-Step Methodology is a series of carefully engineered measures to help schools maximise the success of their Eco-School ambitions. The method involves a wide diversity of individuals from the school community - with students playing a primary role in the process. The most important aspect for schools to remember is that every school is different and it is therefore critical that a school fits the Seven Steps around its circumstances and situation and not try to fit the school into the Seven Steps. Some key points about the individual steps are below.
- Step 1: Form an Eco Committee. The Eco-Schools Committee is the driving force behind the Eco-Schools process and will represent the ideas of the whole school.
- 2: Carry out an Environmental Review. Carrying out an Environmental Review helps the school to identify its current environmental impact and highlights the good, the bad and the ugly.
- 3: Action Plan. The Action Plan is the core of your Eco-Schools work and should be developed using the results of your Environmental Review.
- 4: Monitor and Evaluate. To find out whether or not you are successfully achieving the targets set out in your Action Plan, you must monitor and measure your progress.
- 5: Curriculum Work. Besides increasing the status of the programme, linking Eco-Schools activities to the curriculum ensures that Eco-Schools is truly integrated within the school community.
- 6: Inform and Involve. Getting everyone on board! Actions should not just be confined to the school: for example, pupils should take home ideas to put into practice.
- 7: Produce an Eco Code. A statement that represents the school's commitment to the environment.
The Green Flag
Usually, after two years of implementing the programme and reaching a high level of performance in complying with these Seven Steps (sometimes national mandatory criteria also applies), schools can then apply for and be awarded the Green Flag.
Before receiving their first Green Flag, schools must be assessed by means of a visit. After the first Green Flag, other means of assessment are allowed, although visits are always recommended. Assessment should be carried out on a yearly basis.
As the students grow, the programme grows with them. When students began third level education in various countries, they wanted to join the Eco Committee only to discover that there wasn't one! So they approached the chancellors or deans to ask why. Some visionary university faculty and staff agreed to run the Eco-Schools programme with the help of our National Operators of course, and it became known as FEE EcoCampus. It began in Russia in 2003 and the first whole institution Green Flags were awarded in Ireland in 2010.
Thus, Eco-Schools extends from K-12 Education to Further and Higher Education. Find out more here.