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Gateway Learning Community QESSI Hub 2007 – 2008 Report


The Sustainable GLC With global climate change now influencing international political decision making, the environment, and more broadly all issues to do with sustainability, is a top priority for this planet in the early 21st century. In our local area the seven Gateway Learning Community schools are making a concerted effort to make a clear positive benefit to our environment, understanding that small acts of environmental responsibility when viewed cumulatively make a big difference in the way we impact upon our physical world. Key staff in each school work with enthusiastic student teams achieving sustainable success in areas such as management of resources and facilities including school grounds, energy, waste, water, transport and purchasing. Increasingly, principles of sustainability are being built into curriculum planning including programs to develop leadership that focus on active citizenship, respect, student wellbeing and social and cultural diversity amongst other social issues.

Tree Planting

The formal Sustainable GLC Project began in 2005 linking the seven schools in this common purpose and encouraging the sharing of information and Local Fauna– Squirrel Glider collaborative effort, under the auspices of QESSI. Bulimba State School, with its well articulated and integrated sustainability focus, has been the lead school under the leadership of Principal Michael Zeuschner Michael has represented the GLC, QESSI and AuSSi, in 2007 presenting at environmental education conferences in both Victoria and Japan. Bulimba and Norman Park SSs opened their doors in 2007 to host visits from other schools as part our QESSI commitment. Bush Neighbours

Student Advocacy

The joint strengths of the GLC and QESSI social networking models has seen increased collaboration between the schools to work together on common projects to make a broader and more sustainable impact on our community and the building of partnerships with our community and organisations that enhance sustainable outcomes for the school and community as a whole.


The Sustainable GLC Recent GLC sustainable strategies•

The staging of the GLC’s own Children’s Festival “Wildwords”, with the 2007 theme of ‘One village, many stories’. delivered a program of extension workshops to support local area studies being taught in GLC schools. These included visits to and from our local Beelarong Community Farm; Bush Neighbours Workshops run by rangers from Downfall Creek; art inspired by local natural and built landscapes; student interviews of local residents and Wildlife Rescue Workshops.

The staging of a free, major community event, the ‘Big Night Out’, drawing 5000 local people to the GLC ‘Village Green’ at Balmoral SHS for an evening of educational activities and fun as schools showcased the outcomes of their local area studies, supported by stalls and activities run by community groups and business, and mostly funded by external sponsorship.

Sponsored by Brisbane City Council and also involving a number of local community groups 120 GLC Yr 4 students visited the Cannon Hill Bushland for day of environmental activities including the planting of a new bush garden area.

The GLC has purchased equipment and resources with joint funds including electrical and music equipment, tables and marquees. These are stored at convenient school sites and are available for borrowing. This culture of cooperation and savings has also extended to extensive sharing of facilities and other resources at all levels across GLC schools.

The 2007 GLC Student Leadership Project brought students leaders together from across the GLC schools in a forum which resulted in the group taking up the fight against poverty. Student leaders became activists promoting the cause with fundraising, a petition and an education program at the ‘Big Night Out’.

Environmental workshop GLC’s Wildwords Festival Learning on the ground

An AuSSI in Japan


Bulimba State School With a focus on the future Bulimba State School has integrated into the ‘everyday’ real applications of sustainable principles which have positively influenced attitudes and behaviours of the broad school community. Year level teachers come together regularly to plan, mapping curriculum across a set of ‘essential learnings’, looking at how sustainability links to topics and incorporating practical projects as part of their units of work. Student Environmental Captains also play a key role talking about issues, initiating projects and encouraging their peers to get involved. As a result students are both switched on and positive, eagerly involved in waste, habitat, water and energy reduction efforts for the school. • •

Students participate in regular cleanups and litter collection. Schoolyard waste is sorted for recycling using colour coded bins and Used paper and cans are also sorted by students for recycling with SITA. The school reduced E-waste by recycling old computers. The hillside setting of the school is being progressively landscaped to enhance its natural bush character. Terraces have been paved by student teams using recycled pavers, and an ongoing program of mulching, weeding, composting, green housing, native planting and embankment retaining is quickly regenerating the area, supported by a key teacher and proactive groundsman. Environmental Camps, and the recent adoption by a year level of a Wollemi Pine, extend students’ knowledge base and teach responsible behaviours. The school has saved water by storing runoff in a number of large water tanks, funded through Australian Government Community Water Grants, and carefully allocating the water resource to where it’s most needed. New buildings were designed to capture and direct water to these tanks. Education Queensland water saving measures such as keyed and spring loaded taps and dual flush toilets have been installed. The school’s sustainable toilet block continues to function effectively. Bulimba State School actively seeks to minimize energy usage by monitoring and minimizing light and electricity usage, and is also part of the Energex Solar Schools Program, solar heating its swimming pool.

As a school well along the sustainability pathway Bulimba State School generously sharing its knowledge with the other GLC schools and beyond. As a multiple past winner of the Green and Healthy Awards the school is now called upon to advise others. The school links with business, particularly those with parent connections, and agencies such as Qld Resource Council, Beelarong Farm, and the Gould League to trial initiatives and build its knowledge base. A low energy light bulbs giveaway scheme, sponsored by Brisbane City Council is a recent example. Bulimba State School is also actively involved with the Keep Australia Beautiful and Reef Guardians.


Bulimba State School


Murarrie State School Based on principles of sustainability and community benefit Murarrie State School has developed a whole school process called ‘Vision Time Projects’. Students from across the school get together for vision time, one hour per week, and decide upon what they want to do to improve the school. Leadership is placed with the students and, as they learn how to action their projects over the long term, responsibility, knowledge and confidence grows. By ensuring whole school community care, regard and pride for the projects, the students become enculturated, with the expectation that they will act as ‘people with conscience’, developing the habits of a person who acts sustainably. ‘Vision Time Projects’ currently underway at Murarrie State School are: • School Gardens- the renovation of some degraded areas in the school grounds. This involved much native plantings and the building of a special gardens called Nature’s Pathway and a water feature. Student and parent working bees maintain the gardens while mulch from the chooks is used as fertilizer. • Chook pen- a focus for many students who enjoy interacting with the chooks. Food sourced from Tuckshop • Hedge Maze- has been planted • A BMX track- planning conducted and funding being sought Vision Time is supported in the classrooms by an across school unit of work for one term in Sustainability taught by a specialist science/ biology teacher and ongoing everyday sustainable practices such as rubbish sorting, paper recycling, can recycling and water conservation. A water tank and water minimization taps and cisterns have been installed at the school, as per Education Queensland specifications.


Murarrie State School


Cannon Hill State School The curriculum framework at Cannon Hill State School is built around five big ideas - thinking and learning, how to have a balanced life, how to be a member of and create community, dealing with transitions and, overarching all this, sustainability. Environmental sustainability is both explicitly taught in classrooms and is a strong feature of extra-curricular activities and projects involving the whole school community. Units of work around Water and Biodiversity are being taught with direct learning links to the benefits generated by the installation of two water tanks which feed the swimming pool and vegetable garden areas. The school has set up its own ‘reverse garbage’ depot to consciously use recycled materials for art and other activities, such as ‘Wakakirri’, with the aim this year for all costumes and sets to be ‘no cost’. Rubbish is separated into different bins in classrooms and in the yard. Paper and cans are recycled and food scraps are sent to feed the chooks or to the worm farm for composting. The sorting and collection of rubbish is linked to a SITA collection for a small economic benefit for school. A school intranet and online school newsletter have been introduced as steps towards paperless communications. The student led Environment Club and several classes work in the school’s Environmental Patch, nurturing the chooks and tending the herb and vegetable gardens, assisted by links to local Beelarong Community Farm. Compost and mulch is used extensively on all schools gardens, many of which have been planted with natives and are undergoing renovation. The Tuckshop has undergone restructuring now serving Café style meals on certain days. Apart from clear economic benefits due to the reduced costs in preparing a single menu item, the school has also noticed attitudinal differences resulting in reduced food wastage, less litter in the school grounds and an increase in volunteer parents. The school is a very committed participant in Brisbane City Council’s Active School Travel Program, resulting in significant changes in student travel modes and behaviours since its instigation in 2007.


Cannon Hill State School


Seven Hills State School By building its program of environmental awareness around the ongoing care of a tract of remnant, native bushland located within its own extensive grounds, Seven Hills State School has established a strong identity as our local bush school. Students work regularly in the ‘Eris Jolly Bushland’, named after a after a local environmentalist with strong links to the school. They mulch, weed and undertake earth works, often using recycled materials, to help maintain, regenerate and improve the area. Local native plants are also propagated, with a special project devoted to introducing a vine that attracts Birdwing butterflies. The school had recently added extensive, native, rainforest plantings on bottom oval as the new outdoor learning area. Work units focused on the care and conservation of native flora and fauna are taught in lower primary classes using the enquiry-based philosophy of ‘Reggio Emilia’ in which several Seven Hills SS staff are building expert skills. Middle school classes continue this focus with ongoing studies linked to the bushland, the building of solar ovens and broader sustainability issues such as registering for and promoting Earth Hour. As well the Seven Hills State School has planted both a vegetable patch and orchard. School grown fruit is served for free from the Tuckshop. Irrigation for the bushland, gardens and orchard is supplemented by 2 large tanks with pumps, purchased through the Australian Government Community Water Grants scheme. The school acts water-wisely by not watering their huge oval. The school also completed an Education Queensland water conservation fit out. The school participated in the Brisbane City Council’s Active School Travel program in 2007 winning that year’s Active School Travel Award. It initiated Walking Wheelie Wednesdays, car pooling, built a Bike cage and supported two walking school buses which in 2008 have expanded to three as the school continues to enthusiastically support the program.


Seven Hills State School


Norman Park State School A culture of inclusivity is at the forefront of Norman Park State School’s vision. Due to the small size of the school grounds and limited natural habitat, the school has had to be creative in its ways of applying sustainable principles so, with the help of funding from the Department of Primary Industries, Member for Bulimba, Mr Pat Purcell and the Alan Phillip World Peace Trust, it developed the ‘Norman Park Farm’ in a secluded area of the grounds. The farm has become part of the school’s consciousness and has encouraged students to take home new attitudes to sustainability. The whole school community is invited to work and contribute to the farm on an informal basis. A student team of interested children from all year levels love working in the farm during lunch times, and a student permaculture group, ‘The Green Army’, work in the farm on Wednesday afternoons as an extension activity. The farm has especially proven to provide a safe and comforting social niche for some of the school’s higher needs students. The school farm grows vegetables, and its hens produce eggs, which are sold to the Tuckshop and staff. In return vegetable scraps go to the farm’s compost bin and worm farm. Likewise soil from the hen enclosure is dug regularly into garden beds and prunings go into the compost bin to be used as mulch. Support from the groundsman and a key teacher at the school is integral to the success of the farm. The groundsman assists in ongoing maintenance and heavier work. The teacher coordinates all farm activities and facilitates the many donations and help from parents and local businesses such as the Morningside Vet and Pet Shop. Links to curriculum are through SOSE. Early years classes have units focusing on food production and the upper school recently designed and built Bio Domes. The Beelarong Community Farm has visited the school’s farm giving students valuable practical advice. Norman Park SS in 2007 hosted visits to its farm from interested Brisbane schools as part of its QESSI commitment. The school has embedded many practices and built infrastructure to reduce its ecological impact. An upper school class manages weekly white paper recycling with VISY. The school participated in Earth Hour and on an everyday basis encourage lights, computers and airconditioning to be turned off when not in use. In a recent new building, extensive use of skylights, flow through ventilation, tinted windows and the removal of some double fluoro tubes has reduced energy use. A set of solar panels heats the school pool. There are three water tanks at the school, one for farm usage and the others for maintenance of the oval. Farm produce is watered by drip system or by students using watering cans. The school has retro fitted dual flush toilets and installed keys for taps as per Education Queensland requirements.


Norman Park State School


Morningside State School Through a range of practical environmental initiatives, curriculum links with Science and the promotion of three simple rules- respect for themselves, respect for each other and respect for the environment- Morningside State School teaches students to see themselves as an integral part of the natural environment and encourages them to develop empathy for it. The school has a popular Environment Club with many enthusiastic members from all year levels. Two key teachers, members of the Growing Communities Network, oversee the project along with the school’s Yr 7 Environment Captains who are responsible for highlighting environmental issues as well as helping manage the lunchtime activities which include caring for the bantam hens and composting garden prunings, chicken manure and old nesting straw for use on gardens. The club has initiated several gardens in the school grounds such as a shady, rainforest garden around the oval to minimize erosion, a fruit garden, a fragrant garden and most recently a large raised garden for herbs and vegetables, funded by a Kitchen Garden Grant. ‘Bush tucker’ plants, sourced from Indigescapes at Redlands, have been incorporated, earmarked for future use by the Tuckshop. The garden is complemented by landscaping with student mosaic pavers and a mural painted by local indigenous artists who are also parents at the school. A recently installed water tank, an outcome of an Australian Government Community Water Grants, helps irrigate the gardens. Water wise practices have been put in place including an Education Queensland fit-out of dual flush toilets and keyed taps. Drought tolerant native plants are used where possible assisted by regular mulching to minimise water loss. Thermal roof mounted storage tanks heat the swimming pool. Overflow water from the pool is stored in tanks and used to water large areas of the school grounds. Condensation overflow from air conditioners supplement rainfall and signs, courtesy of Yr 4 students who have conducted a water audit, remind the school to watch every drop. Energy and waste reduction are also priorities. Classes turn off computers, lights, fans and switches when not in use. Colour-coded bins sort rubbish for recycling and build awareness of what is actually thrown away. Paper is recycled to VISY and aluminium cans to Comalco. Wherever possible the school uses recycled photo copy paper. The Tuckshop uses recycled paper bags and minimizes packaging, while students are encouraged to use lunchboxes and bring ‘Litter Free’ lunches to school. Each year Morningside State School participates in the Keep Australia Beautiful campaign and National Schools Tree Day. It is also a member of Reef Guardians and is an Active School Travel Program participant this year.


Morningside State School


Balmoral State High School Building multiple levels of leadership to strengthen the capabilities and social responsibility of both students and staff has been the recent focus of Balmoral State High School. The ‘100 Leaders Project’ provides the framework within which teams are being developed to lead the school in a mutually agreed direction which includes, at this stage, transitional attitudes built around principles of social justice and ecological awareness. The specific skilling needed to identify and effect change is expressed in an eclectic range of school and community experiences, events and projects offered at Balmoral State High School. Although each activity has been intrinsically valuable, the school holds that changing attitudes is both the starting point and the core of each, with the long term intention of building sustainable futures for the school and its students. Some of examples of these opportunities that have built leadership capacity include: • Yr 12 Leadership Retreat to develop and bond final year students as an effective group • Year 8 Leadership Day • Student Council year level Community projects across all year levels • The International Women’s Day Breakfast held annually to empower the school’s female students and staff • Common Thread student theatre project- written and produced by students expressing teenagers opinions on issues important to them • Involvement in Earth Hour • Experiential Leadership Development programs targeted at young leaders Practical activities the school is currently involved in to reduce its ecological impact include small scale paper and cartridge recycling.


Balmoral State High School


Towards a Sustainable Future The many sustainable strategies implemented by Gateway Learning Community schools show just how wide a range of initiatives are practically viable in a school setting to reduce their student’s eco footprints and bring about long term attitudinal change in their school communities. In 2008 the seven schools are continuing to work both individually and as a network to consolidate, improve and embed existing strategies and also move forward in new ways on each school’s journey towards a sustainable future. The GLC is in the process of putting together a new across school team to drive a coordinated set of activities over the next 12 months and beyond, aligned to the goals of QESSI and Education Queensland, designed to address areas of priority and interest.

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Further learning in permaculture and food producing gardens. Further learning about local native habitats A focus on energy. The GLC will be training school community members, be they staff or parents, to conduct school energy audits with the aim across of reducing energy usage, looking at accessing alternative energy sources, and in some cases actually generating energy for the grid. Outreach to the wider community. The GLC’s major public event ‘Big Night Out’ on 29 August will focus a ‘Sustainability Grove’ with displays, activities and performances from the schools, environmental groups and business promoting sustainability issues. The encouragement of across school networks and informal links between teachers, registrars, groundsmen and parents to seek opportunities to further share, save and participate. The mapping of existing connections and the development of new partnerships with business and community. The development of leadership at all levels to build the capacity to deliver successful outcomes.

The GLC sees a future in which sustainability is the starting point for all planning and decision making in our schools; a future in which GLC students are ‘ecokids’, and where their families have developed attitudes and habits consistent with the principles of the Earth Charter. As a QESSI Hub the GLC values its position of influence as an agent of sustainable change for Queenslanders.


QESSi Report 2008  

Report on the Sustainable Activities conducted by the Gateway Learning Community in 2008

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