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SDC Welcomes New School Development Plans for Northern Ireland

25 March 2010

cycling to school

The Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Commission has welcomed the positive step taken by the Department of Education to include Sustainable Development as a key component of the new regulations governing the drafting of school development plans in Northern Ireland.

Head of the Commission, Jim Kitchen stated:“The new regulations, due to come into effect in August 2010, are a welcome and tangible step forward for which the Minister Catriona Ruane, and her departmental officials are to be congratulated. 

The Sustainable Development Commission met with the Minister to discuss the importance of this issue as the guidance was being drafted, and we were pleased and reassured to find that the Minister shared our belief about the importance of these regulations and their transformational power. 

The common thread that developed through those meetings and during the drafting process was the need to adopt a ‘whole school’ approach to sustainable development, to ensure that its remit is broadened beyond the constraints of environmental education and to embrace the implications for schools at the centre of a healthy, equitable and sustainable society.  This means more than simple awareness of the issue, it means embedding sustainable development principles in the day to day work of the school – it is about how head teachers run the school, how the pupils and staff get to and from the school, and how the school engages with the community it serves. 

The Sustainable Development Commission believes that the new school development plans are an important part of the process of broadening the scope of sustainable development practices and priorities in our community.  We recognise that much good work is currently underway in the education sector, as evidenced by the recent Education and Training Inspectorate Evaluation of Education for Sustainable Development.  The many instances of good practice pointed out within this particular report are indeed encouraging and we in the SDC look forward to working with the Minister and her department on a range of issues of mutual importance in the future.”


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