Education for Sustainability

Education for Sustainability approach

Education for Sustainability develops the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary for people to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living. It enables individuals and communities to reflect on ways of interpreting and engaging with the world. Sustainability education is futures oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action. Actions that support more sustainable patterns of living require consideration of environmental, social, cultural and economic systems and their interdependence. 

Source: The Australian Curriculum

Environments and resources can also highlight our responsibilities for a sustainable future and promote children's understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment. They can foster hope, wonder and knowledge about the natural world.

Source: Belonging, Being and Becoming- The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia

NRM Education utilises the South Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI- SA) model, rubrics and core Indicators to implement Education for Sustainability with schools and preschools.

The model illustrates five interwoven elements that make up an Education for sustainability approach.

Elements of the AuSSI-SA model:

  1. Culture - Our site develops a culture of sustainability with the wider community.
  2. Understanding- Our site nurtures the understanding, skills and values required to move with our community towards sustainability.
  3. Learning - Our site’s learning processes, pedagogies and the Australian Curriculum help us to achieve more sustainable lifestyles with our communities.
  4. Community- Our site achieves sustainability with its communities.
  5. Managing - Our site’s leadership, governance and management processes foster education for sustainability.

Source: AuSSI SA Guide to Becoming a Sustainable School

Benefits of an Education for Sustainability approach include:

  • authentic learning in real world contexts aligned with the Australian Curriculum and Belonging, Being and Becoming- The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia
  • sparking child curiosity and increased student engagement
  • improved learning outcomes (including literacy and numeracy)
  • parents, teachers, students and children creating more sustainable communities together
  • saving money, reducing ecological footprint, and increasing wellbeing.

NRM Education Resources


Education for Sustainability vision examples and vision builder tool
Education for Sustainability example school and early years visions
Site learning plans incorporating sustainability
Example of an early years SEMP - Hub Drive Preschool
Example of a primary school SEMP - Para Hills Primary School
Example of a middle school SEMP - Marymount College


Site Environment Management Plan (SEMP) template short version
Site Environment Management Plan template full version
Pre-Site Environment Management Plan (SEMP) template

Guiding questions for filling out SEMP 'What we are already doing'
Preschool outdoor space - SEMP Action Plan template
Getting started - auditing tools

Core indicator tools

School Core Indicators tool
School Core Indicators tool by stages
School Core Indicators tool with TfEL
School Core Indicators for staff with evidence box
Preschool Core Indicators tool
Preschool Core Indicators tool by stages
Preschool Core Indicators for staff with evidence box
Reflection questions
AuSSI-SA EfS poster

Early Childhood examples of Core Indicators achieved
Primary Years examples of Core Indicators achieved
Secondary Years examples of Core Indicators achieved

Information sheets


Other Resources

What others have done

Early childhood

Primary schools

Middle Years schools

Secondary schools

Related links

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges