RCE Scotland - 2022


United Kingdom
Supporting educators: the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s 'Learning for Sustainability Hub'
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Supporting educators: the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s 'Learning for Sustainability Hub'
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Scotland
Contributing organization(s) : 
General Teaching Council for Scotland

Focus Group practitioners from Cowgate Under Fives’ Centre, Stow Primary School, Logan Primary School, Kilmaron School (Additional Support Needs), Inverness High School, Holyrood RC High School, Dundee and Angus College, Edinburgh Napier University.
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Kirsten Leask
Organizational Affiliation: 
RCE Scotland
Format of project: 
Online microsite, online professional learning, online collaborative sessions, online resource & professional reading curation
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Sunday, August 14, 2022
1. National Learning for Sustainability strategy: Learning for Sustainability | Policy drivers | Policy for Scottish education | Scottish education system | Education Scotland
At what level is the policy operating?: 
2. National Professional Standards for teachers in Scotland: Professional Standards for Teachers - The General Teaching Council for Scotland (gtcs.org.uk)
At what level is the policy operating?: 
3. National Curriculum for Excellence: https://education.gov.scot/education-scotland/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5/what-is-curriculum-for-excellence/
At what level is the policy operating?: 
4. Scottish Government commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Children's rights - Human rights - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Address of focal point institution for project: 
c/o Moray House School of Education & Sport
Charteris Land, St John Street
Target Audience:
Primary, Secondary, Teacher Ed.
Additional support needs, student teachers, teacher educators
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Scotland is a country within the United Kingdom with a population of approximately 5.4 million. The natural environment of the region is diverse; from large urban areas to uninhabited islands, and from highlands to lochs (lakes) and lowlands. Its socio-economic profile is similarly diverse: with areas of both deprivation and affluence in both urban and rural contexts as can be seen in the Scottish Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Scotland has partial self-government within the UK with devolved legislative powers over matters such as education, health and transport, as specified in the Scotland Acts 1998 and 2012.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
The policy framework in place in Scotland to address the SDGs is embedded at national level through the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework (NPF). RCE Scotland collaborated with the SDG Network, Scottish Government and the Convention on Scottish Local Authorities on a 2020 review of progress towards the ambitions of the NPF, which acknowledges that although progress is being made on addressing the SDGs in Scotland, challenges were identified in relation to each of the SDGs. (https://www.gov.scot/publications/scotland-sustainable-development-goals-national-review-drive-action/pages/7/).

Learning is required to address all the SDGs and ESD (or ‘Learning for Sustainability (LfS)’ as it is known in Scotland) in general is embedded within Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence and national policies such as the national Action Plan on Learning for Sustainability (https://education.gov.scot/improvement/Documents/LearningforSustainability-Vision2030ActionPlan.pdf); as well as the requirements of the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Professional Standards for teachers and college lecturers (https://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-standards/).

There are already many excellent examples of LfS being implemented in educational settings across Scotland. Ensuring and supporting consistent and sustained implementation and embedding of the five key strategic aims of the national Learning for Sustainability Action Plan: particularly in terms of embedding a whole-setting approach across all sectors and subject areas, is, however, an ongoing challenge.
January, 2020
Ensuring parity and equity of access to professional learning, support, resources and opportunities for educators to collaborate with one another is of paramount importance if Scotland's national vision on Learning for Sustainability is to succeed.
As mentioned above, key policy levers exist in Scotland to support the implementation of LfS across day-to-day learning from early years (ages 3-5) settings through to further education in colleges.

One such lever is the suite of Professional Standards for teachers and lecturers; regulated by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). This is the teaching profession’s statutory body in Scotland and all teachers are required to register with it if they wish to teach in state-run schools. Five-yearly Professional Updates by teachers outlining how their practice is meeting the requirements of the Professional Standards is a key requirement of maintaining this required registration.

RCE Scotland’s ongoing partnership with the GTCS has strengthened the status of Learning for Sustainability (LfS) in the Standards; helping to embed LfS in day-to-day learning across the 3-18 learning continuum.
In 2020, we convened focus groups to inform a refresh of the Professional Standards: which resulted in LfS being strengthened as a key cross-cutting theme for all teachers in Scotland.

We recognize, however, that simply having this strategic commitment to LfS is unlikely to truly result in transformational change without further action. Therefore, in 2021, RCE Scotland and the GTCS committed to further partnership activity to support, promote and embed ESD across the Professional Standards; thereby having a positive impact on both the skills, values, attributes and knowledge of teachers - and ultimately on young people. This theme of effective collaboration to build and support the capacities of educators is a key aspect of our work as an RCE and one which resonates across the RCE Network.
To support and inspire teachers in Scotland to enhance and develop the confidence, skills, knowledge, values and attitudes they need to embed Learning for Sustainability into:
• their professional development as practitioners in accordance with the requirements of the GTCS Professional Standards
• their everyday teaching practice; irrespective of sector or subject area
• the wider activity of their setting and the community around it; creating a whole-setting approach
• consideration of the 'bigger picture' themes around LfS/ESD as a global approach to learning and teaching and links to worldwide strategies such as the SDGs.

Activities and/or practices employed: 
• 2020: RCE Scotland convened practitioner Focus Groups to inform the strengthening of LfS as part of the refresh of the Professional Standards.
• 2021: The refreshed Standards are published. RCE Scotland continues its partnership with GTCS to build and develop an online Learning for Sustainability Hub; which supports teachers to Explore, Engage, Enact & Embed, and Connect with LfS as part of their ongoing commitment to the Standards.
• Content for these four themes includes:

o Explore: What does LfS mean for me?:
- A short animation outlining what is meant by ‘Learning for Sustainability
- A Guide to show how LfS is interwoven across all aspects of the Standards.
- Inspirational video clips of teachers sharing personal insights more about what LfS means to them and their practice

o Engage: Where am I on my LfS journey?:
- A self-evaluation tool for use by teachers
- Video clips from teachers sharing how they are evaluating LfS in their practice and across their settings

o Enact and embed: Making LfS part of my teaching:
- 3 x self-led Professional Learning Modules
- Curated Resources
- Curated Professional Reading

o Connect: Join the LfS conversation:
- Monthly online Drop-In sessions; hosted by RCE Scotland and GTCS, with guest speakers from across the teaching profession invited to share and discuss a range of themes relating to ESD.
- An ESD practice-sharing tool for use by teachers
- Additional events and webinars

Size of academic audience: 
3,081 visitors to the microsite, 125 teachers engaging with Professional Learning since June 2022, 97 attendees to Drop-In sessions since inception in April 2022, with many attending several sessions.
The project is still underway and activity is scheduled to continue until June 2023 (with the possibility of extension); however initial feedback indicates:

1. The microsite is already receiving significant interest from Scottish teachers in relation to embedding LfS in their Professional Development as part of the national Professional Standards, with over 3,000 visitors since its launch in April 2022. 125 teachers are already taking part in our second self-led Professional Learning module: two months after its launch in June 2022. We have had 97 teachers attend our Drop-In sessions since their inception in April 2022, with many attending several sessions in succession.

2. Ongoing facilitated opportunities to engage in peer-learning which shares, critically considers and reflects on practical approaches to learning and teaching for LfS at an individual and whole-setting level have been very well-received.

3. Exemplification was highlighted by our original Focus Group members as a key methodology for inspiring teachers to make LfS part of the everyday in their practice. Our two-fold approach to this: in terms of providing recorded video content from teachers across the 3-18 learning continuum and ‘live’ opportunities to hear from teachers during our Drop-In sessions, has received positive feedback.

4. The microsite includes a facility for teachers to feed back their thoughts on its content at any time but ongoing monitoring and evaluation will include a further meeting of our original Focus Group and teachers engaging with our various activities to inform further development of this project – as well as gathering qualitative evidence on the wider impact of the materials on teachers and learners.
Lessons learned: 
• There is an ongoing need to support the implementation of national policy into everyday teaching practice. The provision of professional learning, links to resources, but most importantly exemplification and collaborative opportunities for teachers is essential in terms of making a change in terms of day-to-day activity and wider attitudinal change.

• Engaging practitioners in the co-design of resources and collaborative opportunities is vital in terms of ensuring relevance and credibility to the target audiences.

• The creation of an online resource, with features such as self-led Professional Learning; supplemented with opportunities for ‘real-time’ collaboration, has proven to be inclusive and supportive; particularly given the logistical difficulties that many teachers face in attending in-person events.

• This initiative has strengthened our already well-established relationship with the GTCS and other partners, and provided further opportunity for us all to bring our respective strengths and expertise to this initiative and utilize our networks to promote and reach a wide range of audiences. In this instance, the 'sum of the parts' has resulted in a robust, credible initiative.
Key messages: 
Becoming, being and growing as a teacher in Scotland means making a professional commitment to learning and learners that is compatible with the aspiration of achieving a sustainable and equitable world. This resource supports teachers to reflect on, engage with and enhance Learning for Sustainability in both their own practice and the wider life of their setting; themes which have resonance beyond Scotland to educators across the RCE Network.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
• Our ongoing work on Scotland’s national Learning for Sustainability Action Plan in collaboration with Scottish Government.
Microsoft Word - LearningforSustainability-Vision2030ActionPlan (education.gov.scot)

• ‘Values and Learning for Sustainability in Initial teacher education’

• ‘Supporting global collaboration and professional learning: Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning’ https://www.rcenetwork.org/portal/rce-scotland-2020

• ERASMUS+ project: ESD Supervision in collaboration with RCE Oldenburger-Muensterland
We gratefully acknowledge the ongoing funding we receive from the General Teaching Council for Scotland.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
The General Teaching Council for Scotland's Learning for Sustainability Hub GTC Scotland 2022
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
I acknowledge the above: