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Photo: 10 10 / Flickr
Photo: 10 10 / Flickr

In France, the role of Sustainable Development Advisor in schools

published 9 November 2021 updated 11 January 2023

Émeline is a Life and Earth Sciences teacher and Sustainable Development Advisor.

After 10 years in a REP+ (Priority Education Network) in the Créteil academy, Émeline arrived at the François Perron secondary school in Cerilly. It is a rural school, north of Montluçon in the Allier department, with 108 pupils. She tells us about her role in the school and the projects carried out since 2017.

Tell us about your role in your school.

It's not just a label, I am recognised in the school. When I arrived, I discovered that nobody was interested in sustainable development. For me, it was an obvious choice, as I had just left a REP + school with the E3D label (responsible school label) in which I had been able to carry out many projects.

It was with great pleasure that I started with simple actions. With the History-Geography teacher, we set up an action on battery recycling with the "Piles solidaires" association.

As the Sustainable Development Advisor, I have the support of the management to carry out projects. The manager, as well as the staff and educational assistants, are also very involved. My investment is truly recognised and I receive an allowance for special tasks. I carry out actions with my colleagues, but this function also requires me to spend time drafting projects and filling in documents relating to the E3D label.

Implementing the projects has enabled our school to be awarded the E3D label, directly at level 3. The E3D label is important because it allows us to make the link between the different projects and actions carried out.

Sustainable development has given our school a collective dynamic. The fact that I initiate and coordinate actions as an Advisor enables me to involve the other teachers. I want them to realise that they are already doing sustainable development. It's not just about animals and plants, but also about well-being, energy, solidarity and inequalities.

"The role of Advisor must allow us to promote a global vision of sustainable development and to include a sustainable dimension in all the actions and projects carried out."

So it's not something only present in Life and Earth Sciences, it is relevant for all disciplines and the whole educational community.

Tell us about the other projects that were carried out.

On Tuesdays at lunchtime, I lead a nature club with the teacher in charge of documentation: observations in the schoolyard, setting up a small vegetable garden, creating an insect hotel, raising awareness about batteries, participation in an academic competition on the fight against bread waste with the production of an awareness-raising video that was shown to the secondary and primary school pupils. Volunteer pupils take part in all these actions.

For the battery recycling initiative, we hold competitions between classes to increase the number of batteries collected.

The education assistants also take action and organise the paper recycling initiative. We also recycle ink cartridges (with a company that collects them and gives a donation to an association).

We are a collection point for used writing materials (organised with Terracycle: we inform shops, companies and local authorities that they can bring us their materials). We raise awareness among students: for example, 600 pens can be used to make garden furniture out of recycled plastic. These are simple projects that enable us to make a link with the territory, the schools in the area and the parents.

We applied for a project financed by the CARDIE (Research Development Innovation and Experimentation Academic Unit) on "participative sciences". We received ready-to-use protocols to work on local biodiversity with, for example, an "operation snails" or work on earthworms in connection with the Life and Earth Sciences programme. This enabled us to involve the pupils and to get them interested in sustainable development.

The actions carried out over the past four years have been diverse and varied. But what we must remember is that the role of Advisor must allow us to promote a global vision of sustainable development and to include a sustainable dimension in all the actions and projects carried out.

This is the case for the integration day for the first-year pupils. A day is set aside at the end of September. Parents are invited to eat a balanced breakfast prepared by the pupils in the morning. They are made aware of the importance of a balanced diet and food waste.

After that, several workshops are held:

  • a workshop on the degradation time of waste
  • a collective game on nature clean-up (project with the Leclerc stores, which provide the materials) that involves cleaning up the waste in the area around the school
  • a workshop on well-being and communication facilitated by the nurse
  • a talk given by an association on local biodiversity with a fishing session held in an old wash house (how to collect a larva, a tadpole, a dragonfly)
  • a collaborative game on the topic of water: an orienteering race with quizzes on water wastage and the development cycle of the aforementioned species.

Note: this interview was first published in UNSA-Éducation magazine, Questions d’Éduc. n°43 - June 2021.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.