GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

Learning for Sustainability

Learning for Sustainability is an international and national priority in education. The GTC Scotland Professional Standards are underpinned by Learning for Sustainability as a key cross-cutting theme.

Professional Guide

Learning for Sustainability - A professional guide for teachers aims to help you understand your responsibility to embed Learning for Sustainability in your practice as part of a whole setting approach and the ways in which it inspires and motivates learners to address the challenges of learning to live within the environmental limits of our planet and to build a just, equitable and peaceful society.

Overview of Learning for Sustainability in the Professional Standards for Scotland's Teachers

Definitions of Learning for Sustainability

‘Learning for Sustainability is a cross-curricular approach, which enables learners, educators, schools and their wider communities to build a socially just, sustainable and equitable society. An effective whole-school and community approach to LfS weaves together global citizenship, sustainable development education and outdoor learning to create coherent, rewarding and transformative learning experiences.

Learning for Sustainability is an important component of Curriculum for Excellence, an entitlement for learners and a core part of teachers’ Professional Standards. It supports the development of knowledge, skills and the values at the heart of the curriculum’s four capacities and provides a mechanism for promoting and working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals’. Scottish Government Learning for Sustainability Action Plan 2019

‘Learning for Sustainability empowers learners of all ages with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to address the interconnected global challenges we are facing, including climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, poverty and inequality. It is a lifelong learning process and an integral part of quality education’. (UNESCO, 2021)

‘Engaged, reflective, empowered and skilled teachers and learners acknowledge Scotland’s place in the world, our history, our differences and diversity, our unique natural environment, and our culture based on social justice. Scotland’s teachers help to embed sustainable and socially-just practices in order to flourish as a nation.’ GTC Scotland Professional Standards 2021

Why is 'Learning for Sustainability' important?

Weaving a Learning for Sustainability ethos throughout your practice and the daily life of your setting and the community around it can help to enable our children and young people to develop the skills, knowledge, values and confidence to thrive in our increasingly complex and challenging world.

Our world faces many social, environmental and economic challenges, and an effective, responsive and inclusive education system is vital if we are to address these. Engaged, reflective, empowered and skilled teachers and learners acknowledge and understand Scotland’s place in the world, our history, our differences and diversity, our unique natural environment, and our culture based on social justice. Scotland’s teachers help to embed sustainable and socially just practices in order to flourish as a nation.

The Professional Standards for Teachers actively support, embrace and promote the principles and practices of sustainability across all aspects. Making a professional commitment to learning and learners that is compatible with the aspiration of achieving a sustainable and equitable world embodies what it is to be a teacher in Scotland.

What does Learning for Sustainability mean for teachers and learners?

In Scotland, Learning for Sustainability is an entitlement for learners. As such, it is a professional requirement for all teachers to demonstrate in your practice the professional values, skills, knowledge and understanding and actions that are compatible with a sustainable and equitable world, as part of an effective whole-school and community commitment.

Learning for Sustainability is inherently interdisciplinary and it offers rich potential for ‘joining the dots’ across educational strategies and curricular areas. Embedding it in your practice as part of a whole-setting approach will enable meaningful, holistic, relevant, inclusive – and ultimately transformative – learning experiences for you and your learners.

Learning for Sustainability has been embedded within the Standard for Headship to support headteachers in actively embracing a robust, demonstrable ‘whole-school’ approach to Learning for Sustainability. This is enabled by headteachers establishing and modelling a coherent, progressive and holistic Learning for Sustainability vision and ethos that supports planning across the curriculum, professional learning and collegial practice.