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The Take 1 Programme – Embedding Education for Sustainable Development in Second Level Schools

The Take 1 Programme supports second level schools to communicate, raise awareness of, and embed Education for Sustainable Development in learning and teaching, as part of a ‘whole school’ approach.

 The Take 1 Programme was developed to address ongoing and emerging concerns aligned to climate action and climate justice. Viewed  through the broad lens of sustainability and global citizenship, it has an ambition to provide all students with an opportunity to engage in learning about the interconnected nature of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while reflecting the central transformative promise to “leave no one behind” (United Nations, 2015)

Targeting post primary senior leaders, participants are provided with an introduction to education for sustainable development (ESD). They are guided through a process of embedding information aligned to global citizenship, sustainability and the SDGS in learning and teaching, through the learning outcomes of Junior Cycle subjects. By mapping learning to the prescribed syllabus of every subject, the Take 1 Programme demonstrates a built-in approach, which can be experienced as a natural element of formal and non-formal learning. The training programme, highlights how every student in every class through every subject, can experience the interdependent nature and impact of ESD.

Following Take 1 Programme training, participants are encouraged to put their understanding into action by engaging in in-school activities which showcase their learning. Activities can occur in the formal, non-formal or informal school community and can demonstrate ongoing actions or the beginning of their schools’ ESD journey. There are two structured opportunities for schools to showcase their engagement – May Day for Sustainability and Take 1 Week.

Take 1 Week is an opportunity for a more comprehensive demonstration of engagement, where teachers are invited to teach 1 Class group, 1 Lesson, about 1 SDG over the course of 1 Week. Activities are shared on the school twitter account, including a brief description of events including a photograph or image, encouraging schools to demonstrate whole school commitment and collaboration.

The Take 1 Programme approach reflects the recently updated text of Looking at Our School 2022 and responds to the principles which view schools as “dynamic learning organisations” and “students as active agents in their learning (p. 9). In the statements of practice included in the domains of the Learning & Teaching dimension, students are recognised “as key contributors to our sustainable future” and supports them to be “enabled to act responsibly for a more sustainable world”(p. 27).  In Leadership & Management,  effective practice aligned to sustainability encourages schools to demonstrate how it values and promotes a commitment to sustainable development through practice and policies embedding the “principles of sustainability in the daily routines of the school” (p38)

The proposed introduction of the Senior Cycle subject Climate Action and Sustainable Development is welcome, and responds to student concerns and interests aligned to this comprehensive topic. However, for those students who will not have the prospect of studying this new subject, the Take 1 Programme provides an opportunity for engagement which can motivate and empower them to become informed active citizens. The Take 1 Programme is not intended to be utilised ‘instead of’, but rather to compliment, working side by side to highlight the interconnected nature of global citizenship.

The Department of Education currently funds the Take 1 Programme and considers it “an important element of its 2nd National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development” as it endeavours to equip learners with the relevant knowledge (the ‘what’), the key dispositions and skills (the ‘how’) and the values (the ‘why’) that will inspire them to become informed active citizens (DE 2022, p17).  The programme is offered to all second level schools in Ireland through online or in person training and invites expressions of interest from principals and deputy principals across all sectors.

*The Take 1 Programme has been designed and developed by Valerie Lewis. It is endorsed by the Centre for School Leadership (CSL) as a programme of leadership professional learning in the categories of Teacher Leader, Middle Leader, New Senior Leader and Established Leader3F.

Contact Valerie at  [email protected]


Social Media: @Take1_programme

Further reading:

From Policy to Practice: Education for Sustainable Development through the Lens of Looking at Our School 2022 (Ireland’s Education Yearbook 2022)