In teaching our students to Think Global-Act Local, we believe that we are helping to create a more just, fair and sustainable world. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 goals that have been agreed on by member nations to promote global citizenship and we use these goals as the focus of much of our teaching across all years and all learning areas.
Margaret River Primary School has won the 2020 Global Goals Challenge and was recognised by the United Nations Association of Australia at a presentation ceremony at school at the end of last term. This award recognised the year wide project that our Year Six students undertake with the Margaret River Nature Conservation Foundation, checking on the health of our waterways and making plans and recommendations for how we can ensure the biodiversity of the catchment into the future.
The judges commented on the outstanding nature of the project and in particular:
the significant scope and long-term, holistic nature;
being embedded in the school’s strategic plan;
integration of several learning areas through the program;
the high degree of student and community engagement;
ecological consciousness and mindfulness of giving back to the river; and
a clear set of targets, including measures applied to the river ecosystem combined with excellent milestones – development of project and of impact over several terms.
In addition to the students winning this prestigious award, our Year Six teachers, Mark Harrison, Peter Delfs, Carey Jose, Ellie Smilovitis and Courtenay Gray were recognised as finalists in the United Nations World Teachers Day Awards for their work in embedding the 17 Sustainable Development Goals across their teaching.
[Written by principal, Aaron Thomas]
Congratulations to our Year Six teachers for their committement to this program, which focuses on four of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Developments:
- Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation
- Goal 14 – Life Below Water
- Goal 15 – Life on Land
- Goal 17 – Partnerships
I asked them to outline the program and give a personal comment on this important learning opportunity. Year 6 teacher, Mark Harrison, gave an overview – explaining that the Margaret River is one of the healthiest rivers in the south west of W.A. with healthy fringing vegetation, good water quality and unique aquatic fauna, but that environmental challenges have been posed by continued population growth and rising recreational demands. He further explained that invasive introduced species also threaten the health and resilience of the river system as do diminishing stream flows associated with climate change. This program focuses on ways to address these issues. He said:
Since 2009 our Year 6 teachers and students have worked in partnership with Margaret River Nature Conservation to protect and enhance the health of our water sources. Our Year 6 students have taken on studies into the health and biodiversity of the Margaret River and the adjacent riparian vegetation, as well as the cultural, environmental, economic and recreational values of the river. Throughout the year students are involved in hands-on programs such as tree planting, water testing and macroinvertebrate studies, field studies and testing, with field trips to local businesses implementing sustainable practices, and follow-up work in the classroom.
Students explore ways to improve current practices and suggest possible courses of action to address key concerns to keep the river clean and pristine for future generations. They present these to the local Shire either as a formal presentation or by writing letters to the Shire.
Involvement in this program,which is firmly anchored on the Global Goals, has seen students making the health of this river their responsibilty, and has made their learning pertinent as they Think Global, but Act Local! In their own words at one of their presentations, they said:
We, as individuals can help build partnerships – it is up to us! We can make a huge difference. After all, we as the youth of the shire are the future custodians of the Margaret River. Our Margaret River. Our Responsibilty. Everyone’s Future!
Year 6 teacher, Carey Jose, said:
Margaret River Primary School has been involved in Cape Catchments for over 15 years. The students have worked together to inform and educate our community about what it takes to create and maintain a healthy river system. We have learnt from farmers, wine makers and our indigenous community about best practice. In 2008 we were involved in revegetation of the Margaret River Rain Garden and we have planted thousands of trees around our region. The work we have been doing with MR Nature Conservation has been reinforced even more with a world focus on Global Goals. This means that we as a school and community, can continue to work together to improve Life above Land and Life below Water.
Year 6 teacher, Courtenay Gray, said:
Cape Catchments is a program that connects the students to a critical environmental issue of a global scale, in a local context. The children see first hand local examples of best practice when it comes to engaging and interacting with their local environment, with a specific focus on THEIR Margaret River. This program equips students with knowledge and skills that will assist them in being the future custodians of the Margaret River.
Year 6 teacher, Peter Delfs, said:
It is extremely important to ensure our students become global citizens by becoming aware of the Global Goals because the children who are in school now will be the adults of the future. Through our studies in class where we integrate the Global goals throughout our lessons on our Inquiry topics, students develop an insight into issues around the world and they work on solutions to these problems by promoting positive change to our way of life. Throughout my lessons it is stressed how important it is that all students realise that they must share the responsibility to spread the word about the Global Goals to a wider audience such as their parents, siblings and local community.
The longevity of the program owes a great deal to the ongoing partnership with MR Nature Conservation and in no small part, to the passion and commitment of these experienced educators! A most deserving achievement being finalists for the United Nations World Teachers Day Award!
Written and photo by D. Veary; Posted by D. Veary