Learning for Sustainability in Falkirk

May 25, 2021
by Y. McBlain

News, Updates and Preparing for COP 26 in Falkirk!

This blog post collates information from the national Learning for Sustainability network for practitioners and senior managers working in Falkirk education establishments. It shares exciting new materials and information about the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties which takes place in Glasgow between 1st -12th November 2021 (known as COP 26 – click the image to visit the official site).

The five themes of this international event are:

  • Nature
  • Clean Transport
  • Energy transition
  • Adaptation and resilience
  • Finance


This link will take you to a Tweet and video clip from the organisers of this event in which David Attenborough explains how vitally important its outcomes are. The Scottish Government commitment to the goals of COP 26 is shared via its Net Zero Scotland campaign which you can learn more about here.

Some of the many education resources for use with pupils connected to COP 26 may already have come to your attention. The links below take you to key national support and teaching materials which you can use next session as part of your usual curriculum content, or for any new subject-specific or interdisciplinary learning contexts you feel will engage your children and young people and contribute to their development of the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence.

To view the recording of the 10.6.21 Education Scotland professional learning session about COP 26 please click here.

To view the Wakelet of resources and ideas created by the Education Scotland LfS team relating to COP 26 click here. 

To explore how you can combine COP 26 learning contexts with your pupils’ development of STEM skills, click here

To explore the professional learning and education resources provided by our Scotdec partners click here

Learn more about the Children’s Parliament Climate Change group, vision and aims by clicking here.

Click here to learn more about the BBC Scotland Climate Tales writing competition for children and young people aged 5-16.

Click here to view an example of the data available about our planet from the NASA website. There is powerful data evidencing the current twin emergencies of climate change and loss of biodiversity including a range of satellite images comparing the same locations over time.

Education Scotland colleagues have set up a GLOW Learning for Sustainability Practitioner Network in MS Teams for practitioners/leaders with an interest in LfS and COP 26. Please use this code o4sj08j to join the network. This Glow LfS MS Teams space will be used to host drop-in sessions, provide support and signpost information/resources. This will also be a space for practitioners to connect with like-minded practitioners and share resources, ideas and practice. The final drop-in session take place between 5-5.45 pm on 17th June 2021.

From early September, colleagues in the Scottish Government and Education Scotland will publicise and co-ordinate a series of opportunities to engage with learning relating to COP 26. There will be daily challenges and activities relating to weekly themes. These will launch on the Monday of each week and there will be things to do each day. This work is being developed right now and will be done with a range of partners. The 5th of November has been identified as “Learning day” focussing on education around climate change, and the 7th November will be community involvement day, so you may appreciate advance notice and want to consider whether/how you and your learners could engage on these dates too.

Ian Menzies, senior development officer for Learning for Sustainability has created this power point presentation (narrated) which is a wonderfully broad overview of Learning for Sustainability and can be used by whole staff groups in education establishments to refresh and review LfS within their curriculum. Ian and colleagues are encouraging practitioners and senior leaders to use the LfS self-evaluation tooklit (click here ) to inform school improvement planning and help with this process.

And finally – for anyone in need of inspiration to do something about climate change – including those with a passion for sport – take a look at BBC Sport 2050 resources here. These include powerful video clips which explore how predicted impact of climate change will affect the sports we are most passionate about AND how sport is already being affected!






This blog post is the first of a series which will share specific Falkirk education establishment COP 26 teaching and learning. Please comment below or email jane.jackson@falkirk.gov.uk or yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk to let us know what you are planning or what we can do to help!

May 25, 2021
by Y. McBlain

Involving Falkirk Bairns – Building the rights of our Children and Young People into planning and processes

Falkirk Children’s Commission – Children’s Rights and Engagement Group are recruiting staff, children and young people to help create our Falkirk Council and Partner organisation Integrated Children’s Services Plan. We are doing this partly because the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, Part 3 – Children’s Services Planning and Part 1 – Rights of Children,  requires Local Authorities and Health Boards, alongside their community planning partners, to improve outcomes for all children and young people in Scotland by ensuring that local planning and delivery of services is integrated and their rights upheld. However, we are also building this Falkirk Children & Young People’s Planning Team because we believe it is essential that pupils’ voices shape their education and life experiences, and because research shows that their participation in decision-making improves their academic performance and life chances. Learn more about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC – recently passed into Scottish Law) by clicking here or by visiting the pages of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland here.

We will work with interested staff colleagues and the children and young people to create this plan and to design the processes needed to make the group and the work sustainable in the long-term. The children and young people joining this group will also plan and co-ordinate other tasks and initiatives. Our main aims are to:

  1. Connect and co-ordinate pupil council and leadership groups in schools, across our health board, community and third sector organisations
  2. Involve children and young people in shaping their own education, lives and communities through integrated organisational processes via our Members of Scottish Youth Parliament
  3. Ensure that our group and processes are truly representative, inclusive and diverse
  4. Establish processes which build children and young people’s voices and participation into all layers of our organisations without adding to bureaucracy.

To help staff in our early learning and childcare centres and schools connect this work with their curriculum, we are making it part of our wider Falkirk Learning for Sustainability Framework (click here for more information about the framework). Children’s Rights and political literacy are already built into the experiences and outcomes of Curriculum for Excellence and our framework includes plans and professional learning which early years officers and teachers can use. The work of the Falkirk Children & Young People’s Planning Team will be supported by Julie Williams our Rights Respecting Schools development officer alongside Fiona Malcolm, Faculty Head of Humanities, Braes HS. Fiona and Julie will liaise with schools and centres who are working towards Rights Respecting Schools Accreditation (click here for more information about this) and education support officers Yvonne McBlain and Jane Jackson will offer professional learning and co-ordinate the development of safe online collaboration via a Microsoft Team in Glow.

Please leave your comments below or email yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk or jane.jackson@falkirk.gov.uk for more information or to help with this exciting work.

February 15, 2021
by Y. McBlain

Sustainability Partnerships – The Future Speaks Event for Young People

Callum MacLellan of Sustainability Scotland is helping to organise online events in the 8 electoral areas of Scotland where S5/6 school pupils ask questions of local representatives from the five main political parties. Climate change is the most important issue that faces humanity and it is vitally important that politicians take it seriously. On Friday 2nd April at 5pm young people from Central Scotland high schools will be quizzing local representatives from the 5 main political parties about climate change at an online event. You can watch this live by registering here , to stream live from Facebook click here and you can also watch later via YouTube here.

Please do what you can to spread the word so that as many people as possible (young and old) are aware of this opportunity to question political leaders about their views on climate change. Sustainability Partnerships would be happy to pass on urgent questions about climate change to the main Scottish political parties. Send these to: howard.beck@sustainabilitypartnerships.org.uk


February 8, 2021
by J. Jackson

Useful links and further reading

As an integral part of our ‘LfS in Falkirk Framework’ we have started a series of CLPL courses aimed at practitioners and managers.  These courses will be introducing what we hope will be a useful framework for schools and practitioners to put LfS at the heart of planning, teaching and learning.

There are lots of other resources and materials which will help in this process, some of which are signposted below:

More information about the Falkirk LfS framework can be found here

Self evaluation tools:

The General Teaching Council for Scotland have a really useful, simple self evaluation wheel which very quickly helps you to identify what you are currently doing and where there might be potential gaps.

Self-evaluation Wheel: Learning for Sustainability | General Teaching Council for Scotland (gtcs.org.uk)


Education Scotland have produced a comprehensive self evaluation framework

There is also a summary version which can be accessed here


Professional responsibilities

The GTC for Scotland have produced a guide “to help you understand your responsibility to embed Learning for Sustainability in your practice, inspiring and motivating 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.” Find out more via this link:

GTCS Professional Guide – LfS

Learning for Sustainability is integral to the GTCS Professional Standards Framework. Further information about this can be found on the link below.
What does LfS mean for me?

National guidance and further reading

There is a really useful summary of LfS resources on the The National Improvement Hub which can be accessed here


There are some useful videos showcasing individual inspirational projects in schools linked to LfS. Click here to access them.

Scottish Government commissioned Edinburgh University to review literature relating to the educational impact of LfS.  The result was published in March 2020 and can be accessed here

“The findings are significant for both policy and practice as they position LfS as an excellent context through which all aspects of CfE can flourish, enabling learners to develop and display the values and dispositions outlined in its ‘four capacities’.”



In 2015 LfS was the subject of one of Education Scotland’s ‘Opening up Great Learning’ documents.  It is a great introduction to what LfS is all about as well as showcasing some examples of good practice and providing ideas for taking LfS forward.  The PDF can be accessed here


January 21, 2021
by Y. McBlain

January 2021 Professional Learning Opportunities

Upcoming professional learning in Falkirk:

LfS 6-2021 9th February 2021 3.30-5 pm – Building LfS into your curriculum – introducing the Falkirk LfS framework and exploring how it can support your integration of LfS within your curriculum and the broad general education

LfS 7-2021 4th February 2021 3.30-5pm – An Introduction to Learning for Sustainability for practitioners and senior managers who are at the beginning of their LfS journey and would like to explore how the Falkirk LfS Framework can help

Professional learning information and opportunities available nationally – shared by Ian Menzies, Senior Development Officer, Education Scotland:

AimHi virtual sessionsclimate change and the biology curriculum – Education Scotland is partnering with AimHi to deliver three inspiring virtual sessions on LfS/Biology themes for learners and their families. The AimHi Team have delivered sessions to many thousands of viewers in over 100 countries and we’re delighted to be working with them to develop exclusive sessions specifically for the Scottish Curriculum. These have excellent guests  are not to be missed and there is still time to access 2 sessions (ideal for those interested in/studying biology) which focus on the future of food and farms and re-wilding in Scotland. The sessions are targeted at learners and their families, link to our national STEM focus,  and run at 7:00pm on the 27 January and 3 February 2021. Click here for details.

New LfS Guide – GTCS has launched a new Learning for Sustainability guide for teachers in partnership with Learning for Sustainability Scotland. The guide aims to help teachers understand their responsibility to embed Learning for Sustainability in their practice, inspiring and motivating 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. A professional learning module is to follow – click here to to view the guide.

Food, STEM & Sustainability Online Teacher Training  The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET), The Rowett Institute, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) are offering teachers and educators online training opportunities highlighting the importance of food. The online training (endorsed by Education Scotland) covers four main subject areas – Technology & Engineering, Health & Wellbeing, Maths (Big Data) and Food & Climate. Click here to register for online sessions and webinars – the online training site will go live in February.

Creative Thinking Qualification Pilot Programme  Working alongside Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh College, Daydream Believers has created a SCQF level 5 and level 6 award in Creative Thinking. The award provides a valuable framework for a wide variety of themes including STEM and Learning for Sustainability. Click here to register for the workshop on 29 January if you would like to know more about piloting the award in the 2020/2021 academic session.

Carbon calculators and resources – Two new online tools to support learning about sustainability and UK progress towards its net zero ambitions:

  • My 2050 – click here to explore this interactive online resource to help learners create strategies towards the UK’s 2050 net zero target:
  • MacKay Carbon Calculator – Click here to explore this more detailed model of the UK energy system and potential pathways to decarbonisation, including net zero by 2050

November 12, 2020
by Y. McBlain

Learning for Sustainability Update – November 2020

Yvonne McBlain and Jane Jackson have liaised with partners to build a programme of professional learning and resources for the next few months. This programme will be sent to all Falkirk establishments in November via our Children’s Services Weekly Communication email, and regular updates will follow. We hope it supports colleagues with their ongoing development of curriculum during this unusual school session.


Learning For Sustainability – CLPL and Resources – The following sessions can be accessed on CPD Manager:


LfS 3-2021:  26th November – Developing Social Enterprise in Education as part of your schools LfS

This session is being run by one of our LfS partners Social Enterprise Academy and will introduce this exciting project that could see your pupils taking part in a Dragons Den!


LfS 4-2021: 1st and 15th December – Outdoor Journeys

Find out how local area journeys can enable young people to find out about the people and place in which they live in a fun and engaging way.  Keep Scotland Beautiful will be facilitating this session with links to how Outdoor Journeys can be part                                                              of your wider outdoor learning and LfS curriculum.


LfS 7-2021: 4th February – An Introduction to LfS

A session aimed at practitioners with limited knowledge of LfS.  As well as finding out what LfS is all about you will get resources linked to a Falkirk LfS framework that is being developed.

LfS 6-2021: 9th February Building LfS in to your curriculum

Aimed at practitioners with some prior knowledge of LfS this session will explore the Falkirk LfS framework and associated progressive IDL ‘bundles’.

 Other LfS CLPL opportunities

Scotdec are delighted to share with you professional learning opportunities around Learning for Sustainability for November and December 2020. All courses are free and take place online.

Secondary teachers

The future we want – a series of subject focussed webinars for secondary teachers wanting to explore how and why a global citizenship approach can add value to your teaching.

  • Active citizenship through maths – 3 December, 14 January and 11 February 5 – 6.30pm


  • Active citizenship through modern languages – 8 December 5 – 6.30pm


All teachers

Speak up! Race, bias and my classroom – a digital workshop series for teachers interested in exploring Anti-Racist education – for more information see attached fliers.

  • Edinburgh’s Black History –  24 November 4.30 – 6pm
  • Towards and Anti-Racist classroom  – 25 November and 2 December 4.30 – 6pm

Teaching for the Sustainable Development Goals – a series of webinars focussing on specific SDGs and how to engage young people with key global issues. Follow the links for more information and to register.

  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Fairtrade – 19 November 4 – 5.30pm


  • SDG 16: Young people, democracy and political literacy – 2 December 4 – 5.40pm


  • SDG 13: Climate Action – 3 December 5 – 6.30pm



April 28, 2020
by Y. McBlain

Support for Learning for Sustainability during Covid 19 School Closures

This post is designed to collate the many Learning for Sustainability teaching and learning resources available to practitioners during school closures as a result of Covid 19. Obviously most of these sources will still be relevant and accessible when we reach “the new normal”. Jane Jackson and Yvonne McBlain, curriculum support officers compiled these links and wish you and yours well during these challenging times. Please contact jane.jackson@falkirk.gov.uk with any queries you have and click as directed below to access each resource.

Click here to open the Sway presentation created to give you an overview of Learning for Sustainability as part of your whole-school curriculum – this presentation also provides links to key reading about LfS.

Click here to open the Sway presentation created by Yvonne and Jane to share the LfS bundle planning they are working on with practitioners in a few Falkirk schools. We will soon add a link to a new Learning for Sustainability Team where Falkirk practitioners and senior leaders can access these new plans and help us develop this key curriculum support.

Click here to browse outdoor learning specific support from our Outdoor Learning Blog

Click here to access a new Sway presentation which Yvonne has prepared to collate reading and policy documents about pupil voice, participation and empowerment. Pupil voice, rights, participation and citizenship are all part of Learning for Sustainability.

Education Scotland have a summary of all LfS support materials in the National Improvement Hub here.





Click here if you would like to take advantage of the British Council/UKAid CLPL opportunity for training in Learning for Sustainability- offer closes 30th April 2020

This link will take you to the support page of Keep Scotland Beautiful, and you may already have spottted their message regarding Green Flag/Eco Schools award submissions which you have pending.

Scotdec have a brilliant range of teaching and learning support materials available by clicking here



Social Enterprise Academy also offer resources and support online by clicking here and are exploring how their popular Dragons’ Den events can happen virtually and some of you may have been due to attend their awards ceremony – watch this space. Jane and Yvonne will update this post with further information – get in touch with any additional links or sources please.

June 15, 2018
by Y. McBlain

Bantaskin Primary School Eats Sustainably

In August 2017 Alistair Findlay, acting principal teacher at Bantaskin PS began to work with primary 5, 6 and & 7 pupils on a “Good Food” project. This project developed from recommendations in the Better Eating, Better Learning document and was instigated by findings from the Healthy Living surveys which take place each year. Evidence from the 2017 survey showed that only 30% of primary 5-7 children were eating fruit daily, and only one fifth of pupils ate vegetables daily.

Alistair therefore saw potential to improve healthy eating habits across the school and the decision was taken to appoint a food technologist to support this aim. Alistair worked with a RACI group of colleagues to plan and teach a series of lessons which included:

  1. Learning about why it is important to have a balanced diet
  2. Learning about the Eat Well plate and recommendations
  3. Developing a range of skills for life including cooking & food preparation, horticulture and growing healthy ingredients for our cooking from seeds, etc.

A kitchen classroom was created within school to facilitate all of this learning and ensure that the new Food and Health experiences and outcomes and benchmarks could be addressed fully. This project extended to enabling parents to become involved in developing their cooking skills and cooking healthy, affordable meals within the school, gradually gaining a REHIS Elementary Cooking Skills Certificate. Susan Kennedy, NHS, supported Alistair and the group in designing this elementary course for parents. Jennifer Robertson from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) also supported the school by cooking with parents one afternoon – a tasty beef stir fry resulting from this collaboration. Both parents and their children took a trip to Bonnyhill Farm to see where their food came from and gain a deeper understanding of the impact of food miles. This visit was supported by collaboration with RHET (Royal Highland Education Trust).

The project involved other partnership working, including Jamie Stevenson from Torwood Garden Centre who donated plants for the evolving “Growzone” – the name pupils gave to their school garden. The school also registered with the Royal Horticultural Society and within a single academic year, has achieved levels 1, 2 and 3 of the Gardening in Schools RHS Award.

A team of gardening parents and grandparents now maintain the school orchard as well as helping pupils with heavy labour required in their Growzone.  The success of the Growzone also benefits from weekly input from gardening volunteer Lorraine Milligan.  These collaborations have all extended pupil opportunities to develop skills beyond school and to gain a broader understanding of skills for work. In addition they have developed the ethos and life of their school as part of its community.

These collaborations have all extended pupil opportunities to develop skills beyond school and to gain a broader understanding of skills for work. In addition they have developed the ethos and life of their school as part of its community.

Yvonne McBlain popped in to get a flavour (no pun intended) of the impact all of this excellent work was having. She very much enjoyed seeing the school displays and awards gained, and meeting Gail Henderson, the school’s food technologist and the pupils she was working with. Primary 4 pupils had chopped & cut to make a cucumber and mint dip with the herbs from their garden. Throughout the school pupils look at and talk about their plants and garden during lunch times and breaks, they look after the garden well, pointing out when plants need water. They are also excited about harvesting their current crop and turning these into delicious meals and snacks.

Alistair and colleagues will harvest crops which mature over the summer and preserve these in the school freezer so that pupils can use these later in the session. Plans for next year include the building of a polytunnel so that children can sow and grow their  crops earlier and perhaps expand the range of things they can cultivate.

January 30, 2017
by Y. McBlain

National Learning for Sustainability Practitioner Network Meeting


On Wednesday 18th January 2016, Yvonne McBlain attended the Learning for Sustainability practitioner network meeting organised by Ian Menzies, Senior Development Officer, Education Scotland. The event lasted all day and was organised around short “spotlight” presentations by practitioners, followed by longer opportunities to talk with other delegates from around the country. The people delivering the spotlights represented each educational sector and were:

Anne O’Grady & colleagues from Chesters Nursery in Glasgow

Debra May from East Craigs Primary in Edinburgh

Sandra Buchan from Kemnay Academy in Aberdeenshire

Rebecca Chad from Pilrig Park School in Edinburgh

Each person described how they were taking the various elements of Learning for Sustainability forward in their establishment. Anne’s nursery were combining their LfS (especially their outdoor learning) with Health and well-Being (development of pupils’ mental, social, physical & emotional health). They had a range of projects designed to build up the Ethos and Life of their nursery, and increase family and community involvement.

Debra described her role as the leader of a RACI working group in her school, who were tasked with developing LfS across the school. She shared their progress so far. Sandra’s development of LfS as part of her secondary school development plan (she is faculty head of science) also overlapped with her subject-specific responsibilities. She is gradually building up colleague understanding of what LfS actually is, then supporting them in small projects which progress and enhance their pupil experiences. Sandra and Debra both described how some of their colleagues were planning interdisciplinary LfS teaching which linked to the Sustainable Development goals.

Rebecca had recently returned to her role as head teacher of Pilrig following a “Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce” secondment with Education Scotland. She shared some of the practice she had observed in that role, to illustrate how practitioners could also target skills for work when developing their LfS. She is working with colleagues to make LfS meaningful and enjoyable for her pupils with severe and complex educational needs. All of these practitioners would be happy to welcome visitors wanting to see their LfS in action.

During the discussion times, Yvonne was tasked with finding out how other authorities are supporting practitioners in their development of LfS. She met the Leaders of LfS Learning from Stirling council, who are now developing an LfS practitoner network across their schools. Colleagues from Highland Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council are working towards supporting and encouraging practitioners in similar ways. Everyone agreed that there is still a need to develop awareness of the many elements of Learning for Sustainability, and to reassure practitioners that they are already covering elements of it. Jane Jackson and Yvonne have been working with our own Falkirk LfS practitioner network for a few years now – initially focusing on Outdoor Learning. The next national practitioner network meeting takes place in Stirling Court Hotel in March.

Click here to join the national Learning for Sustainability network group in Glow – this will enable you to access resources, and connect with other practitioners working on LfS. Click here to see the presentation used during this meeting.

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