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Sustainable schools

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Welcome to the sustainable schools section. The aim of this section is to provide all Queensland schools with a central hub for sustainability resources.

Sustainability addresses the ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life. Sustainable patterns of living seek to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations (Australian Curriculum Version 9.0).

As Australia is a United Nations member state, we are guided by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

These goals include eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health and education, and tackling climate change.

Visit the United Nations website to learn about each goal and consider which goals you aim to prioritise in your school and community projects.

Creating a sustainable school

From 2019, schools across Queensland have had the opportunity to become climate ready through sustainable practices which reduce greenhouse gas emissions and costs. Getting your school climate ready also increases your community's resilience to climate change.​

An important component of creating a sustainable school is to develop a whole school plan. A Sustainable Environment Management Plan (SEMP) is a document that sets out the school community's intentions in regards to sustainability education and environmental management. It represents an agreement to work together across the whole school.

A SEMP will help to integrate sustainability considerations into whole-school planning. It will help to implement changes to school culture and everyday practices and to apply the principles of ecologically sustainable development across all school activities.

The step-by-step process of creating a SEMP consists of:

  • reviewing your school's current priorities
  • determining which sustainability issues your SEMP will address
  • writing up action plans to address these issues across five focus areas
  • developing a monitoring and evaluation strategy to track progress.

This sustainable environment management plan template can be downloaded and adjusted to meet the needs of your school.

Competitions, scholarships, awards and grant opportunities

A number of government, corporate and not-for-profit organisations run competitions that offer grants, scholarships and awards to support sustainability projects in schools or involving school communities. Learn more below.

  • Premier's Coding Challenge
    The 2023 Premier's Coding Challenge is now open for entries. It offers students in Years 3–10 the opportunity to showcase their coding skills by developing an app, game or website to create change in the local community or beyond.
  • Sustainability in Action Photo Competition
    The Rockhampton Regional Council's Sustainability in Action Photo Competition is now open to all Rockhampton Region residents and schools. Entries close 5pm 4 August 2023.
  • Earthwatch Student Challenge
    Each year, Earthwatch offers students in Years 10–12 full scholarships to join in week-long research expeditions during the school holidays. Students work in the field alongside Earthwatch scientists, doing hands on research.
  • Waterwise poster or video competition (PDF, 550KB)
    Waterwise supports organisations to run student competitions which raise awareness about a key Waterwise issue in your community.

If you are aware of sustainability competitions, scholarships, awards or grant opportunities please let us know by contacting stem@qed.qld.gov.au.


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Last updated 14 February 2024