By Ann Finlayson

Change – what is it good for? Absolutely everything!

How often have you heard someone say they hate change? Maybe you say it yourself?

But the truth is we all cope with change constantly from birth upwards. Nothing is static. In life, in the world, in nature, in our communities.

What continues to surprise me is how little people understand about change, how it happens, how it works once you are in it, or even how to encourage or lead change. It is a fundamental part of all the work SEEd does – its training, its advocacy and advice and its collaborations.

The second myth I hear a lot is ‘If we make people aware they will change’. What is now pleasing to hear is many people understand that this is a myth – and that means that education for sustainability comes into its own with its transformative pedagogies. It is difficult to let go of the idea that not only are we not always rational beings, but our decisions are not often ‘rational’ either. Sometimes taking a leap can have unexpected results as with SEEd’s work with Our Shared World (OSW).

I have been delighted to work with the Our Shared World almost since its inception 3 years ago and in depth in the last year as the coalition has moved to its second phase. This is probably one of the biggest, broadest coalitions in sustainability and global education now in the UK (with at least 200 organisations on board) and as it grows it changes. The majority now say they do education for sustainability for example. During this last year we have had 2 major events that have stimulated action and debate. The first was COP 26 and at that the UK Government released its draft Sustainability and Climate Change Education Strategy. I am on 2 of the advisory groups for the strategy. The OSW ‘Did you COP that?’ monthly events have delved into the strategy in depth have been really useful, not just to us as a coalition, but also in feeding back to the DfE team and developing an OSW response. Our approach has been to hear new voices, to have young people engaged wherever we can and to stimulate discussion with provocations. Our next two sessions are on what are being termed ‘green skills’, and instead of just looking at vocational skills we are examining what this might look like as a life-long learning journey from early years onwards. Do join us.

The second surprise was the take up of our campaign to change the Education Act to include a purpose of education – ‘to care for oneself, care for others and care for the environment’. The inclusion of this in Lord Jim Knights Private Members Bill is great and it has been good briefing him and supporting him with the breadth of evidence that OSW could find quickly to support him. OSW have put this forward – the Act and evidence as their two objectives currently.

Finally, a large group in OSW is building our own understanding of how we can facilitate a social movement to embed this purpose of education into grassroots practice. We are operating on a “What if the Bill does not pass?’ premise. This has been a major learning for all of us and very different from most people current ways of operating. If this is of interest more of this is May!

The biggest change for me is the coming together of groups and organisations who used to believe we were in competition with each other and the enjoyment of learning from each other, feeling part of a big group and being able to have their say. There have been many instances of people reflecting on what they are hearing from others. The feedback is how much people are enjoying this and even sometimes having fun! And the coalition has more than doubled in the past year. We have more in common than we thought and that hopefully will give us strength to continue to push for change in education so it truly prepares our young people for contributing to a sustainable future.