There are many whole school or whole institution approaches – some are awards, some are based on standards. The SEEd model is based on a developmental learning model made transparent for students and staff alike, and does not rely on anyone being an expert.

SEEd founder, Ann Finlayson, has been involved in national and international whole school approach design for over 20 years. Firstly at WWF-UK (Pathways), then with the Department of Education (Sustainable Schools Initiative), then with the Sustainable Schools Alliance, and finally with UNESCO through their GAP programme (2014-2019). The SEEd model is a distillation of all those well-evidenced examples. In addition, it is now matched to the new Department of Education’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy.

Evidence shows that whole school approaches to learning for sustainability deliver increased student engagement, better learning outcomes across all subjects, more motivated students, support for the school from the wider community, and a sustained programme even with staff turnover.

Use our free audit tools and step-by-step instructions on this page to devise your own whole institution action plan.

SEEd Whole Institution Approach Audit Tool

SEEd’s model is a practical, tested approach that models a learning approach to sustainability (not being perfect!) and enables year-on-year improvement. This process will help you explore new ways of thinking that involves the whole community surrounding your school, or organisation, to effect a culture change towards sustainability. Our whole institution approach framework covers five domains: governance, curriculum, facilities, community and stakeholders, research & action learning. The process is flexible, so you can utilise existing development plans, other programmes or tools you like as part of this model.

How to get started

To give you a baseline of understanding/attitudes to sustainability in your organisation, ask all stakeholders to complete our online attitudinal survey. The survey is part of the SEEd Youth Listening Project and over 3000 young people and adults have already completed it. SEEd members can request a code to be used on the survey to enable us to send back a data report of all the responses from your organisation. Next, follow the steps below to do the audit and create your action plan.

  1. Register below for access to the three documents you will need to prepare: backgrounder, outline framework and audit questions.
  2. Identify who in your organisation will have the answers to some of the questions in the audit. Work with members of your organisation individually, or in a meeting, to collectively answer the questions.
  3. Now transfer the answers you have collected in step 2 to our online SEEd WIA audit form. We will send you the completed form back. If you have a SEEd membership you can request free mentoring plus a report comparing your audit data to other organisations that have taken part.
  4. Use your audit data to develop an action plan for the year ahead. Engage everyone! Use your school development or institutional development plan if you have one in place.
  5. Re-do the audit and revise your action plan year-on-year. Keep up the communication between stakeholders. Decide what has gone well and what could be improved.
  6. Celebrate your achievements! Every step towards more sustainable practice plays its part in transforming the whole institution and helps young people learn how to live and work sustainably. Please do share your learning with us at

Register to receive the SEEd Whole Institution Approach documents

You can access our backgrounder, outline framework and audit questions by completing the form below. The links to the documents will be displayed on this page and will also be emailed to you. Thank you

We'll keep you informed of all the latest news from SEEd, including upcoming events, CPD opportunities and other ways to make an impact in your school, organisation or community. You can unsubscribe at any time.