Environment Education Victoria has honoured Deputy Principal, Ms Nicola Forrest, with an Excellence Award for her tireless work to embed sustainable education into the Cornish College curriculum.
Nicola Forrest works with students, staff, parents and others in our community to deepen understandings of what sustainability is. She leads a passionate teaching team and ensures our curriculum promotes sustainability in its widest sense. Teachers make great use of our 100-acre campus to support environmental education and to teach ‘natural sustainability’. However, natural sustainability is balanced and taught in connection with personal, socio-cultural and urban/technological aspects of sustainability too – these form our Rings of sustainability. Cornish College educators understand and look through these four rings as lenses when designing the curriculum, with an understanding that we can’t be sustainable unless we are conscious of all other aspects of sustainability.
Sustainability has been at the core of the Cornish College curriculum in the five years since the school opened in 2012. It is inextricably linked to the curriculum and culture of the school. Nicola Forrest has kept sustainable education at the centre of the curriculum because she believes in, and has a passion for, education that provides the necessary skills for a global world. This is with the aim of developing lifelong learners who will choose to act sustainably and to be alert to the many possible ways we can make a difference.
Dr Peter Morgan, Secondary Teacher at Cornish College, said: “It is Nicola’s willingness to remind us all of our core values of sustainable education, and the importance of embedding it deeply within our curriculum, along with her capacity to work with staff, students and community to deepen their understanding of what sustainability is, that makes her a unique and powerful force in educating for a sustainable future.”
Nicola has led a host of Environmental Education initiatives, some examples of these are:
Victoria’s Interdependent Ecology Program
In 2016 the curriculum was re-conceptualised and a new inquiry based on interdependent ecology was incorporated. Following a submission made by Nicola Forrest, Cornish College became one of 12 Primezone Partner Schools funded by the Primary Industries Educational Foundation Australia. The funding helped Year 9B establish the Aquaponics system as part of their unit of inquiry into Victoria’s Interdependent Ecology. Make A Difference Week provided the opportunity to bring their plans to life as the students physically built the system, along with a new ‘Frog Bog’.
Nicola Forrest’s successful application for a $500 Sensory Garden Grant, as part of the 2016 Victorian Schools Gardens Awards, was based on aim to build a labyrinth for everyone in our community to use. A design in now in progress incorporating many indigenous plants.
Make a Difference Experience – Thailand and Laos
In 2016 Nicola Forrest, along with a large group of teachers, took part in the Make a Difference Experience (MADE). MADE is an important component of the Year 9 Global Sustainability course at Cornish College. Students are tasked with looking for commonalities as well as differences in order to understand the cultural dynamic of Thailand or Laos and their people. The experience led to students growing in confidence and self-awareness through confronting challenges beyond their familiar environment. Our students develop a global outlook as they move beyond stereotypical views and grow to appreciate their own and a different culture.