This chapter details one project, “Linking for a Change” (LFC), connecting schools and public/social sector providers of education for sustainable (ESD) across eight counties in the South West of England, with the objective of promoting the DfES “sustainable schools” action plan. It presents a discourse regarding the need for new education linkages/networks to emerge in order to enable education systems to evolve in response to the challenges of unsustainable development. A snapshot of ESD, or baseline data set is analysed from 66 schools and 85 ESD providers, leading into an exploration of the extent of the resulting electronic networking, or “e-networking” and its ability to enable cross-sector collaboration. Thus this research questions the fundamental premise behind much networking, using a tested methodology (Kershaw, 2004, 2006) to question the assumption that e-networking results either in change in practice or in increased capacity, that is, that “Linking” leads to change.
Introduction And Objectives
The Purpose of the Project
The purpose of Linking for a Change resides in the need for the South West of England to support the development of sustainable schools across the region as part of the UK’s “Year of Action for Sustainable Schools.” A regional steering group, drawn together around the project aims from a broader coalition for sustainability, created a Web site connecting ESD providers with education establishments for the purpose of information exchange and collaboration, aiming to provide long term support to schools through to 2020. The primary purpose of this research is to draw, or tease out causal relationships and to identify any sector specific ESD actions and responses along with their corresponding support needs, within the data set. The secondary purpose is to generate an overview of the current status of ESD within the sample population against which change can be measured, while an implicit objective within both project and research is to support and instigate both changes in practice and the generation of new educational practice. Thus, the research objectives augment and extend those of the “LFC” project in which the data collection aimed to promote collaboration across education and service providers drawn from local government, the charity and private sectors. By archiving that information electronically and enabling the database to be searched by postcode or key words the project highlights mutual areas of both practice and lack of practice between the schools and the ESD providers.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Knowledge Exchange: The transfer of learning from organisation to organisation.
Personalised Learning: A highly structured and responsive approach to each individual’s learning.
Collaboration: Working together to solve problems that could not be solved in the same way alone.
Education for Sustainable Development: Education which supports development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Formative Evaluation: On-going evaluation which helps to shape the system it is evaluating.
Network: A group of individuals or organisations linked together in a non-hierarchical manner around a shared set of goals.
Innovation: The development of new education methods in response to change