Queensland Sustainable Schools

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Department of Education and Training

What is a School Environmental Management Plan?

A School Environment Management Plan (SEMP) is a document that sets out the school community's intentions in regard to environmental education and environmental management. It represents an agreement to work together across the whole school.

A SEMP will help to integrate environmental 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 environmental issues your SEMP will address
  • writing up action plans to address these issues across the five focus areas
  • developing a monitoring and evaluation strategy to track progress.

Standard practice

School environmental planning conforms with trends in industry and government in which environmental management systems (EMS) are increasingly being introduced in accordance with the International Standard ISO 14001. The Standard requires industry and government organisations to adopt sustainable practices at a local level. This International Standard is accepted throughout Australia and is endorsed by most QLD government departments. Local government has also implemented environmental planning and reporting through 'state of the environment' reports.

A School Environment Management Plan (SEMP) is a document that sets out the school community's intentions in regard to environmental education and environmental management. It represents an agreement to work together across the whole school.

A SEMP will help to integrate environmental 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 environmental issues your SEMP will address
  • writing up action plans to address these issues across the five focus areas
  • developing a monitoring and evaluation strategy to track progress.

Standard practice

School environmental planning conforms with trends in industry and government in which environmental management systems (EMS) are increasingly being introduced in accordance with the International Standard ISO 14001. The Standard requires industry and government organisations to adopt sustainable practices at a local level. This International Standard is accepted throughout Australia and is endorsed by most QLD government departments. Local government has also implemented environmental planning and reporting through 'state of the environment' reports.

Environmental Education for Sustainability in Queensland

"There can be few more pressing and critical goals for the future of humankind than to ensure steady improvement in the quality of life for this and future generations, in a way that respects our common heritage - the planet we live on." (UNESCO)

Environmental education for sustainability has been a feature of Education Queensland schools for more than 30 years. In many schools it has been creatively incorporated into the curriculum in each phase of learning, and is also reflected in the school's facilities and in the actions of its teachers. (See the Statement on Sustainability for all Queensland Schools - PDF, 41KB).

Sustainability is also a cross-curriculum priority area for the Australian Curriculum.

Developing a SEMP in Catholic schools helps to implement the ecological vision statement for Catholic schools outlined by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission. The Commission advocates that Catholic schooling authorities establish or enhance long-term goals of education for sustainable futures by:

  • adopting a whole school approach to implementation of sustainable practices which become embedded in all aspects of schools’ operations
  • developing in learners, the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and values supporting the integrity of all creation and the dignity of the human person which are conducive to the achievement of a sustainable future
  • understanding and reflecting critically upon the interconnectedness of spiritual, social, cultural, economic and ecological dimensions at local, national and global levels
  • developing an ethic of personal responsibility and stewardship towards all aspects of the environment
  • promoting awareness of and respect for spirituality, cultural diversity, values and traditions of other cultures, with particular attention to Australian indigenous culture.

See Educating for Sustainable Futures in Catholic Schools (PDF, 84KB) and the Catholic Earthcare Resources website.

"There can be few more pressing and critical goals for the future of humankind than to ensure steady improvement in the quality of life for this and future generations, in a way that respects our common heritage - the planet we live on." (UNESCO)

Environmental education for sustainability has been a feature of Education Queensland schools for more than 30 years. In many schools it has been creatively incorporated into the curriculum in each phase of learning, and is also reflected in the school's facilities and in the actions of its teachers. (See the Statement on Sustainability for all Queensland Schools - PDF, 41KB).

Sustainability is also a cross-curriculum priority area for the Australian Curriculum.

Developing a SEMP in Catholic schools helps to implement the ecological vision statement for Catholic schools outlined by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission. The Commission advocates that Catholic schooling authorities establish or enhance long-term goals of education for sustainable futures by:

  • adopting a whole school approach to implementation of sustainable practices which become embedded in all aspects of schools’ operations
  • developing in learners, the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and values supporting the integrity of all creation and the dignity of the human person which are conducive to the achievement of a sustainable future
  • understanding and reflecting critically upon the interconnectedness of spiritual, social, cultural, economic and ecological dimensions at local, national and global levels
  • developing an ethic of personal responsibility and stewardship towards all aspects of the environment
  • promoting awareness of and respect for spirituality, cultural diversity, values and traditions of other cultures, with particular attention to Australian indigenous culture.

See Educating for Sustainable Futures in Catholic Schools (PDF, 84KB) and the Catholic Earthcare Resources website.

SEMP Tool Focus Areas

The SEMP Tool on this website provides schools with the choice of the following focus areas:

  • teaching and learning resources on environmental education for sustainability
  • resource management for water conservation, waste minimisation and energy efficiency
  • planning for biodiversity and school grounds improvement
  • whole-school governance for sustainability
  • partnerships between the school and its community. 

The SEMP Tool on this website provides schools with the choice of the following focus areas:

  • teaching and learning resources on environmental education for sustainability
  • resource management for water conservation, waste minimisation and energy efficiency
  • planning for biodiversity and school grounds improvement
  • whole-school governance for sustainability
  • partnerships between the school and its community. 

Successful SEMPs

The most successful SEMPs involve the entire community and having a long-term vision which everyone can work towards and contribute to. 
The most successful SEMPs involve the entire community and having a long-term vision which everyone can work towards and contribute to. 

My SEMP

If you are from a school and you are ready to start a SEMP go to My School Environmental Management Plan in the left column.
If you are from a school and you are ready to start a SEMP go to My School Environmental Management Plan in the left column.