I will do it my way: C.C. Armuli, Iceland

Comprehensive College of Armuli, Iceland:

I will do it my way“ – Sustainable School Policy of the Comprehensive College of Armuli

Helmut Hinrichsen– C.C. Armuli ICT coordinator

Actually it should say: „Let them do it their way“, but it was tempting to quote from Frank Sinatra‘s famous song „My way“ – meaning that each and every one of us can use their own approach to sustainability.

The Comprehensive College of Armuli first received the Green flag in 2006, the first Upper Secondary School in Iceland, for introducing an environmentally friendly school policy. Every two years the school had to show progress and then apply again.We established our Environment Council in order to transform the school step by step into an environmentally friendly school. Garbage sorting was introduced, starting with paper, plastic and residual waste. We are currently recycling in six catagories: paper, bottles and cans, plastic, metal, compost and residual waste. Disposable plastic coffee cups have been replaced with coffee mugs.

In 2009 a new campaign was launched in Iceland under the name „Health promoting schools“ coordinated by the Directorate of Health. The Comprehensive College of Armuli first particapted in 2010 and is now in its third year of participation. As a result of the health promoting campaign, all soft drinks were banned from the school and so were sweets. Students and staff participated in nation wide competitions on „Cycling to work“ and „Running for a better life“. After getting the third place in „Cycling to work“ in 2012, our school won the new competition „Cycling to school“ in 2013 and shared the first place in „Running for a better life“ in 2013 with another school of similar size. Every morning porridge is offered for free in the school canteen giving many students a better way of starting their school day.

In autumn 2012 we started in an Comenius school partnership project under the umbrella of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission. The name of the project is „Sustainable School Indicators“. The Coordinating school of the partnership is Ralleio General Lyceum in Pireaus, Greece, with partner schools from Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and Iceland.

At first I thought it would be just another project on environmental issues, collecting batteries, old electrical equipment etc. But then I read the articles on Sustainable School Policy sent to us by Dimitris Kalaitzidis, Principal of Ralleio General Lyceum and enthusiastic initiator of the project. Suddenly I realized the great opportunity the „Sustainable School Indicator“ project could offer for our school.

We were able to unite our different goals and campaigns under one umbrella, the „Sustainable School“. The Environment Council of the school was renamed as Sustainable School Council. The first step of the council was to introduce a Sustainable School Policy as part of the school curriculum. Our next step was to make a Sustainable Management and Activity Plan, which was divided into four categories: pedagogical indicators, social and organizational indicators, environmental, economic and technical indicators and health promoting indicators.

The unique element in our approach was the form of our Sustainable Management and Activity Plan[1]. The Sustainable School Policy was introduced to all members of staff and then, students and staff were asked to come up with their own ideas for one goal in one of the four categories. The goals had to be well defined, including a clear description of the activities planned to achieve the goal, specifying an indicator to evaluate if the goal had been achieved and, finally, appointing a person or group to be responsible for the goal. Thirty goals were submitted equally divided between the four categories.

After one year it was no suprise that some of the goals were achieved but others had failed.There was never any pressure to succeed, just trying was success anyway.

In spring 2013 we had a visitor from Australia at our school who came to do research on sustainability education and practice in the Scandinavian countries. Bill Thomas is teacher at Bentleigh Secondary College in Melbourne, Australia, and a pioneer in the field of sustainability education.

He was very impressed by our Sustainable Management and Activity Plan.

„Iceland: The Sustainable Management and Activity Plan (SMAP) implementation that I saw was very effective way of delivering a school wide approach to sustainability education. It positively engages staff and allows for them to take full responsibility for the delivery, evaluation and reporting back on one aspect of the overall school plan. Their outside school programs have great significance for educating students in the field. There is also merit in adopting the UNESCO Indicators of Sustainability for placing sustainability in a global context.“[2]

The second year started with some new goals while the implementation of some old goals will continue. Some of the goals are very ambitious and, again, some might not be achieved. Nevertheless, the main idea is to offer a platform for everyone to come up with their ideas to make the school a better place and to support them in achieving their goal. Let them do it their way!




The Sustainable Management and Activity Plan for the school year 2013/2013 is published on the web site of the project: http://sustainableschool.eu/index.php/iceland/iceland-indicator

Report by – William Thomas PSM – 2012 Churchill Fellow: http://www.fa.is/ritstjorn/namskra/sjalfbaernisnefnd/WTCFR.pdf

Leave a reply