Part of how we support the sector’s adoption of education for sustainable development (ESD) is by providing specialist support that helps equip and enable those who work in the Further Education (FE) and Skills sector to delivery high quality, impactful ESD.

Our portfolio of resources and tools is constantly developing – we prioritise based on sector demand. If there’s something that you’re looking for, that you can’t find on this page, do get in touch.

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Keep up to date with ETF’s ESD work, including announcements when new resources, tools and support are launched.

ESOL students at Redbridge Institute building a sustainable garden

ESD for ESOL practitioners

A collection of resources for ESOL practitioners for a wide range of learners and lesson types that has been developed and tested by ESOL practitioners. These were commissioned by ETF, delivered by HOLEX and developed by Manchester Adult Education Service, Idea Store at Tower Hamlets Council and Westminster Adult Education Service.

Leaders in discussion

Governance Development Programme: ESD module

An introduction to the core concepts of ESD and to help you recognise and develop effective governance practices that create whole-organisation approaches to ESD. Primarily for governors and governance professionals working in colleges but also relevant to governors in other FE and training providers. (Module C12 in the GDP).

Teacher presenting in front of a class

Effective teaching practice for ESD

This one-hour session, with accompanying resources, introduces ESD and how it is relevant to your classrooms, as well as how to develop effective teaching objectives and approaches that prepare learners to develop ESD outcomes aligned with their current values and beliefs.

Note: SET Membership is required to access this resource

Teacher presenting in front of a class

How to embed sustainability into each subject area

This guide introduces educators, teachers, trainers and tutors to the links between their subject area and sustainable development. Explore appropriate content you could bring to your teaching and learning practice.

Teachers in a lab

What qualifications are available in sustainability?

A list of the explicitly sustainability related qualifications that exist should FE and Skills providers want to add additional courses to their portfolio.

Woman gardening whilst sat in a wheelchair with teacher nearby

Map the curriculum tool

A tool to help teams, departments and organisations map their current and future ESD practice in the formal curriculum.

Other resources

Part of our ETF approach is to work collaboratively with others from across the sector to create a more enabling environment for ESD. Therefore, as well as our own resources we recommend the following reports and tools that complement our own.

Core concepts of sustainability

Sustainability as a subject matter is broad and complex. Understanding the complexity and interconnectedness of sustainability issues and systems and how they relate to individuals, organisations and society is challenging, especially with rapidly changing science, technological innovations, and different political approaches to solving sustainability challenges.

As a result, we recognise that many who work in the FE and Skills sector aren’t confident in their sustainability knowledge. We’ve provided some signposts below to help enhance knowledge of the broad issues relating to sustainability. This content won’t be completely relevant to all roles and subject specialisms, but it’s intended to help build knowledge of the fundamentals of sustainability.

  1. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been adopted by 193 countries, are a useful tool for further exploring sustainable development. They clearly and simply demonstrate the breadth of sustainability, acting as an entry-point and helping people identify the links between their objectives or subject matter and the issues central to sustainability. Sub-indicators and targets on all 17 goals reference education, so they also help educators see their role in working towards their realisation.

    The SDGs are interconnected and cover environmental, social and economic issues as well as highlighting the need for partnerships and collaboration. Rather than look at one issue in isolation, the SDGs focus on how improvements in one area can help others and how improvements in some areas can have knock-on negative impacts for other goals. They provide a universal, global definition of sustainability now.
  1. Various training courses exist to introduce people to the core concepts of sustainability. You can view a list of sustainability qualifications here. Other courses that are well-recognised include:
    • Carbon Literacy Training develops awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis. The Association of Colleges have also worked with the Carbon Literacy Project to develop a training curriculum specifically for those who work or study in an Further Education colleges.
    • Aim-Hi training develops understanding of climate, nature and how to make a difference in four short, interactive online sessions. The aim to equip people with the motivation, resources and knowledge needed to drive individual, collective and systemic change.
  2. Edie is the go-to media outlet for sustainability in business. They publish reliable articles on what companies are doing, host webinars as well as large-scale conferences and an annual awards programme.
  3. The University of Cambridge Sustainability Leadership Institute (CISL)’s Sustainability Horizons digest is a regular ‘horizon scan’ outlining sustainability issues that are emerging but which may not yet feature in the mainstream sustainability debate. This helps identify new ideas, trends or evidence.
  4. Sustainababble is a weekly podcast exploring themes related to sustainability.

ESD in the FE sector

Climate Action Roadmap for FE Colleges

Developed by the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education and Nous Group, this resource provides clear actions and guidance on how colleges can respond to the climate emergency and advance sustainability. It encourages a strategic, whole-institution approach and would be suitable for many other types of organisation in the sector beyond colleges.

Teaching resources

Education for the SDGs: Learning objectives

Developed by UNESCO, this resource is a guide for education professionals on the use of ESD in learning for the SDGs, and consequently to contribute to achieving the SDGs. The guide identifies indicative learning objectives and suggests topics and learning activities for each SDG in a non-prescriptive way meaning educators can adapt its contents to suit their learning contexts and environments.

WWF’s Sustainable Futures programme

Sustainable Futures is a free careers programme for UK secondary schools and colleges that equips young people to thrive in a future green economy, regardless of their career path. It’s designed to be delivered by teachers, careers leads or facilitators to learners aged 14-18 and includes three modules, split into bitesize 30-minute-long units. It can be delivered as part of your careers provision, within curriculum subjects, or as an extra-curricular activity. All materials needed to make this course easy to deliver with minimal preparation are provided.