Sustainability in Schools – Dollar Academy

Posted: 20th March 2024

Dollar Academy has recently launched a pioneering educational initiative – the Futures Institute at Dollar Academy (FIDA).  Its purpose is to put sustainability at the heart of learning experiences and pupils learn through designing solutions to real-world problems, rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Each project is co-designed with experts from industry and/ or universities, to ensure that the learning builds a sense of agency in tackling global problems that can seem remote and overwhelming, through specific and relevant action.  A suite of projects is freely available on FIDA’s online platform, and these are accessible to learners and teachers not only in our own school, but to in any school across the country. We have over 550 pupils individually registered to the platform, and over 70 teachers from schools across Scotland.

Within our own school, we use these projects to engage large numbers of pupils on a regular basis. For example, this year we have the entire Junior 1 (Year 6) year-group engaged in a FIDA project to devise innovative ways to protect local wildlife species. This has involved a considerable degree of outdoor learning in which pupils have been finding out about the climate crisis, the threat it poses to native species, and the role of healthy ecosystems in mitigating climate change.  We have also recently had the entire Form IV (Year 11) year-group creating a social media campaign to raise awareness of the climate crisis; the entire Form V (Year 12) year-group taking on a FIDA project of their choice to complete independently; and the entire Form VI (Year 13) year-group introduced to systems thinking as a framework to address complex climate-related problems.

We also offer opportunities to pupils beyond our own school.  One recent example is a weekend ‘design sprint’ workshop, in which 25 pupils from 7 schools came together to create a piece of monumental art to embody the climate crisis.  Another is a one-week immersive learning experience in which learners in S5 and S6 from 4 schools worked with industry experts on a project to transform a dilapidated 1860s cottage into a net-zero carbon and biodiversity-positive home.

As the above examples attest, our philosophy is that it is not enough simply to learn passively about climate change and its impacts; we strive to empower learners with a sense of agency in tackling this global crisis through using their voice, their creativity and their skills in practical, real-world contexts.

Jacqueline Smith – Director of FIDA

Categories: Dollar Academy School News