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Creating a Learning Environment to Promote Food Sustainability Issues in Primary Schools? Staff Perceptions of Implementing the Food for Life Partnership Programme

Abstract

There is increasing interest in the role that schools can play in promoting education for sustainable development (ESD), and evidence is emerging that schools can be influential in the emerging agenda around the ecological, ethical and social aspects of food, diet and nutrition. With regard to such food sustainability issues, this paper analyses the role of the Food for Life Partnership national programme in supporting garden and farm-based learning activities in 55 primary schools in England, UK. Using a mixed methods approach, the study examined the programme’s implementation through staff perceptions and a range of school change indicators. The study found that the programme delivery was associated with widespread institutional reforms. According to staff, implementation of the programme provided a range of opportunities for pupils to learn about food production and sustainability, but addressing these issues was challenging for teachers and raised a number of questions concerned with effective, equitable and on-going implementation. At a pedagogical level, teachers also reflected on conceptually challenging aspects of food sustainability as a topic for primary school education. The study identified ways that ESD programmes could support schools to think about and implement learning opportunities as well as identifying significant barriers related to resourcing such programmes.

Keywords:

education for sustainable development; food; primary schools; programme implementation; mixed methods

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