Sustainability in secondary education is gaining ground

VO symposium sustainabul
What does secondary education for tomorrow look like? The way we've always done it or can we do it differently? More and more secondary schools are working on learning for sustainable development. They are helping to build an inclusive society and a circular economy with room to develop everyone's unique talent. To give these fine examples a stage, last Wednesday the Best Practice Sustainabul VO 2022′ was awarded during the 'VO voor Morgen' symposium organized by Leren van Morgen at Aeres VMBO Almere.

Symposium VO for Tomorrow

On Wednesday, November 30, administrators, teachers, students and sustainability coordinators from secondary education came together. Lecturer Kees Klomp opened the symposium after which more than 100 participants started working together through workshops on world citizenship, teaching methods, circular education and how to create support within your school for sustainability. The participants also learned more about the measuring and benchmarking tool SustainaBul VO.

'Best practice SustainaBul VO 2022'

Three nominees were allowed to pitch their good practice. The audience determined the final winner; Huizermaat Huizen with their Circular Pupil Council to let students think along with sustainable choices in the school. Teacher and initiator Bas de Bruijn; "The difference with a regular student council is that we have the climate as a focus point and want to make our fellow students aware of the challenges in that area. That's why we organize activities around this theme."

Winnaars SustainaBul Best Practice Eerste Plek

Finishing in second and third place were Aeres VMBO / MBO Almere and Stedelijk Gymnasium Breda, " Bauke Houtsma of Aeres VMBO /MBO Almere developed the Educational Program Floriade together with Stan Frijters, teacher and researcher Learning for Sustainable Development, among others. An online platform for secondary, intermediate and higher vocational education that consists of Learning for Sustainable Development teaching materials; concrete issues from practice and transition-oriented themes that were topics at the Floriade (green, energy, health or food). Ragne van Engelen of the Stedelijk Gymnasium Breda, together with MBO Curio Urban Green Development and their own student committee GroenGym, started a greening project that led to 1500 m2 of grass tiles, green facades, a roof garden incl. sparrow hotel, 500m2 more greenery and not entirely unimportant; outdoor chess tables for contact with the neighborhood and surrounding elementary school.

SustainaBul VO

The SustainaBul is the cooperative benchmark with ranking for sustainability in education. The SustainaBul VO encourages and supports schools to make education more sustainable. Schools help each other with the implementation of sustainability in all facets of the school. Within the mbo this benchmark is already well established. With the vo we are in a starting phase. The SustainaBul is made possible in part by the Goldschmeding Foundation.
More information about the SustainaBul VO can be found here!


2:30 - 3 p.m. Walk-in & reception with the inspiration market with various organizations showing what they can do for you. Including: 

  • SustainaBul VO
  • Day for Change
  • Blue Marble
  • NADO
  • GrowWizzKid
  • Global Exploration Foundation
  • NexxDott - The Future Lab Game
  • Technotrend Foundation

3 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Setting in time - Jan van de Venis, acting ombudsperson for future generations

3:15 - 3:25 p.m. Opening and welcome - Giuseppe van der Helm, director Learning for Tomorrow and one of the Sustainable Teachers 2022 VO

3:25 - 4 p.m.  Theme speaker Kees Klomp - lector of Meaning Economy at Knowledge Center Business Innovation (Hogeschool Rotterdam) on the relationship between man and worldview, and engaging the environment in education.

4 p.m. Short break

4:10 - 6:00 p.m. Start Workshops (You attend two 50 min workshops. There is a short break between the two workshops)

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1. Sustainability by students (Marion Koster, Aeres VMBO Almere)
Experience how Aeres VMBO Almere engages students in sustainable education. Aeres vmbo Almere is an Eco-school and engages in sustainability with both staff and students. Experience how Aeres VMBO Almere involves students, what the Eco-school team looks like and what you yourself can do at your school.

2. Teacher stories: real-life examples of sustainability & citizenship (SustainaBul VO)Learning for Tomorrow regularly organizes theme meetings where participants exchange knowledge about making their education more sustainable. Today the topic of citizenship is on the agenda. Get inspired by how other teachers incorporate sustainability into their (world) citizenship lessons and beyond. Arnold Le Belle (Yuverta vmbo Aalsmeer) focuses on the theme of respect: how do we treat each other and the environment? Pieter Temminck ( vmbo Twello) gives you an insight into his sustainable international projects and the soil game, where students learn more about soil fertility through play.

3. Tipping point: the most important story of our time (the creators of Canting Point)
During this workshop, you'll learn about the free-to-use geographical teaching method Kantelpunt. Kantelpunt was born out of the frustration that mainstream publishers do not give sustainability the place it deserves in the curriculum. Kantelpunt is a geography method for lower secondary schools that puts sustainability at its core. In this interactive workshop you will get to know the method and you will leave the workshop with an action perspective on how to give sustainability a central place in your curriculum.

4. Global citizenship and the SDGs (Global Exploration Foundation)
During the workshop, we look at a fair worldview and teachers learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals. Through a variety of work formats, we demonstrate how Foundation Global Explorationtackle these topics in schools and you will be provided with a number of useful work formats, websites and tools that you can then use yourself in the classroom.

5. Transformative sustainability education, what is it and what can I do with it? (Teachers for Climate)
What exactly is sustainability education? That's a question we at Teachers for Climate often get in our conversations with teachers, students and school leaders.  How do you go from a few isolated lessons about the plastic soup and some solar panels on the school roof to a cohesive vision and structural approach that really paves the way for a sustainable future? We have students' desires, experiences of sustainable teachers and international research into an overarching model with the goal of educating students to become planetary citizens. During this workshop especially for VO teachers, we connect a hopeful vision of the future to curriculum, pedagogy, didactics, the school environment and school culture. After the workshop you will not only have a more coherent vision of transformative sustainability education, but also concrete tools to get started yourself.


1.And now to work on sustainability!
Find out how measurement tool SustainaBul VO can help you get started with sustainability! Map out what is already happening and engage with colleagues sharing their experiences in the SustainaBul network.

2. The Future Lab Game - Who am I? What can I do? What do I want (Pauline Maring, Nexxdott).
Playfully discover what interests you by learning about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Formulate your own Future Question and start looking for answers. Then you have already started shaping your future. In a playful 25-minute session, guided by Pauline Maring of Nexxdott, you will be introduced to the possibilities of the Future Lab Game for your school.

3. Through the stomach: food in relation to sustainable education (Circulate Foundation and DOON)
We eat every day. And one third of our ecological footprint is determined by our eating habits. Discover practical examples from vmbo and practical education that reduce the FOODprint at school and get inspired by the MBO Challenge Food Waste, where students sink their teeth into issues from real clients!

4. A letter to the future - looking beyond with your students (Marcel Elsenaar (Verus) and Miranda Willems (Lab Future Generations))
'Future, that should be on the timetable,' a student said the other day. But then again, we all know that the timetable doesn't allow for more subjects. Letter to the Future is a good way to look with students beyond the diploma, beyond further education or a job. During this work session, we will present three key principles behind the project and then work with you to put together a concrete program for your own school from the many possibilities. The project ties in with the citizenship education assignment and can tie in with all subjects. 

5. Support sustainable development in your education (Bauke Houtsma, director Aeres VMBO and Aeres MBO Almere)
Engage with your fellow board members on this topic. What are the lessons from Aeres? What steps are you taking, what is the dot on the horizon? How do you focus on your environment? Participants share tips and tricks with each other.

18.00 – 18.45 Dinner and inspiration market

18.45 – 19.30 Panel discussion 
About the outcome of the workshops and the challenges we face with Bauke Houtsma (director Aeres VMBO and MBO Almere), Marlise Achterbergh (sustainability coordinator Esprit Scholengroep) and Leia van Veldhoven (board member Youth for Climate)

7:30 - 8 p.m. Presenting Best Practice SustainaBul VO
Listen to three pitches from participants in the SustainaBul VO and vote for the most inspiring good example

8 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Meet, greet & drinks


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