Book Chapter

Early Career Scopttish Geography Teachers’ Perceptions of Education for Sustainable Development



Fenwick A & Munro R (2010) Early Career Scopttish Geography Teachers’ Perceptions of Education for Sustainable Development. In: Wisely T, Barr I, Britton A & King B (eds.) Education in a Global Space: Emerging Research and Practice in Initial Teacher Education. Edinburgh: Scottish Development Education Centre.

At the start of the 21st century the global pace of change and challenge continues unabated (Cullingford and Gunn, 2005). Increasingly individuals need to be equipped with the skills to manage and navigate uncertain futures (Irving, 1999). The Scottish Government's [SG] ambitions are high: Our aim is that by 2014 people in Scotland will have developed the knowledge, understanding, skills and values to live more sustainable lives (Scottish Executive [SE], 2006). Cobb, Darling-Hammond and Murangi (1995) cited in Cobb (1999) refer to the pivotal role that education plays in relation to national development. Renewed government support for Education for Sustainable Development [ESD] has been evident in recent curriculum reform - The Executive will ensure that the new Curriculum for Excellence [CfE] integrates education for sustainable development across subject areas (Sustainable Development Education Liaison Group, 22-23rd August 2006). Few would query the importance and relevance of ESD, however, school approaches remain piece-meal and unco-ordinated (Sustainable Development Education Liaison Group [SDELG], 2006). March 2005 saw the launch of the United Nation's Decade of Education for Sustainable Development [UNDESD] which emphasised the role of education as a vehicle for change and the pivotal role of Initial Teacher Education [ITE] (UNESCO, 2005). Research by Glasgow University into the professional culture of Scottish teachers identified the crucial role of early career teachers in relation to the implementation and success of CfE (Hulme et al., 2008). Lavery (Grant and Borradaile, 2007) also highlighted the foundational role that ITE has to play in establishing and developing ESD in Scottish schools. This is, therefore, an apposite time to examine the perceptions of early career Scottish Geography teachers in relation to ESD. The International Development Education Association of Scotland [IDEAS] comprises a network of over 40 organisations and individuals involved in Development Education and Education for Global Citizenship. This research project into early career Geography teachers' attitudes to ESD is one of 12 in Scotland contributing to the IDEAS initiative Taking a Global Approach to Initial Teacher Education. Qualitative and quantitative questionnaire data was gathered from a group of 42 secondary Geography students from four of Scotland's seven ITE establishments. Early career teachers' views were explored within three areas: defining ESD, ESD and ITE, and ESD and CfE. The research findings provide a current Scottish case study exploring new Geography teachers' views, attitudes and experiences of ESD. Results suggest that new teachers consider ESD to be an important issue which should be embedded within CfE and across all subjects. A lack of confidence relating to defining and delivering ESD was identified. Early career teachers would welcome more guidance on ESD issues throughout their ITE course, greater provision of appropriate resources and more precisely determined curriculum content and coverage advice. They are keen to engage in authentic collaborative continuous professional development opportunities with their prospective colleagues. The results of this study have implications for ITE in Scotland and will be of interest to international audiences.

Publication date31/12/2010
PublisherScottish Development Education Centre
Place of publicationEdinburgh

People (1)


Mrs Ashley Fenwick

Mrs Ashley Fenwick

Teaching Fellow, Education