NextGen: HN - Learning for Sustainability

Learning for Sustainability (LfS) is a core component of all NextGen: HN qualifications. LfS embraces global citizenship, sustainable development, social justice, human rights, climate change, biodiversity loss, and equality. The approach builds learners’ capacity to deal with the unpredictable social, economic, and environmental challenges facing our rapidly changing world.

What is Learning for Sustainability?

NextGen: HN Qualifications use the Scottish Government “Target 2030: A movement for people, planet and prosperity”, Scotland’s Learning for Sustainability Action Plan 2023-2030, for definitions and guidance.

Making LfS a key driver in the future of Scottish education will not only enable us to heed the call to action from learners but will allow us to achieve much more besides.All of our policy ambitions in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, climate and net zero, biodiversity, circular economy, and economic and social transformation can only be delivered with the commitment of Scotland’s people, supported throughout their education.

Target 2030 A movement for people, planet and prosperity: Scotland's Learning for Sustainability Action Plan 2023-2030

The Voice of Children and Young People and Educators

The LfS Action Plan (2023) was developed through extensive consultation with children and young people, along with educators across a range of early years to university learning settings. Underlying research, feeding into the plan, provided strong evidence that the learner voice is strong on LfS and young people want it to be part of their everyday learning.

We should have Learning for Sustainability because if people learn about it, they will act, and it’s true that just a few people can make a change, and more children can have their voices heard.

Member of Children’s Parliament as part of consultation research

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

All learners have an entitlement to learning for sustainability which is underpinned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Scottish and UK governments have signed up to this global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere.

Scottish National Performance Framework

The Scottish Government's National Performance Framework was refreshed in 2018 to incorporate all of the UN SDGs. Therefore, all Scottish Government policy and resource decisions are underpinned by the SDGs.

By embedding LfS into Next Gen: HN qualifications, learners and educators are able to work towards building a socially-just, sustainable, and equitable society, interact with the world in a socially responsible manner, and actively change the way they live and work for the future of our planet.

Sometimes the phrase ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ (ESD) is used as an alternative to Learning for Sustainability (LfS) in college and university settings. However, we use the term ‘LfS’ for all sustainability education.

LfS is an approach that helps learners question, analyse and think critically while working with others. This aims to increase learner confidence and help develop skills for life, learning, and work.

The expectation is that all NextGen: HN learners will exit their studies with:

  • a general understanding of sustainability
  • a good grounding in subject-specific sustainability and;
  • the confidence to apply the knowledge, skills, and values developed through their learning in the next stage of their lives.

The intention is for LfS to complement the vocational and technical aspects of each NextGen: HN course alongside its key features, and learner focus.

By integrating LfS as a core component, learners will be better prepared for the increasing demand for green skills, jobs, and careers, as Scotland transitions to a net-zero economy.

We are currently developing a series of four modules to support learners and practitioners in developing their understanding of Learning for Sustainability. Module 1 has launched for the 2023-2024 Academic Year while modules 2, 3 and 4 will be launched during the 2023-2024 Academic year.

Module 1, An Introduction to the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals and Learning for Sustainability, provides learners and practitioners with an introduction to LfS. This module aims to develop a basic understanding of some of the key social, economic, and environmental challenges we face alongside the role of the UN SDGs and Scotland’s approach to LfS.

Modules 2, 3 and 4 will provide learners with more information on understanding sustainability and how to develop LfS skills, while providing practitioners with more information on how to embed LfS into learning, teaching and assessment.