678 Education for Sustainability

NCEA Level(s)

Course aims / learning outcomes

Mō tātou te Taiao ko te Atawhai, Mō tātou te Taiao ko te Oranga

It is for us to care for the environment to ensure its well-being.  In doing so, we ensure our own well-being and that of future generations.

What comes to mind when you hear the often used term sustainability? Does it fill you with anxiety for your future on a planet already facing climate changes?   Does it offer a survival plan for humans and other species?  Is it the only way out, or are there other ways of knowing and caring for our environment?  In this class, we answer these questions and more...

Education for Sustainability (EFS) connects many (all?) learning areas.  It's health, social studies, geography, history, economics, Te Ao Māori, ecology, the arts, statistics, science...  In this class, you will learn the skills to think and, very importantly, to take action in ways that safeguard your own well-being, as well as the well-being of our communities and Earth. 

At level one, the course is designed to be a pathway to level 2/3 EFS as well as level 2/3 geography.    

Levels 7 and 8 (Year 12 and 13)

While the teaching in this course will be aimed at level one, we can build you a programme of learning by tailoring the EfS level 2/3 standards to your passions and interests at the start of the year.   I will then check in with you each class.  You will need to be able to self-direct and self-manage your learning. Please note that EfS has University Entrance endorsement (Level 3).  

Course content

Term One: Sustainability, Ecology, Economics

1) Define and discuss sustainability and kaitiakitanga as ways of understanding and caring for the world around us. 

2) Get into some economic basics.

3) Choose a local ecosystem;  identify the plants and animals present; look at the connections between the living and non-living environment; investigate the human impact; and recommend how it should be looked after in the future.  

This course involves a day long field trip to study an environment of our choice (Akaroa Harbour, Hinewai, Craigieburn...)

Term Two: Sustainability, Health, Values, Social Justice, Environmental Justice

Level One and Two: Get to know yourself as you explore what you value, what other people value, and which values and behaviours will work to sustain the Earth.  Use a case study of your choice, such as the School Strike for Climate, the Dakota Pipeline or Ihumātau where people have fought to protect their rights to a sustainable future.

Level Three: Choose to create a sustainability strategy for an organisation of your choice (school, your work, your parent's work..) or start working on your personal action. 

Term Three: Sustainability Action! 

Level One:  Explore possible self-improvement for a short period to see if it is a permanent change we would like to embrace. You could consider ‘no to low’ rubbish living, biking to school, getting fit, going vegetarian, composting, or buying ethical food.   Using the “Te Whare Tapa Whā” and SMART goals models, you will learn the skills to set and achieve a goal successfully.  

Next, widen your impact. Choose and research a human rights or sustainability issue of concern (waste, transport, food, carbon emissions, pest control, habitat loss, fast fashion….), and take action. 

Level Two: Complete your action from last term and get ready for the sustainability initiatives exam. 

Level Three: Take action on an issue, or try one of the external reports available. 

Term Four: Extra, extra

Finishing off and exam prep for level 2.  Maybe the level 1 geography skills exam if people are interested.


Assessment statement

  • Lots of standards are offered in this course across three levels.  This includes 18 credits at Level 1, 17 at level 2 and 24 at level three. Students will target some, but not all of the credits.   
  • While most of the internal standards in this course can be assessed by writing a report, you are welcome to present your ideas in the form of a verbal presentation with visuals, or a slide-show.



  • Assignments that take place over time will be produced in an online system such as Google Docs. Learning Advisors will monitor student work by accessing document history. A portion of work will need to be completed during class time under Learning Advisor supervision. 
  • Class tests will take place under supervised test conditions within class.
  • Students may be required to sign an authenticity statement, perform certain parts of assessment tasks under close supervision, or show through interview and the existence of notes and supporting material that the work submitted by the student is genuinely his/her own work.


Appeal Procedures

  • Students have the right to appeal the mark they have been awarded. If a student wishes to appeal a grade, they should initially talk to the subject learning advisor about the marking process immediately after the marked assessment task is shown to them. If still dissatisfied the student should make an appointment and discuss grades with the Principal’s Nominee who will check that the correct procedures have been followed as outlined in the school and subject policies taking into account any special circumstances.


Table of Assessments

Level One

NumberNameCredit valueInternal or ExternalLiteracy Numeracy UE Reading/WritingWhenReassessment opportunityType of assessment
AS 91009Demonstrate geographic understanding of the sustainable use of an environment (Geography)3InternalLiteracyTerm 1NoBrochure and Report
AS 91011Conduct geographic research, with direction (Geography)4InternalNumeracy and LiteracyTerm 1YesField Work with Report
AS 91043 

Describe a social justice and human rights action (Social Studies) 

4InternalLiteracyTerm 2NoReport
AS 90971 

Take action to enhance an aspect of personal well-being (Health)

3InternalLiteracyTerm 3YesReport or Slide Show
AS 91042

Report on personal involvement in a social justice and human rights action (Social Studies)

4InternalLiteracyTerm 3/4NoReport or Verbal Presentation

Level Two

NumberNameCredit valueInternal or ExternalLiteracy Numeracy UE Reading/WritingWhenReassessment opportunityType of assessment
AS 90811Explain how human activity in a biophysical environment has consequences for a sustainable future (EFS)4InternalLiteracy and UE ReadingTerm 1NoField Work and Report
AS 90813 - Demonstrate understanding of how personal values have implications for a sustainable future3Internal Literacy2NoEssay/Report
AS 90810Undertake a personal action, with reflection, that contributes to a sustainable future (EFS)6InternalLiteracy and UE ReadingTerm 2/3NoReport, Slide Show or Verbal Presentation
AS91733Demonstrate understanding of initiatives that can contribute to a sustainable future (EFS)4ExternalLiteracy and UE ReadingTerm 3/4NoExam

Level Three

NumberNameCredit valueInternal or ExternalLiteracy Numeracy UE Reading/WritingWhenReassessment opportunityType of assessment
AS 91735

Evaluate measures that may be taken to sustain and/or improve a biophysical environment (EfS) 

4InternalUE ReadingTerm 1NoField Trip and Report
AS 90828Evaluate a personal action that contributes towards a sustainable future6InternalUE ReadingTerm 2/3NoReport or Presentation
AS 90832Develop a strategy for an organisation that will contribute to a sustainable future5InternalUE ReadingTerm 2/3NoReport
AS 90831Analyse the impact that policies have on a sustainable future5ExternalUE Reading and WritingTerm 3/4NoExternal Report
AS 91736Analyse how different worldviews, and the values and practices associated with them, impact on sustainability4ExternalUE Reading and WritingTem 3/4NoExternal Report