OMEP UK Early Childhood Sustainable Citizenship Award

Read below about what sustainable citizenship is defined as. Then, read about our exciting Sustainable Citizenship Award! We would love for your early childhood setting to get involved! If you are interested, please contact us via email.

Sustainable Citizenship

Since the 2005 United Nations World Summit, it has become commonplace to refer to the “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” of sustainable development as social and cultural sustainability, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability.  The challenge for educators has been to develop appropriate educational systems, curriculum and pedagogic practices that are sustainable in terms of each of these pillars.  But it is also important to understand that these three pillars are integrated and must act together, and that any practices and policies developed without taking each into account are likely to fail. 

Sustainable Development Pillars

From the perspective of sustainable development, the most efficient or effective environmental, economic or social strategy may not be the most sustainable.  Interdisciplinary decision making is crucial.  Many authorities see good governance as another vital component that should be considered an additional ‘pillar’ for sustainable development.  From an early childhood education perspective, these democratic concerns may be realised through the encouragement of more participation by the local community, by families and especially by the children themselves, in co-constructing the sustainability curriculum.  It is for this reason, and in recognition of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which suggests that all children should have a voice in all matters that effect their lives, that we refer throughout these pages to Education for Sustainable Citizenship.

Sustainable Citizenship Award

The OMEP UK Early Childhood Education for Sustainable Citizenship Award is an initiative that was developed following work reviewing provisions for ESD and in applying the OMEP Environmental Rating Scale for Sustainable Development in Early Childhood (ERS-SDEC) in ten OMEP countries (Chile, China, Kenya, Korea, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the USA) between 2010 and 2014. This work was published in 2016 and further details (including copies of the research instrument) are available for download here.

The OMEP Early Childhood Sustainable Citizenship Award has been developed to support a wide range of early childhood providers including childminders, preschools, and nurseries who are working with parents in supporting the objectives of Education for sustainable development in early childhood. 

The scheme is organised around an ‘ESC Passport’ that is provided for each child. This document summarises the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and defines Sustainable citizenship as a life-long emergent capability.

The passport also provides discounted entry to wildlife conservation parks and other related community resources and services. For more information about these benefits, please click here.

Each child is able to collect up to 15 award stickers for entry into their passport, and these show their ESC achievements at Bronze, Silver and Gold level.  To be awarded each sticker, parents and preschool practitioners work together to support the child in completing educational activities that range from the identification of three wild birds, the identification of wildlife habitats, to the recycling of waste materials, and the recognition of cultural and linguistic diversity.

The approach celebrates sustainable achievements and innovations, and encourages the children to feel themselves involved in the creation of a more sustainable future.

The activities are set at an appropriate level for the age group, they are based upon commonly available environmental resources, and provide the foundations of an education for sustainable citizenship that addresses all aspects of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Participating preschool settings are provided with a range of resources that offer an optimistic, and pro-active approach to the subject that celebrates sustainable achievements and innovations and encourages the children to feel themselves involved in the creation of a more sustainable future.

There are fifteen ‘I-care…’ booklets in the complete set.  These comprise Bronze, Silver and Gold awards in the following ESC educational areas that broadly address the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Social-Cultural education
  • Economics education
  • Environmental education
  • Emergent Literacy education
  • Emergent Numeracy education 

Each of the booklets also has recommendations for related picture story books or activities. Once the child has completed their ‘I-care…’ book, their key person, will issue a sticker for their ESC  passport.

SchemaPlay is providing Training for ESC Trainers courses that involve five days of face to face training, 10 weeks online support, and all of the resources required to support settings in their implementation of the scheme, and in achieving OMEP ESC Award accreditation.  If you are interested and have some previous experience in training and consultancy in this or a related curriculum area in preschools, please apply in the first instance to

Significant economies can be made where we are able to make up training groups in your area. We need to know where you are based and which locations you would be able to attend the training which is normally organised as a 2 day: 1 day: 2 day course running over three months.

During training, each trainee ESC Award trainer is expected to visit an early years’ setting once every two weeks, implementing the Award and supporting the practitioners in the development of their parent partnership through the use of the ‘I-care…’ booklets. They will support the setting in completing an ESC self-audit and in setting targets for their curriculum development. They will also provide support to the setting in making its application to the OMEP Accreditation Committee for an Award.

SchemaPlay will provide continuous on-line support to trainees and to settings and at the end of the three-month period, each trainee trainer will submit at least one child’s ESC learning journey case study, and they will gain their own accreditation as a ESC Award trainer. This will enable them to independently train other practitioners, and prepare other settings for the ESC Award accreditation at Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels.