Step 4: Monitoring & Evaluation
Step 4 - Monitoring & Evaluation This step is closely linked to the Action Plan. Every activity listed in your Action Plan needs to be monitored to evaluate whether that activity has been able to meet the desired objective or not. Results gathered during monitoring can provide data for curriculum linking (Step 5 of the Eco-Schools programme), particularly in the areas of Maths, Science, Technology, Arts and Language . Monitoring also develops other skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and team work. Keep going back to your Action Plan regularly to check whether your activities are in line with your plans, you have achieved the desired results, and these are being carried out within the specified period by the responsible individuals / groups.
Actively involving students in the monitoring process helps them develop responsibility and a sense of ownership of the whole project. Monitoring patrols can be setup class-wise on a rotational basis to ensure there is participation from maximum students. This implies that the monitoring instruments designed or chosen should take into account the student’s age group and ability.
The choice of monitoring methodologies is also dependent on the type of information that needs to be gathered. For e.g.,
- Certain factual information can be gathered through simple methods, such as weighing rubbish bags, taking regular readings from water and electricity meters, calculating the purchase of paper from receipts, etc.
- Questionnaires and simple interviews are the best methods to track opinions, impressions, behaviours and attitudes
- Encourage students to take photographs which can provide an accurate record of how a project is developing (like the greening of your playground, litter-free street by the school, etc.). Greening of school grounds in the UAE should be done using only native plants that are adapted to arid conditions. Consult your local municipal horticulture department for any assistance. Documents used to collate monitoring results must be well kept, and all records must be stored as evidence that will need to be produced at the time of assessment.
Whenever possible, keep the whole school informed of your monitoring results. This can be displayed on the Eco-Schools board, updated in the school newsletter or any other manner that is workable in your school.
Evaluation follows from monitoring. Evaluating the success of your activities will allow you to make changes to your Action Plan if required.
One very effective evaluation strategy is to carry out a follow-up Environmental Audit. You can use the same document you used for Eco Schools process Step 2 and compare your new responses with your initial ones.
Remember to calculate your School Carbon Footprint on a monthly basis using the calculator provided to you.. You may assign this task to a specific group of students. This is a mandatory process and will give you a clear indication of your school's overall progress in saving energy and water, and reducing waste production, and will help you to plan future objectives.
Based on the second whole school review you will be able to answer the following questions:
- In which areas did your school score well in the second whole school audit?
- In which areas did your school improve, compared to your first whole school audit?
- What were the reasons for these improvements?
- In which area was there little or no improvement?
- What were the reasons for a lack of improvement?
- What should be done next, to improve environmental management and learning at your school?
- What should be done to maintain improvements in environmental management and learning at your school
Evaluation is best done towards the end of the academic year to enable you visualize and plan actions for your school for the next year.
Eco-Schools is a WHOLE school project and hence it is very important that results of the monitoring and evaluation exercise are shared with the whole school community. This where the Eco-Schools notice- board comes handy. Displaying charts depicting the state of the school environment can be an effective way of communicating results of your Action Plan.
When targets are met, celebrate your success! Celebration is a powerful motivator. Recognize your school's achievements and disseminate these successes as widely as possible during school functions and within the wider local community, through websites, newsletters, newspaper articles, and other media. Besides, such celebrations provide a great opportunity for the promotion of Eco-Schools too.
(Adopted from Eco-Schools South Africa, Eco-Schools USA, Ekoskola, Eco-Schools Scotland)