There’s a sense of pride at Clarendon Children’s Centre in South Melbourne that is evident in the beautiful garden, the stimulating rooms, the nutritious meals, the knowledgeable staff and, most of all, the smiling children.
The pride is well deserved, they are the only children’s centre in City of Port Phillip to achieve an Excellent rating from ACECQA, the National regulatory authority. One of the keys to their success and outstanding reputation is their approach to embedding sustainability in their teaching practice and the way they operate.
The Co-ordinator, Linda Davison, who has been at Clarendon Children’s Centre for 31 years, understands the importance of valuing sustainability. “When you work with young children you have a sense of responsibility and understanding that they are inheriting something from us and we need to make sure we do our best by them”.
Sustainability is part of the culture; whether it’s the cook’s enthusiasm for including herbs and veggies into daily meals that the kids have picked from the garden, Linda’s commitment to allocating funds for sustainability, the children’s love for the worms or the educators’ ability to incorporate sustainability into the everyday curriculum.
A recent solar installation means they have now received their second negative electricity bill. They have also installed three rainwater tanks, undergone an insulation upgrade and set up two worm farms. They continue to strive to reduce their impact and plan to eliminate their gas use to operate only on renewable solar electricity.
Clarendon Children’s Centre is part of a group of 26 Early Years services involved in City of Port Phillip’s ‘Seedlings’ Program. Seedlings was established to support Early Years services to embed sustainability education in their pedagogy and to reduce their energy, water and waste impacts. The program continues to generate outstanding results, but relies on people like Linda and all her staff to get involved and create a culture of sustainability leadership that spreads throughout the centre.