St Francis is a purpose built school, with many sustainable features such as solar energy, rainwater harvesting, concrete walls to store heat and reduce maintenance, a subterranean gym with light tunnels, and sedum roofs and even gardens on the rooftops.

The grounds are green and have many gardens. The school’s four guiding values are:

  • To create a caring community;
  • Show compassion to all;
  • Show respect for all creation, and;
  • Work for peace and reconciliation.

These are closely aligned to the principles of sustainable development: to care for onself, care for others and to care for the environment. “We want our students to see the importance of these values and to put these values into practice,” says Julie McDermott, the Assistant Vice Principal for Sustainable Development.

In particular, the school works to embed sustainability into the curriculum and to involve the students through an Environmental Action Team. Students have painted murals on outside walls; each conveys a message and each new group of students will replace the art work with their own. The students have also chosen to name the house groups after endangered animal species.

Every classroom has a wall or corner themed to sustainable development and linked to the subject taught in the room. The environmental specialism provides the context in information communication and technology (ICT) lessons, for example for work on web design. It is the focus of mathematics lessons where students present arguments about aid and famine relief based on real data for rainfall, water supply and use. In English, sustainable development is the basis for poetry and in media studies students critically assess filmmakers’ techniques in environmental disaster movies.

The school’s website can be viewed here.