Education for Sustainable Development (UNESCO, 2017) is an important framework and instrument in achieving goal four 'Quality Education' of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations (2015). Key to realizing this goal is the empowerment of young people to champion diversity and equality. Diversity within social-cultural groups is important for the success of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as an affinity towards diversity has been shown to promote empathy towards sustainability and pro-environmental issues (Corral-Verdugo et al, 2009). Initiatives using ESD principles such as, Engineers without Borders and Green Chemistry have been shown to increase opportunity and participation for underrepresented demographics in the fields of Science and Technology (Zimmerman et al, 2007).
Diversity in sports such as Cricket, Hockey and Rugby Union have been questioned recently in the English media with youth participation a particular area of focus (Turner, 2020; Grey, 2021; Rainford-Brent, 2021). A lack of diversity and inclusion has also been suggested in the English National Curriculum in Physical Education through the absence of diverse content and any real directive (Herold, 2020). This is supported by Dowling and Flintoff (2018) who suggest the Physical Education curriculum is ‘whitewashed’. In contrast, the Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum (Ontario, 2015) contains a diverse range of content and instruction on mental health, healthy eating and even environmental education. This approach to Physical Education relates strongly to a capabilities approach to education which Wamsler (2020) believes may be better for implementing the principles of ESD. So what can be done in increase the presence of ESD in Physical Education in England?
Firstly, promoting initiatives such as the African-Caribbean Engagement (ACE) programme launched by Surrey County Cricket Club and former female England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent are a good starting point as they are successful in creating opportunities for young African-Caribbean cricketers (Bull, 2020). This initiative has similar principles that champion diversity in the Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum (Petherick, 2018). Moreover, introducing inclusive language into curriculum policy could not only increase diversity but also spark ecological and ethical ESD approaches in teacher pedagogy as shown in Australia and their use of an ecofeminist language framework (Olive and Enright, 2021).
Australia, Canada and New Zealand lead the way for ESD in Physical Education. It is time England caught up in one race worth winning.
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