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OMEP Education for Sustainable Citizenship (ESC) Awards

13 January 2022
Child pouring water into a watering can

Jayne’s Nursery and OMEP Education for Sustainable Citizenship (ESC) Awards

Jayne’s Nursery, recently engaged with the OMEP-UK Early Childhood Education for Sustainable Citizenship (ESC) Award scheme, which has been developed to support the early years sector to become more knowledgeable about sustainable development, and to inspire parents, practitioners, and children to work together to create a more sustainable future. The OMEP-UK Awards were developed following an international collaboration in association with UNESCO and they provide a rationale for a comprehensive approach that goes well beyond any simple curriculum ‘bolt on’: The education of sustainable citizens is seen as fundamental to early childhood education. 

The nursery completed the Bronze Award in 2021 which has had a significant positive impact on the quality and variety of experiences children enjoy which we were able to evaluate by revisiting the audit which was completed as part of the accreditation process. 

The award is organised around an ‘ESC passport’ which each child receives and completes activities with their parents, to gain stickers to put into their passports. Each sticker is awarded after completing activities suggested in i-care booklets which include caring for each other, the community, and the planet and which support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Social-cultural, economic, environmental) as well as numeracy and literacy which are essential prerequisites for sustainable citizenship.

Practitioners received training for the Bronze Award, which contributed to their CPD, and was accessible and valuable for all, regardless of each practitioners’ qualifications or status. ESC training was delivered on site and staff were encouraged to contribute to the baseline audit on the nursery ESC provision.  The audit was a fundamental part of the accreditation process as it engaged the whole team in highlighting where the nursery excelled and identified opportunities for development which promoted collaboration and team commitment. Practitioner’s contribution has been invaluable in the drive to replace wet wipes with washable towelling cloths, reduce the use of plastic gloves and to transition from disposable nappies to reusable ones which will reduce the nursery’s contribution to land fill significantly.

During training, practitioners began to understand ‘the environment’ as one pillar of ‘sustainability’ with socio-economic and economic pillars being inextricably linked to the success of any endeavour claiming to be ‘sustainable’.  The idea that sustainability was not just about environmental issues proved to be a wow moment for everyone and had a significant influence on practice, and with practitioners growing understanding of children as emergent citizens, the results were magical!

Children became the driving force in raising £4000 for Colchester Zoo during the COVID pandemic ‘so the animals didn’t go hungry’ when they were read an article on the plight of the zoo. We joined forces with the local care home and primary school to raise money, and the children have become regular visitors to the care home ever since, singing songs and exchanging gifts with their elderly friends. The residents now visit the nursey for tea and cake, and we celebrate occasions such as Sports Day or Remembrance Day, building bridges across generations.

Children took on the Nursery Against Plastics Campaign and as they began to understand the link between single use plastics and the harm caused to ocean creatures they declared war, using litter pickers to clear the local area and tally charts to shame practitioners whose lunch packaging was identified as the biggest contributor to plastic waste in the nursery! 

At the nursery allotment the children are involved in growing produce and learn the importance of caring for living plants and growing food from ‘seed to plate’.  They prepare, cook, and enjoy nutritious dishes from around the world and share produce with local good causes, supporting developing empathy and community responsibility.  They have set up Food Stalls and sold their produce to families, using the profits raised to travel on buses to buy ‘treasures’ for their playrooms from charity shops.  These experiences offer opportunities for children to learn about democracy, cooperation, negotiation and develop their understanding of thrift, upcycling, and recycling. 

Jayne’s Nursery was a finalist at the Nursery World Awards 2021 where the team’s dedication and hard work in ESC, was recognised. Please contact us if you would like to visit the nursery and see the work we have been doing (07950 474941).

Further information about the OMEP ESC Award scheme is available at

Dianne Yewman is an accredited trainer for the OMEP UK Early Childhood Education for Sustainable Citizenship Award Scheme.  Local preschools and childminders interested in engaging with the Award should contact