Empire Bay Public School

About our school

Empire Bay Public School (EBPS) is located at the southern end of the Central Coast of NSW. We draw students from the suburbs of Empire Bay, St Huberts Island, Daleys Point and Bensville. The school is a focal point of the community and caters for students in Kindergarten to Year 6. Established in 1881 and rebuilt in 1993, we now have 37 staff members and 480 students.

The core values of the school are respect, responsibility and building positive relationships. This is reflected in the school’s vision statement: EBPS will develop a future-focused community of life-long, engaged learners where students feel valued and have a strong sense of belonging, supported by caring and dedicated staff.

Our journey to sustainability

We’ve implemented a sustainability program that aims to:

  • foster in students an appreciation of the environment, their relationship with it and their responsibility for its future
  • develop in students the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and commitment to initiate individual and collective responses that are environmentally conscious.

We include sustainability education in our school programs because we want children to have the knowledge and skills they need to act for the environment. We want children to investigate, explore and take action for a sustainable future. We do many things within our school that allow children to think about their choices and make changes that are better for our environment. In everyday routines and in key learning areas of the curriculum, we have included awareness and investigations exploring biodiversity, energy conservation, water conservation, food sustainability and waste reduction.

Our sustainability program is embedded into our Strategic Improvement Plan, Strategic Direction: Wellbeing, with a focus on sense of belonging and community engagement.

How we did it

The project grew from a community-led garden group initiated by interested parents and blossomed into a weekly garden and composting lessons for a handful of children. Over several years, as our resources grew through fundraising and community involvement, the vision widened into a broader sustainability-focused program.

Student voice is an important consideration within the program. A Green Representative Council (GRC) consisting of 2 children from each class, meet throughout the year to discuss initiatives and to share in the workload. Students in Year 5 are now submitting applications alongside school captain and house captain applications, for the new role of sustainability leader. These elected students lead the GRC.

We established a Community Sustainability Committee including parents, community members, a P&C member, our school patron and a member of our local Environmental Education Centre.

In 2021, we also introduced the role of a sustainability instructional leader (SusIL). A substantial amount of time was allocated to the role to ensure that students and teachers, from Kindergarten to Year 6, are given the support they need to build their knowledge and skills and adopt a culture of sustainability in a holistic way. The SusIL is supported by a staff Environment Team.

Our recent initiatives

  • The Paddock to Plate program: This program began in 2021. Every classroom was supplied with a raised garden bed. All students from Kindergarten to Year 6 plan, plant, maintain and harvest their own garden bed. They then cook with their produce. In their primary years, all students will experience planting and then cooking in every season.
  • Wiping Out Waste program: In March 2021, we participated in this program with Rumbalara Environmental Education Centre (EEC). Although we had a strong foundation of redirecting waste to worm farms, chickens, mixed recycling and Return and Earn, when we completed a 24-hour audit, we were able to improve our sorting system with the purchase of 11 bin-system hubs and introduce a soft-plastic collection. Since the waste audit, we have had a lot of 'less to landfill' conversations and education. Over 30 students are in our green team and they help with all our recycling (Return and Earn, soft plastics, mixed recycling and organic).
  • Composting: We have 5 compost bins in all eating areas and a 3-bay compost system. Five worm farms rotate through the school so every class cares a worm farm for a term. Year 5 students take care of 12 chickens and the coop. All these things happen as part of the school’s daily routines.
  • Design a bush tucker garden project: Our Aboriginal students completed a biodiversity and habitat survey with Rumbalara EEC in Term 1, 2021 and it has led us to a ‘design a bush tucker garden’ project. Aboriginal students from Years 2-6 are learning about native plants and their uses and will be designing a bush tucker garden for our school.

Our achievements in 2022

It is important to us to connect with our community and after the restrictions of COVID, we are now starting to build those relationships again. One of our parents is a horticulturalist at the Royal Botanic Gardens and he came in to talk to students about what we can do to increase pollinators in our school grounds. He donated a native beehive and is helping us create a bee garden.

As part of the forces and energy science unit, Rumbalara came to us with the energy trailer and completed an energy audit with our Year 5 and 6 students in Term 1. The students investigated alternative energy sources as part of their science unit and the program finished with some action plan ideas to conserve energy. Students have created a 'power rangers' group who check classrooms for conservative energy use. They present the best energy-saver classroom with a prize at assembly.

We recently created a science living world unit for Year 3 and 4 students, focusing on the importance of bees and why they are in decline globally. This unit included a STEM project and students created games using their knowledge of bee populations and shared these games with the rest of the school.

Working with the community

We have an incredibly supportive whole-of-school community and a highly active P&C to help with fundraising and other initiatives.

The school has introduced a resource levy, to help cover the cost of e-learning software and sustainability projects throughout the school. The cost is $60 per student per year and replaces textbooks.

What’s next?

  • Term 4 – 2022: In the Stage 1 Earth and Space unit, students will be learning about water conservation and brainstorming action plans for our school.
  • We also plan to start our Bush Tucker Garden project aiming to finish by NAIDOC Week 2023.
  • We have developed a sustainability website to inform our community about our steps toward sustainability. On the website we promote environment events in our community and include information for more sustainable practices at home.

What our students and teachers say?

I loved seeing the change in attitude of the students towards waste management. As they have developed an understanding of the importance of minimising our waste to landfill and disposing our waste correctly for recycling and repurposing, they are developing a consciousness of the effect that they have as individuals on the planet. The students have also actively participated in the composting of their green waste in the form of fruit scraps which have been used for compost and for feeding the worms. Students then use both the compost and the worm wee to prepare the garden beds for the Kitchen Garden program and to fertilise their plants for optimal growth. This connection is a fantastic hands-on experience of sustainability in action.
Teacher Amanda Cooper - STEMIL, Empire Bay Public School.
The best part is the planting and taking care of our own garden. I loved the cooking lesson. I wish we could spend more time in the garden through the year. Every school should plant gardens and cook because it is fun!
Student involved in the initiative - Lilah Harper, Year 5, Empire Bay Public School.
Providing children with the knowledge, start to finish (full cycle) of growing food, to harvesting and cooking to get students interested in trying new foods. And the impact of waste in our society and how their decisions can make a change, even if it is one small change, which becomes knowledge for them but also to educate their family and to work as a team to make a change.
Community/P&C representative - Jo Lane.
Students were engaged and excited to participate in the sustainability initiatives. Their involvement in the hands-on activities has created a sense of pride and wellbeing as they have seen the effect of their actions. For example in preparing, planting and harvesting from their garden beds, the cooking and eating together of their produce, the active participation in waste management for the benefit of the planet. They are making a difference to the wellbeing of the planet which in our experience resonates loudly with the students and prepares them for their future.
Teacher Amanda Cooper - STEMIL, Empire Bay Public School.
Climate change is real, if we all make a change we can all make a real difference. Knowledge is power!
Community/P&C representative - Jo Lane.


  • DoE
  • School operations
  • Teaching and learning


  • Behaviour
  • Culture and values
  • Curriculum and learning activities

Business Unit:

  • School Infrastructure NSW
Return to top of page Back to top