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The verb ‘to sustain’ came into English from the French soutenir (in Italian, the verb is sostenere). It means to keep a person or a community from failing; or to cause something to continue at its existing level or standard. The word has been used in this way since the thirteenth century.

In schools, good results have to be sustained (and, if possible, improved). Staffing levels have to be sustained, depending on the budget. Sustainability, in these contexts, relies on the school's capacity to keep going at the same level. If a specific training initiative is in place leading to a new strategy, the school has to be sure there are enough trained staff to take this forward – to ensure its sustainability.

However, ‘sustainability’ now ...

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