‘Eco-schools’ is the largest sustainable schools programme in the world. Operating in over 40 countries. Nearly 40,000 schools take part globally and over 50% of all English schools have signed up. The programme is delivered in England by the charity Keep Britain Tidy. Eco-schools provides a framework that helps schools to recognise good environmental practice and identify areas that they need to improve on; the school then creates an action plan detailing how they will make those improvements. Crucially, the programme is led by children and supports many areas of the curriculum.
Eco-schools delivers the Governments Sustainable Schools Strategy accrediting schools as they progress. Schools can receive a Bronze Award, Silver Award and ultimately the Green Flag, which is endorsed worldwide by the United Nations Environment Programme as an international symbol of excellence.
We have a Green Team, made up of two children from every class from reception to year 6. We meet each half term. Each meeting we discuss what we do well as a school and look for new ways to become a better eco-school. Each time the Green Team meet we produce an action plan outlining ideas to become a greener school. The green team then feeds back the action plan to their class.
For example, we discussed how all fruit peelings at break times were placed in the normal bins and that these could be composted. The children came up with the idea of a bag on the fruit trolley for the children to place their fruit peelings into and then some year 6 children to put this onto the compost.
The Green Team completed a formal Environmental Review. This included the nine topics of waste, water, transport, litter, energy, biodiversity, healthy living, global citizenship and school grounds. We discussed these topics to see what we do well as a school and what we could do to improve. These are some of the examples of the questions we asked.
Is the school litter free?Does the school recycle paper, card, ink cartridges, batteries, milk bottle tops, fruit, plastic, cans?Does the school use recycled paper? Does the school use recycled paper towels? Are lights left on unnecessarily? Are computers left on when not in use? Are windows left open when heating is on? Does the school encourage walking to school? Do the school grounds include areas of wildlife habitat other than those offered by grass on school fields? Do school toilets have water saving devices? Does the school grow fruits and vegetables? We realised that as a school we had many positive things that were in place but had more we could do with many areas needing further thought.
We wrote an eco-code as the Green team to be shared with the whole school community. Our eco code is now displayed in every classroom.
In July 2010 as part of their literacy year three children write persuasive letters to local companies to get a water butt for our school gardens. Thanks to Homebase and two children with their persuasive writing we now have 5 water butts.
We decided as a school to take on a big project for one of the nine topics, biodiversity. With two years of hard work from staff and pupils the gardens were transformed. Each class now sows, grows and harvests plants throughout the year. The children built a mini beast mansion and voted as aschool to name it Buggingham Palace. We also sell all our plants each year to
the families of the school in the summer as well as use many plants for cooking.
We entered the Big Wildlife garden and achieved Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards for all our efforts.
In July 2011 we had a GO GREEN day to raise the local communities awareness of what we do as a school to become more sustainable. There were a number of activities throughout the day which all of the children were involved in. Every member of staff and pupil had to dress in green and the whole school participated in a wake up shake up to kick start the days activities. Each class focused on one of the nine topics and spent the day creatively exploring this issue. For example year 6 looked at reuse and reducing waste. They had to think of 150 ways to reuse a plastic water bottle.
Every child had to bring in a healthy packed lunch considering how healthy the food was and the number of food miles and packaging. At the end of the day we held a GO GREEN fayre selling our recycled jewellery we had made and reusable bags we had made as well as our produce grown by the children. Children handed out leaflets they had made with tips to be green at home to all the parents too.
The Green team also invited all parents to see our big wildlife garden that we had just achieved Gold for. We even got a mention in the local newspaper!
The Green Team is increasingly proactive in producing information for the benefit of the whole school. The Green team now has a new member of a teacher governor Mrs Harrington who contributes to all our agendas and actions.
The Green Team has completed a new Environmental Review and has recorded the results. We now have a better understanding of what our school needs to continue to focus on. There is now a designated notice board for the green team, which informs the school of any forthcoming events and any information to do with eco-school activities.
In November 2011 the whole school took part in another big project of Energy and completed in Switch Off Fortnight. Children across the school made posters to remind us to turn our lights off and each class had power rangers to turn the lights off each time the class left the room. It reminded us to turn off unused lights and not leave computers and televisions on standby.
Also in 2012 we invested in solar panels and hope to make a saving of £3,000 a year on our energy bills. The panels are guaranteed for 25 years so the school should benefit for some time.
“ An exceptional school whose pupils are amazingly knowledgeable.”
“ The school recycling ethos is evident with the use of old tyre planters, wellie boot planters and newspaper plant pots.”
We have also just achieved the RHS campaign for School Gardening Awards levels 1, 2 and 3.
Year 3 and 4 children are in charge of the garden this year and have been sowing, growing and harvesting their own wheat to make their own bread.
As a green team and a whole school we have achieved an incredible amount and improved our carbon footprint to become more sustainable. We are currently awaiting inspection and hope to achieve the Green Flag, so watch this space!
Breaking News ! I am very pleased to announce that we have been awarded The Green Flag which is the top award for an eco school. I would like to thank Laura Plackett for coordinating our efforts, ably supported by Ann Harrington.
The new school year in September 2012 saw a new green team voted in with two children from each class with the key focus on energy, litter and global citizenship. The green team discussed what the school do well in each area first and then thought of some ideas to focus on for the year ahead.
The Power Rangers!
As energy was a main focus, the green team wanted to be called the power rangers and Christine and Ethan became the light monitors after partaking in Switch off fortnight for the second year running. They now check each class randomly each week for lights and computers being switched off and leave a sign in each class to always remind staff and children to be more energy efficient.
The new year began with a new Eco Code written by the green team and displayed in all classrooms.
In January Neve and Charlie, from the Green team became the new litter monitors and began to help Mr Brown once a week to empty the bins in each classroom. This has proved to be a good way to monitor rubbish in every class and how we need to improve. Their findings have been reported back in assembly to the school and as a result we have greatly improved out litter and recycling.
Year 5 planted potatoes as part of the potato council national competition. They will nuture these until the middle of June when they will be harvested and weighed. One seed potato was planted in a clear plastic bottle to show the children the stages of growth both above and underground.
Year 1 and 2 had the topic of hot and cold in spring 2013. They found out about the affects of global warming in particular on the ice caps of Antarctic and the habitat of the penguins. They had a fantastic cake sale and raised enough money to adopt two penguins from the WWF to help sustainability in the Antarctic.
Following the litter theme the green team did a litter pick in the playground and had great fun! They were to make a difference to the school grounds and found no fruit or milk cartons as a result of new fruit and milk bins in the playground.
Years 3 & 4 had a wonderful visit to Goodwood Home Farm as part of their Farming topic. While there they saw a range of farm animals including orphan lambs and dairy cows. There was also plenty of farm machinery to see too, including a milking parlour. It gave a good insight into life on a working farm.
A walk around Sesley copse also taught the children about wildlife and the different types of plants that could be found. Lots of information gained and a fantastic day was had by all.
In April Mrs Harrington, Mrs Saville and Mrs Plackett went on a course to learn about how to plant and maintain a willow structure.
The old fedge was coppiced ready for a new willow tunnel to be planted on the field. Year six then used the coppiced willow to make plant structures.
The willow is an ongoing process that will provide another natural play area for the children.
We have just received an excellent pack of new tools, garden gloves, seeds and books, which will be put to good use with Mrs Harrington in the outdoor classroom and gardens.