Woodlands primary school goes green
27 September 2012
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Woodlands is set in an area where recycling was at a particular low. As a school we wanted to help the community, by not only tidying it but encouraging it become greener!
Our aims were to encourage the children to look after the environment and let them take this into their local community. Although as a school we had many of the aspects already in place to move forwards quite quickly through the awards we felt it was essential that EVERY stage was managed by the CHILDREN.
An Action Plan was created by the children to work towards the Bronze Award. This, along with the Eco Code which the children had created, was distributed to each class during the Eco Teams feedback session to ensure that the whole school were involved. Once this was completed we followed the same formula through each award. Allowing each class to feedback ideas through their representative and visa versa. We also held many Eco-Schools based assemblies to keep all informed.
Delivering the project and linking it to the curriculum
The idea of Eco-Schools was introduced to the children along with roles and responsibilities. Children from each class volunteered to become Eco Team members. Two of these children from each class were selected by their peers in a secret vote to represent their class. The children completed an Environmental Review of the school and found out all the areas that we were successful in and identified the areas which needed work.
The first projects were to tackle the energy and water consumption that the school uses. Following Switch Off week key areas were highlighted that needed to be addressed. The children began recording the energy consumption and made several posters to encourage people to turn the lights and projectors etc off after use. It was suggest by a member of the Eco Team that automatic lighting would be a good investment and following this automatic lighting was fitted in certain areas. The children still monitor the energy consumption and have noticed a reduction since the new lights have been fitted. The children identified taps that were leaking and have organised to get them fixed. They have also written letters to have hippo bags donated to save water on every flush.
The second major project the school took on was to improve the school grounds. Within this the Eco Team tidied up the school entrance and created an eco garden which consisted of raised beds, grow bags, planters, greenhouse, water butt and willow fencing. Each class grew some of the saplings inside their classrooms and these were transferred to the garden when appropriate. This was so popular throughout the school that a gardening club is now running on two afternoons due to the high demand.
The next was Woodlands War on Waste – within this project the children cleaned up our local Folly area, arranged a SWAP shop, held many workshops throughout the school and became waste detectives. We have changed our Waste management company. With lots of hard work and organisation from all the staff and the Eco Team, as well as the rest of the children, Woodlands is now a Zero Waste School. All composting, food waste, recycling is managed and done by the children in the school.
Each project was suggested by the children following different Environmental Reviews; the Eco Team met at least twice a half term. They were then discussed with their classes. Assemblies were held to further heighten the importance of each project.
There were many workshops held throughout the projects, especially Woodlands War on Waste. They included paper making, recycling art, paper weaving and recycling card making. Each class took ownership of growing seeds and saplings linking this to science and in year 2 to literacy – Jack and the Beanstalk. Caring for our world links throughout the curriculum in PSHE. There are many areas where projects are integrated into the curriculum but below are a few.
Year 1 look at ways people travel to school as part of their Geography topic Around Our School and also explore the local area.
Year 2 study plants and living things and look at their local area
Year 3 study Food and Farming The Sustainable Way as part of their Geography curriculum
Year 4 have a link with India and are looking at sustainability
Year 5 have a link with India and are looking at sustainability they also look closely at global perspective
Year 6 integrated the topic into their curriculum and investigated different types of compost and soils and also look at look closely at global perspective.
Getting the pupils involved
Every September the children in each class get to volunteer to become Eco members. They put their case forward as to why they would be good candidates and then their classes have a private ballot. The first job of the new Eco Team is to be updated on previous projects and then to carry out an Environmental Review one within the team (and another back in class with the whole class) to see which will be the new Action Points to work towards.
The Eco-Committee meets at least once every term. Each member on that committee has a specific role (although these are rotated). They have to take minutes, and feed these back to their class as well as display them on our Eco Board. It is very important that they have the time to go feedback to their class after every meeting and feedback on what has been discussed and decided at these meetings.
The Eco-Committee created and designed our Eco Code and presented to the whole school. They then went on to produce copies of the Eco-Code for each class. They did these on the computers which they printed off, laminated and presented to each class which are now on display for all to see. They displayed the Action Plan on the Eco Board and also fed this back to their class members.
The children wrote letters to many agencies and local businesses asking for grants. We heard back from two and have had grants from one company two years running and other help from another following their first initial grant. As a school we also had a small budget set aside. This money was then managed by the children and anything brought was taken after looking at their budget.
We received support from all the staff in the school who were fantastic at getting involved in each project. The parents were particularly involved with Woodlands War on Waste where Wiltshire Wildlife Trust gave us an enormous amount of support as well.
The major challenge that I found as Eco-Coordinator was finding the time to complete all the tasks that needed to be done to support the projects and also finding release time to meet with the team. I’m sure that this is a common problem among Eco-Coordinators as we are normally juggling a busy timetable, full time teaching and other subjects to coordinate. Although most of the meetings took place during lunch time and the Eco Team were more than happy to do this.
Benefits of being an Eco-School
Children have a heightened awareness of what a greener environment is and how to help to achieve this. They are now aware of how what they do locally will effect the larger global community. Many have learnt new skills and have an increased knowledge of recycling and composting. Within this they have learnt to take responsibility for their actions and the Eco Team have learnt how to successfully manage the fruit, food and recycling bins throughout the school.
Woodlands were only recycling paper in the small black bins to begin with and the vast majority (well into 90%) of the waste was going to landfill. Now 90% our waste is now recycled or composted and the other 10% is incinerated to produce electricity meaning that Woodlands are now a Zero Waste School.
Measuring the impact
As mentioned above we are now a Zero Waste School and this is all maintained and driven by the schools Eco Team. The team and classes are now aware that the lights should be turned off and regularly do so. The impact is visible throughout the school and when children are asked about any of the issues that they have worked on their answers are very informative. Monitoring is ongoing and projects are continuing rather than coming to an end which keeps their profile up. We are continuing to work hard to keep our new Green Flag status up.
Using the Pod’s resources
We take part in Switch-Off Fortnight
Nothing comes without hard work and dedication – be prepared to put some time into it.
Get the rest of the school team involved (adults), from the caretaker and the MDSAs (Mid Day Supervisory Assistant) to the head teacher and admin staff. The more that are involved the more help there is.
Get the community involved – they provide help and support and the school can do the same.
Let the children lead! - This way they take control and are able to engage with the assessor and any other adult who is interested in finding out what work has been going on. It also allows for their enthusiasm and they drive the projects forward with only a little guidance on your part.
Our schools India links has been pushed along the sustainable line and given our schools a clear focus keeping it current and fresh.
As an Eco Team we are working on the following:
Continuing with our other projects