If we are absolutely honest, how on this beautiful earth can a school be ‘sustainable’? We are users – and heavy users at that – of resources, heat and equipment. Health and Safety dictates that we cannot cut back on so many aspects of light and heat, while quick responses, financial constraints and necessity dictate that we cannot always select the cheapest options.
What we can do well is to educate the children in our care to consider and appreciate the value of everything they own and how they will live their lives. To understand they have options and to make ethical and sustainable choices.
From the youngest children in Nursery to our fledglings in Year 6, the girls have roles and responsibilities appropriate to their age to keep our school eco friendly. Lessons and clubs encourage them to see the value and fun in caring for each other, our equipment and their environment.
Our Governors and Staff fully support this emphasis and so many of our parents give their time and enthusiasm to ensure that each new (and often crazy) venture receives a good response.
All our projects are run by the children and we think being Eco is great fun.
LEADEN HALL SUSTAINABILITY WORK
- Green Flag Eco School
- DSCF Teaching Award Winner of the Sustainable School category for the West of England
- Eco Club runs drop in meetings Tuesday lunchtime for children from Nursery to the top of the school in Yr 6. There is no membership for this club – all welcome.
- Eco Monitors in each class are voted in at the start of each academic year, often there several in each class due to the keen competition. They sign a Contract at the start of their term of office.
- The whole school is involved in the annual redesigning of the Eco Monitor’s Badge. It is run as a competition and the winner has her badge made for every monitor for that year.
- We have Eco Monitors, Eco Gardeners and Eco Police (who award flags to congratulate especially good classrooms for their efforts).
- WeGoEco@leaden-hall.com is the email address for all correspondence from parents/pupils our outside agencies for Eco work.
- We collect and recycle everything we can from our own spent resources, parents and the local community. This includes printer and toner cartridges, mobile phones and chargers, brita filters, batteries, shoes, clothes and toiletries (for our local Refuge) books for the 3rd world charities (especially text books), paper, cardboard, plastic, tins and bottles. We also take on short term projects like stamps for the Albatross charity, Christmas cards for the Woodland Trust at Christmas and toys. We even collected and recycled 4600+ rubber bands to return to the Post Office!
- We have at least two thriving vegetable gardens. One which the gardeners run for the kitchen and a larger one which the children have run over the last 4 years for themselves, the boarders at the school and local charities when we have sufficient quantities. Last year the vegetables included, peas, runner beans, broad beans, corn, tomatoes, courgettes, carrots, beetroot, cabbage, kale, spinach, leeks, onions, Brussels sprouts and marrows and varieties of lettuce and potatoes. We also grow about 10 varieties of herbs and a lots of sunflowers because our birds love the seeds in winter. In addition we harvest lavender from various gardens, including our own, to make into lavender bags in our club meetings. The classrooms where we work smell wonderful at this time!
- We have a biodegradable ‘garden’ where we have planted about 15 items to see how they progress over a year underground. We harvested this crop in the summer of 2009 with some interesting results – where did the 100% biodegradable plastic carrier bag go?
- Around our vegetable garden on our sustainable wooden classrooms we have Art works made from recycled CDs in the shapes of snails, butterflies, sea-horses and a dragonfly.
- School meals are sourced as far as possible locally and our meat still comes by bicycle from the local butcher.
- In September 2008 we were awarded the Life Saver Award from Blashford Lakes for being the best school to visit their biodiversity site over the year and produce no unrecyclable rubbish from the children’s lunch boxes.
- We are now running 4 school busses and with our ever expanding travel plan we have increased our shared driving , walking bus and individuals walking/cycling to school from just 10% to 55% a year ago with a new review indicating an improvement on that figure.
- The parents bought us a video camera and nesting box which we televise constantly in our dining hall during the nesting season. Last year a family of Blue tits reared 8 chicks to our absolute delight.
- We joined the Red Start project on Salisbury Plain and sold Nesting boxes to encourage everyone to consider caring for the birds in their community. At school we have around 20 nesting boxes including an owl box and the bird take up is so popular that we have had to section off an area next to our dining hall (which overlooks it) as a dedicated bird ‘restaurant’ with ‘to let’ signs describing the type of homes we have on offer the various birds.
- RSPB junior membership leaflets distributed and we take part in the annual Bird Watch in January. Leading up to this we listen in class to bird song and learn about the birds by drawing the different types.
- We had a ‘British Fish’ term when we learned about the fish in our rivers. We drew them, painted them and made beautiful papier mache fish which we displayed on the balcony of our school hall.
- As part of our recycling programme we devise competitions to make sure everyone in the school has fun and gets involved. Our latest is the Welly boot competition with a class for painted/coloured in welly templates, and another for reusing an old welly as a piece of art or as a useful object. We have hedgehog wellies, a red funnel welly and flower-pot wellies, together with watering can wellies and car wellies and a bird feeder welly (to name but a few). We have involved the leader of our local district council, Hunter Boot Company and the Red Funnel ferry line to show the children that outreach is important.
- We believe that all our efforts have an impact on the wider community so we think globally not locally. How can we understand how our use of energy or shopping decisions can affect a country on the other side of the world unless we involve them too? So our latest global adventure is a two year project through Comenius (our third project) called ‘From Acorns to Eco Warriors’ and will connect Poland, France, Turkey, Greece and maybe Spain (the project is still growing) in sharing our enthusiasm and ideas. We have already visited Poland and met some of the teachers from the other schools to plan our project which starts in earnest in September 2009.
- Previous projects have linked Salisbury, Swindon and South Africa in a recycling campaign in which 60 x 1m sq. boxes of usable goods of every type including computers, to Dihlabeng, a small township in South Africa. From them we learned about door gardens and how to knit plastic bags into hats and much, much more. We did learn that they could dance better than us!
- Our school building, completed a few years ago, is made from sustainable wood with copper roofs. There are no gutters or drains and the water runs off into the playground in shoots for the children to play in before being soaked straight back into the ground. The entire new building is built on pylons into gravel with wooden walkways (no concrete) to help the water table. We have installed push button taps and energy saving light bulbs. Our Eco Monitors turn off stand-by lights on printers and computers, classroom lights when not needed and turn down the heating to 12 degrees each night. The well insulated classrooms have energy saving lights and heating.
- Other schools are invited to visit us so our pupils can help them on their road to Green Flag Status (we are a Green Flag Eco School since January 2008). Both the Head and the Eco Co-ordinator are invited to talk at Sustainability conferences to encourage other schools to take up the baton for themselves.
- We encourage our pupil’s families and friends to join us in our eco ventures and nearly every week we have a piece in our Yellow Pages to encourage participation. For example we ran a 3 week analysis of heating and lighting to show families how very small changes can have a huge impact on our carbon footprint. We are following this up shortly with a similar project so we can compare results.
Sally Litherland – WeGoEco@leaden-hall.com