After hearing about our successful shortlisting for the TES sustainable Schools Award we shared the news with Roots & Shoots immediately. Over the past ten years sustainability has suffered by firstly falling off the curriculum and the 2020 sustainability goals seeming to be long forgotten about. I thought such charities giving students a voice for the environment and social justice would be much more difficult. In a culture of ‘if it’s not on the exam don’t teach it’ bucking the trend and sending students out into the work place with strong academic results AND skills beyond the classroom is becoming as rare as red squirrels.
Some schools are still brave enough to make their own decisions and low students to flourish in a positive environment which values their thoughts and opinions. Question any child and all will have some sense of he need to sustain our planet, less will know exactly why and how resources, economy and happiness are interlinked. Most understand that animals and people in other countries shouldn’t have to suffer, but few are willing to do any thing about it.
The recognition the TES has brought, underlines, for us the importance of children following their own dreams, but recognising how lucky they to live where they do respect this. The fact they can remove themselves from the normal self centred teenage world and drive basic school campaigns to international conversations in politics.
This past year has seen:
Two debate teams qualify for national Eco School finals
21 students visit the European Union in Brussels. They delivered a speech to European MPs on issues they chose themselves, including;
Global and local child poverty, lack of education
The energy crisis
Legalities of nuclear weapons and TRIDENT
After interviews with a Norwegian TV channel and child press international, they then went onto attend the first public meeting a European BREXIT negotiator had publicly attended. The children asked a plethora of questions and reported back to UCLAN centre for public engagement.
Throughout the year, students give their lunch times to design, source and make recycled fashion. Garments included using old music paper, chocolate wrappers, the problem baby wipes as well as bubble wrap, all items diverted from landfill. This impressive fashion show high lights to the students, not only the problem of waste, namely plastic, but the harsh conditions children and women find themselves working. Sweat shops which keep our fashion industry supplied with cheap fast fashion are understood as the hours and hours of their own time taken to produce just one garment at school.
The annual Schools’ Sustainability Conference, became for the first time the NW Eco Schools Conference, such is it’s vast reach of delegates, from across Lancashire.
With over 20 workshops for the 300 primary school students and three competitions for the secondary school students, even the teachers had a comprehensive CPD programme. Key note speech delivered by teenagers Ella and Amy, aka Kids Against Plastic gave everyone something to think about. From everything and the kitchen sink recycled music stand belting out the tunes, to farm animals and fire making within the concourse of Blackburn Rovers FC. The sweat shop, put teams if secondary school children in to a scinero of redundancies, unfair and uneven pay alongside unkind bosses.
The IDEAS challenge saw students solve how to move tomatoes down a mountainside without damaging them, using all their STEM skills. The zero waste packed lunch was so keenly battles that the majority of schools had NO WASTE and so a draw had to be made for winner.
All in all, the day was jam packed with ideas and collaborative sharing as well as a will to improve our environment saw both the secondary Trashion show and primary Trash Band receive rapturous applauses.