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Update on the SEK Group Green School Awards 2023

After receiving the exciting news that our school had been one of the lucky winners of the SEK Green School Awards 2023, we were invited to attend the Awards Ceremony at the Ashford International Hotel on Thursday, 23rd November. One adult and three children were asked to attend from each of the 25 Kent schools, each of whom had been chosen as successful winners for all of their amazing work helping the environment. We were asked to produce a short, 1 minute, video outlining our main projects as this was to be used to introduce each school as they received their award, in conjunction with the nomination write ups explaining what each school had been doing in more detail.

On arrival, we were greeted by a corridor of Christmas trees and lights which led to the reception room with the ‘Show and Share’ area – it was so festive. Here we had the opportunity to speak to fellow winners and ask questions about their projects. It was amazing to see all the different ideas and we came away with a contact for a ‘Food Waste Collection’ project from a school in Folkestone involved in turning its food waste into energy fuel pellets – what a fantastic use for the amount of waste that, unfortunately, most primary schools get at the end of every lunch time.

 

After a quick ‘biscuit’ snack and drink, we made our way into the main conference room – it was beautifully laid out and we quickly made our way to our table. The event was opened by the Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School Choir from Canterbury; it was amazing as they had written and composed a song, ‘Heroes and Dreamers’, with an accompanying short film. The theme of the performance was, ‘What we can do, working together, to save our planet’. They then handed over to Nicola Everett, a broadcaster from KMFM, who hosted the event, guiding us through the morning of recognition. as everyone celebrated the achievements of all the attending schools.

After the 25 schools came up to collect their ‘Winners’ certificates and have their photos taken, the event moved on to the ‘Overall Winners Awards’.

The awards were split into the following categories:

Kent Recycling, Kent Environmental and Sustainability, Kent Nature Conservation, Kent Energy Conservation, Kent Clean Air and Climate. SE Kitchen Special Award, Primary School Trailblazer, Secondary School Trailblazer and Further Education Trailblazer.

We were so lucky, as we won two of the overall awards:

The SE Kitchen Award (Social Entreprise Kitchen Community Shop) for our ‘Pre-loved Clothes Sale’ project helping to reduce unwanted clothes being put in to landfill as well as helping our local community in these difficult financial times. We also offered free second-hand school uniform and free books at the event, to anyone that wanted them, plus we set up our Community Food Larder in the same room. The £106 raised (we sold everything for under £1) went to replenishing our food larder and around 250kg of clothes were prevented from going into landfill, so very successful. We are now planning on building a permanent outside structure on our playground to house our Community Larder, making it available all year round to all staff, parents and visitors. Alongside the community larder, we  have raised beds where our children grow their own seasonal vegetables, herbs and fruit in a Gardening After School Club. The children get to take the produce they grow home but any excess is given to our school kitchens to use in the school lunches which are cooked on the premises each day.

The second award was for the ‘Primary School Trailblazer Award’ which was bestowed upon the primary school that had worked hard, all round, to help the environment and nature conservation, had recycled and looked at sustainability, had taken part in energy saving, and cleaner air projects, to name but a few, and be an inspiration to others. We were so amazed that we had been picked out because all the winning schools had achieved so much with their work and commitment. That being said, we still proudly accepted this award.

What was lovely was that all the trophies received for each award were made of sustainable bamboo which we thought was a lovely idea, and very in keeping with the whole ethos of the awards ceremony.

Lastly, there was a surprise for me personally; my name was called out for the ‘Green Champion Award’. This was to celebrate my efforts in researching, organising and running environmental projects throughout the school, for attaining the school’s ‘Eco Green Flag Status with Distinctions’ and giving other schools in the area advice on how to achieve their own goals. Although the award was given to me, if it was not for the support and trust I myself have received from my school (especially Andrea deRoeck, our Deputy Head and environmental other-half), the guidance and constant encouragement from the likes of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots team – Jasmina & Tara, our borough council’s Senior Climate Action Officer, Claire Norman who constantly thinks of me when there is a pilot scheme or environmental project to be involved in (to name a few), and for the children of Goat Lees who constantly step up to every challenge I set for them, I would not have received this award. So, although my name was on the certificate, it was a symbol of everyone pulling together, working towards a better world, I think, and for that I say a big thank you!

   

 

 

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