The Eco Schools Green Flag Award scheme is a pupil led environmental project involving hands-on, real world learning involving the whole school and the wider community. At St Stephen's we have been successful in our bid for the Green Flag Award twice and have been working hard to achieve a third Green Flag Award which was successful in June 2018. We have been working very hard within all areas of the programme which include:
- Global Citizenship
- Healthy Living
- School Grounds
During the past twelve months, our Eco Team have been involved in lots of different projects relating to the programme. These include...........
We have been working very hard improving our surroundings and increasing the children's knowledge and understanding of the importance of protecting and enhancing biodiversity.
We took part in 'What's Under Our Feet' and explored our school grounds to find the answer. The results will help scientists at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) understand the relationship between climate, the availability of invertebrates and how this impacts on UK bird numbers and their migration patterns. We also took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch and reported our findings to the RSPB.
The changes in bird numbers enable problems to be spotted and, more importantly, provide the first step in putting things right.
During Eco Meetings, the children have made bird boxes, released frog spawn into our Eco pond and released butterflies into the Eco Garden after watching them grow from caterpillars into a chrysalis before emerging into a butterfly.
Our Reception Class currently take part in a Forest Schools programme. This programme offers the children the opportunity to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a natural environment with trees. We developed a piece of land in the school playing field and cleared the area to make an environment for our children to achieve a positive outdoor experience.
In addition, we purchased a new Bug Hotel in May 2018. The company helped to build the hotel during workshops held across Key Stage 1 with our children sourcing the bugs. The children learnt that insects are an integral part of a successful garden and can actually help control and reduce the populations of detrimental insects. They understood that by providing these insects with a home, they will be promoting wellbeing and the population numbers of beneficial insects.
The Team has been looking at the ways in which we can save energy - both at home and in school. Members of our Eco Team take weekly meter readings with the Site Manager and plot the results onto graphs so we can easily make comparisons and check what activities have had an impact. On 24 November 2017 we had a 'Switch Off' day where we spent the day without electricity. Lights were turned off, along with computers and interactive whiteboards. Electricity usage, naturally, took a dip which led our Eco Team to investigate the feasability in switching our lighting throughout school to LED. We were successful in negotiating with an outside company ESL (Energy Savings Lighting) who will guarantee savings in electricity charges and who fitted the whole school with LED lighting during the summer of 2018. Our Eco Team delivered an assembly to explain why we would be taking part in 'Switch Off' day and the impact they hoped it would have. Read on...........
On Friday 18 May 2018, we took part in 'Empty Classroom Day.' This is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. This not only improves children's health but also engages them with learning, leading to a greater connection with nature. As an added bonus we were be able to save energy in school while the children are learning outdoors.
This area is one of the simplest ways to show children the impact our behaviour has on the environment. Our Eco Team arranged for the whole school to take part in the 'Great British Spring Clean.'
We also took part in 'Clean for the Queen' when the whole school took to the streets of Kearsley to clean the neighbourhood in celebration of the Queen's birthday.
Global Citizenship educates and prepares young people for their role in a modern world, beginning with an exploration of different cultures, languages and economies. To help the children be aware of the wider world and have a sense of their own role as a world citizen we invited Fairtrade into school to deliver an assembly. The children listened to a presentation about what Fairtrade does and why. They learnt that Fairtrade works at changing the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fair deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. They then had the opportunity to purchase and sample Fairtrade products.
Our School Council choose to support a different charity each year and this year have chosen a charity which helps children in rural India to go to school instead of having to work. This charity is called Project Mala and we have sponsored a boy and a girl. The School Council delivered an assembly to the whole school and explained why they had made the decision to support this charity. One of our Governors regularly visits India as part of her work and has visited the charity to find out more. Take a look at some of the interesting photographs she has taken...........
This topic is one which the children have been very busy working on. They understand there is link between a healthy environment and a healthy life and realise that what is good for us is also good for the environment and a environmentally sustainable diet is often also a healthy diet. During the work on our Eco Garden, we built a polytunnel and raised beds in which to grow fruit and vegetables. This has been very successful and we provided our school kitchen with some of our produce to use for our school dinners. The excess produce was sold to parents after school and during our Sports Day.
Mental health is, however, just as important as physical health. During our Enrichment activities on Friday afternoons, our Learning Mentor offers a 'Mega Mindfulness' session. This session is designed to relax the children and to reduce stress levels.
We have been working EXTREMELY hard on this topic area. We have developed an overgrown piece of land in the school grounds and created a fabulous Eco Garden. Take a look at the photos to illustrate the transformation..........
We have created a pond which houses frogspawn, tadpoles, newts, snails, ramshorn snails, great pond snails and fully grown frogs and toads. In addition, we have received a donation of two shubunkins from our local PCSO. The fish are now thriving in our pond adding colour and liveliness. We have also been fortunate to receive donations of bird boxes and plants from our local neighbours who are extremely happy to see the improvements made to their environment.
Not only have we been working on the Garden, we have also improved our school playground............
......and created different areas around school including a Reflection Corner, a Winter Wonderland and a Fairyglen. Take a look.
As part of their Enrichment Activities, Reception Class enjoy taking part in a Forest School session each Friday morning. Forest School is an inspirational process which offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a natural environment with trees. Look at the change our children have made to a corner of our school field. And take a look at the bird boxes in situ which our Eco Team has made...............
We are justifiably proud of our outdoor learning environment and we feel it makes a visible statement about our school and what we stand for.
Due to the location of our school, traffic and parking is a huge problem for St Stephen's. We have looked at different ways in which we could alleviate some of the problems to benefit both our children and the local neighbours and community. We have introduced a Walking Bus scheme which not only tackles lateness and absenteeism, but also promotes road safety, We also encourage our children to walk to school and monitor the class statistics. The class which has the highest percentage of children walking each month receives the 'Walk to School' trophy in our Celebration Assembly.
We have also invested in cycle racks to encourage our children to cycle to school. Hand in hand with this initiative we take part in Bikeability each year. This is a two day course in cycle training from the first basic steps of cycling taught in a traffic-free environment, to teaching the skills and knowledge required to keep children safe on today's roads. In addition, this year, we are also taking part in the Right Route Cycling project. This project incorporates routine maintenance work on bikes, studying local maps to work out the best and safest route to cycle and also practical cycling on the road.
We have purchased a 'Safe Parking' sign which is outside our school gates each morning and afternoon. One of our School Governors monitors the driving and parking each afternoon when parents are collecting their child from school and advises about safe parking. In addition, as part of our ongoing work with road safety, we are working hard with the local authority and have appointed two Road Safety Ambassadors. The ambassadors have received packs detailing lots of information about road safety which they will feed on to the whole school.
At St Stephen's we embrace the 5Rs.
- Refuse - we don't buy products we don't need
- Reduce - we don't buy products we will not use
- Reuse - we upcycle lots of products
- Repair - we repair as many items as we can
- Recycle - we recycle lots of products eg: batteries, ink cartridges etc
We have taken part in 'Waste Week 2018' and have invited parents to collect and recycle aluminium and steel cans along with small electrical items. All metal was weighed by a local scrap merchant and the funds generated used for Eco resources.
We have also invited the school to take part in an 'Upcycling' competition. Using recycled materials, we asked the children to create a weatherproof creative structure which will be displayed in our Eco Garden or around the school grounds. Take a look at some of the fantastic displays.
Our children also had a go at making Easter Baskets. We asked parents for donations of seeds and plants and recycled empty plastic milk bottles to use as containers. The children had a great time decorating the bottles and learning what a plant needs to grow successfully. Take a look at the children in action.
All children on school dinners now place an order with the school kitchen and choose their dinner each morning. This has dramatically reduced the amount of food waste produced by the kitchen who are now able to accurately cook the correct amount of dinners from the orders.
Also, twice a year, we take part in a clothes recycling scheme. Bags2School deliver bags which are sent home for parents to fill with unwanted clothes, shoes, bags etc which are returned to school and collected. The unwanted items are then sold to importers and wholesalers in many countries of Eastern and Western Europe, Africa and Asia which all benefits the Circular Economy.
A changing climate and a growing population could mean more of us having to share less water meaning water conservation will become an issue. Treating and pumping water to homes, schools and businesses uses huge amounts of energy and heating the water costs everybody. St Stephen's has recognised savings can be made in this area and have purchased water butts for the Eco Garden to keep our flowers and vegetables well watered.
To assist with the watering of the plants in the polytunnel, we have recycled an old water tank from school and used old plastic pipework to create an irrigation system. We have remodelled the guttering from Reception's garage to drain into the water tank so we are able to use rainwater to provide water for the plants and flowers in the polytunnel. Please have a look at the system in action...............
We have also invested in self flushing urinals and self closing automatic taps.
In addition, we have plastic bottles filled with pebbles inserted into each toilet cistern so less water is used for each flush. We are hoping to see a reduction in our water bills reflecting the investments and initiatives we have made.