Ten Steps to a More Sustainable School

Ten Steps to a More Sustainable School

Guest blog by Henry Greenwood – Green Schools Project

Teaching Maths at Kingsmead School in Enfield I was frustrated by the lack of awareness of environmental issues, and the lack of opportunities for students to understand the simple steps that they could take to improve the impact that they had on the environment.

Supported by my Headteacher, I developed the as yet un-created role of Sustainability Coordinator, assembled a group of enthusiastic students, and three years later we had saved the school £37,000 in energy bills, had 91% of forms taking part in our recycling programme, grown and sold potatoes, onions and carrots to staff, held Walk to School Weeks which improved the number of students walking to school from 32% to 50%, installed solar panels on the roof of the gym and raised the profile of action environmental action and sustainability in the whole school community.

Here’s a brief outline of how you too could achieve this:

  1. Become the Eco-Coordinator at your school, if this is not currently a role, make it one!
  2. Set up an Eco-team. Any year group that you think would be enthusiastic and willing to go into assemblies to spread the word can form an effective team.
  3. Draw up an Action Plan. Energy should be on there, other good projects to start off with are recycling and growing vegetables.
  4. Collect data on energy usage from past bills. Work with the eco-team to plan a strategy on reducing electricity and gas use.
  5. Get the Eco-team to present assemblies to the whole school. This will raise awareness and gather support for your projects from all the staff and students.
  6. Get your message out there! Get active on social media, create a noticeboard, put messages in the bulletin, get students to write articles for the newsletter and get a page on the school website.
  7. Concentrate on 2 or 3 projects each year, always keeping students as involved as possible.
  8. Measure the outcomes of all your projects – track your energy usage to see how much money you are saving, collect data on recycling, travel to school and any other projects you run so that you can monitor your impact.
  9. Report all the successes widely, keep people informed, and keep the campaigns visible.
  10. Keep going! It’s easy to lose momentum if a project doesn’t go to plan, if students lose focus or a key member of staff leaves the school. The benefits becomegreater the longer the projects run and they become part of daily school life.

This was the most rewarding experience I had in 12 years of teaching, and I’d thoroughly recommend doing it. If it sounds like a daunting project to take on or you are struggling to find time to do all this when you are already busy with everything else that being a teacher involves then there is help for you.

Based on this experience I set up Green Schools Project which provides guides, resources and templates that will take all the time and effort out of achieving this along with visits, tailored energy saving support for your school, and a student login to the website where they can see tasks, upload evidence and compete against other schools. We can also provide a student volunteer from a local university who can help with meetings, motivate the students and support with the projects. Have a look at www.greenschoolsproject.org.uk for more information and get in touch!

What makes a great global learning resource for use in schools?

What makes a great global learning resource for use in schools?

The good news is that teachers are showered with classroom resources, from both businesses and charities, on all manner of topics.

The bad news (for those people who are devoting their time and money to produce these resources) is that many of them are hardly used.

At Think Global, we’ve been running the Global Dimension Website for the past 10 years. The website is the repository for thousands of teaching resources on global issues. It’s the equivalent of moneysupermarket.com for teachers looking for resources – they choose their topic, the age range, the type of resource, etc, press search, and up comes a selection of resources. In maintaining this repository, we see and review all manner of resources – the good, the bad and the ugly (mentioning no names in any category!). It pains us to see resources that we know could have more impact – and so we’re on a mission to help both business and charities improve the quality of what they produce for schools.

That’s why we hosted a webinar yesterday, entitled, ‘What makes a great global learning resource for use in schools?’. The main presenter was our Head of Programmes, Kate Brown. (Kate is a former geography and citizenship teacher, and has also worked as an educational consultant, creating resources for many organisations including UNICEF, WHO, and others).

Kate outlined six top tips to bear in mind in creating great global learning resources for schools:

  • Make sure it meets the teachers’ needs. There is no point in creating a great resource from the charity’s (or business’s) perspective if it has no tie-ins with what the teacher needs to teach – for example, linking in with the curriculum. The resources need to be flexible enough for teachers to be able to adapt them – but with a ‘meaty core’ of content which the teacher would not have the time to create themselves.
  • Keep the global content up to date. Resources can get out of date very quickly. Some of the best resources are created in ways which mean that students can work on real-life case studies, using live data and information. There are data websites, for instance, that the resource can link to, to ensure that a resource has a longer shelf life.
  • Make sure the resource encourages discussion and debate. At the very least, a resource should provide prompts for open questioning, so a teacher can start a dialogue with students in the classroom.
  • Give multiple perspectives. All global issues can be looked at in different ways. It is important that resources give the opportunity for students to look at different points of view – and to question why those views are held. Think Global’s ten critical questions can help with this.
  • Be thoughtful with using images. Images can be very powerful in resources – they can generate emotive responses. But they can also reinforce stereotypes, or turn students off (for example, if they think that their emotions are being manipulated in the way images are used). Thinking very carefully about the images you use – and why you are using them – is vitally important in generating good resources.
  • Be thoughtful about action. Some resources are just about encouraging a specific action. It is sometimes better if students are able to decide for themselves what if any action to take – and to come up with ways to critically evaluate the impact of any action.

To find out more you can watch a recording of the schools resources webinar. It’s a masterclass in producing high quality resources which will be used. If you are thinking of producing resources, or want to improve those that you already have, why not get in touch – we might be able to give you guidance or even help you produce them.


Tom Franklin is CEO Think Global.  Visit their website at think-global.org.uk for more information.