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:
- Become the Eco-Coordinator at your school, if this is not currently a role, make it one!
- 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.
- Draw up an Action Plan. Energy should be on there, other good projects to start off with are recycling and growing vegetables.
- Collect data on energy usage from past bills. Work with the eco-team to plan a strategy on reducing electricity and gas use.
- 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.
- 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.
- Concentrate on 2 or 3 projects each year, always keeping students as involved as possible.
- 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.
- Report all the successes widely, keep people informed, and keep the campaigns visible.
- 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!