Lorraine Cookson, Senior Behaviour Change Officer with the Climate Change and Environment Team reflects on the Sustainable Schools Programme
Just before the schools broke up for the summer holidays I had the pleasure of welcoming children and staff from nine of our Sustainable Schools to a special awards ceremony at the Council House.
Excited children (and staff) from schools across the city tumbled into the beautiful Banqueting Suite and Eco Teams took turns in giving presentations on the environmental work they had been doing as part of the Sustainable Schools Programme. Everyone had a fantastic time celebrating the fact that children, staff and the wider communities had worked hard to reduce carbon emissions and raise awareness of environmental issues. They also went away with certificates and tummies full of delicious cakes – which will help ensure the memory doesn’t fade.
The Sustainable Schools Programme has been running for three years and this year 18 schools across the city took part. The programme offers schools a series of workshops on key topics around things like energy saving, sustainable transport, healthy eating, sustainable waste and recycling and various biodiversity and growing projects. Each workshop is delivered by a specialist in the field and is following up with an action plan.
The programme supports schools in reducing their carbon footprint and involves pupils and staff alike in making the school more sustainable. As a minimum schools save 10% on their energy bills. For instance, this year Hodge Hill Girls retrofitted their school with LED lighting, new boilers and new windows and they have projected savings of £20k over the next few years. At the end of the process, schools submit their evidence and successful schools are awarded Sustainable Schools Status.
This year we were also set the challenge of supporting the council’s Fleet and Waste Team with its wheelie bin roll out and the overarching objective of increasing recycling levels. Children designed posters for the new recycling collection lorries and did homework about the importance of recycling and the effects on the environment if you don’t manage waste sustainably. 96% of parents who took part in our survey told us that they’d done more recycling as a direct result of this homework, so something of a success!
I wonder what we’ll achieve next year ….