Eco Schools Green Flag with Distinction

I’m delighted to let you know that we have achieved our Eco-Schools Green Flag Award again this year with the extra accolade of receiving it with Distinction.  This is the highest level you can receive and is only given to those schools which the Eco-Schools judges believe have gone ‘above and beyond’ the requirements for a Green Flag.

The judges responded to our submission with a wonderful report outlining everything they loved about our environmental efforts over the last year.  I have summarised it below, along with some accompanying photos just to show how much we managed to pack in.  Environmental learning is something we feel as passionate about as wellbeing, as both are going to be so important in our children’s lives and the earlier they adopt the skills and foresight needed, the better.  Perhaps our beautiful woodland site makes it easy for us to have nature at the forefront of our minds - appreciation for the natural world lies at the heart of St Ives.  Examples of this within the curriculum have included Year 1 taking part in the RSPB Birdwatch, Year 4 learning about local, seasonal food, Year 2’s trip to Butser Hill and Year 5 class assembly based on their class book, The Legend of Podkin One-Ear, which considered climate change.

The judges loved how we started the academic year by nominating a new Eco Monitors Team whose first job was to carry out an Environmental Review to identify any issues and any spot gaps in our existing environmental activity.  These were used to form the basis of our Action Plan which then centred around Energy, Global Citizenship and Waste.  Our 3-day One World Festival taught our children the impact humans have on the environment and challenges we face in moving towards carbon neutrality.  The children upcycled discarded furniture, used renewable energy to make solar powered moving bugs, took part in real scientific research to monitor the impact of climate change on penguin populations and investigated our food carbon footprint.  They produced films and posters on environmental issues from the rainforests to the oceans.  They also explored the impact of fast fashion on the environment at the ‘waste’ fashion show, where children used recycled materials to produce outfits stylish enough to be modelled on the St Ives catwalk!  Later in the year, the children ran a switch off campaign during which we switched off all electricity to highlight how much we rely on it and how we must do everything we can to reduce usage.  Green House also led a water saving day where the whole school queued up in the playground passing water from one cup to another without spilling a drop to appreciate the importance of water preservation.  We also got involved with Haslemere’s inaugural Great Green Get Together competition.   We ran a Halloween clothes swap, so seasonal clothes are passed down from older pupils to younger ones and reused year after year.  Likewise, we also held a book swap so books are shared between families and read more than once along with a book recycle of older books from our library.  Activities like these give our children a solid understanding of doing everything they can to avoid putting anything in landfill.

Beyond the school, we have supported our local foodbank and fundraised for Magnet High School, an orphanage in Nairobi, along with two current Year 6 pupils who took the initiative to fundraise for Born Free by selling home-made lemonade. 

As a school, we have reduced our paper usage, both within the classroom and with you, our parents, by replacing paper forms with Microsoft ones.  We have also replaced our boilers with new, energy-efficient ones and are replacing bulbs with LEDs.

It is an impressive list of activities and we should be so proud of what we’ve achieved and learnt.  it is also important to note that so many of these activities extend beyond the award and have become part of the culture at St Ives and are simply things we do every day without realising the difference we’re making.  Whilst this is clearly a whole school effort, I’d like to especially Miss Smith who puts a great deal of thought and energy into our environmental work every year.  She also leads our Eco Monitors Team with such commitment, so I’d like to thank her and all of the Eco Monitors for leading us all so brilliantly last year and helping us gain our Green Flag with Distinction.

Kay Goldsworthy

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