The future is not just bright for Saint Mary’s Catholic Primary - it’s getting even greener!
Environmentally friendly kids from the school shot to the top of the award stakes by securing their third coveted Eco-Schools Green Flag award on 15 January 2014.
The pupils have been working hard to transform their school’s daily routine into one that benefits the environment and saves the school money.
Simple changes, like ensuring all unnecessary lights are switched off and that paper, cans and other materials are recycled have already cut bills as well as making Saint Mary’s Catholic Primary one of the most sustainable schools in the country.
Managed in England by Keep Britain Tidy, Eco-Schools asks children to set up a committee involving pupils from all years. They then set to work on a school audit that highlights areas of the school that could be made more environmentally friendly.
Headteacher Mrs Sacha Humphries said, “Securing our 3rd Green Flag award is something that everyone at our school and in the parish community can be proud of. It has been a fantastic achievement for all involved. Sustainability is an integral part of school life. Even I am now much better at switching off my lights at home and my recycling has improved further (I still have room for improvement on my composting skills however)! It has been a real privilege to join a school which is so passionate about looking after our planet and which encourages the children to appreciate the world which God has given to us.”
Research conducted by Keep Britain Tidy found that schools spend just under one MILLION POUNDS a year on electricity. Energy-saving light bulbs last up to ten times longer than ordinary ones and save between £5 and £10 per bulb, per year. Considering the amount of light bulbs required for each school – this change could prove to be a massive saving.
The benefits of working towards an award such as the Green Flag extend beyond the improvement of the environmental quality of the school. The programme gives the pupils a sense of responsibility and pride in what they have achieved. With this comes the hope that the pupils will continue this behaviour in the wider community.
For their 3rd Green Flag, the Eco council concentrated on the eco-topics: energy, litter, waste, global citizenship, healthy living and school grounds with biodiversity.
The Junior Energy Monitors lead the school in their energy saving campaign during eco-schools ‘switch off fortnights’ just before Christmas. After training from Cheshire East in October, the Junior Recycling Officers came back to school with lots of ideas on how to reuse, reduce and recycle all sorts of materials including paper, shoes, textiles and spectacles and show the rest of the school how to do it too. The children have enthusiastically taken part in the Big Tidy Up and ensured that no litter remains in the grounds. Over the last three years, the school has taken part in Fairtrade fortnight and has sold fair trade products at a number of school events, which has counted towards their ‘Global citizenship’ eco topic.
Over the last few years the school grounds have been transformed, with an extensive growing area, wildflower meadow, pond and spiritual garden. Between 2010 and 2012, the children with Mrs Patti Pinto of Congleton-based Eco learning planted 11 fruit trees to extend the school orchard, which now has over 35 different varieties of apple, pear and plum trees, many funded by the William Dean Trust. In recognition of all their work to enhance biodiversity, the school holds the gold award by Cheshire Wildlife Trust for ‘wildlife friendly gardening’. The school has an active after-school garden club run by Mrs Pinto. The school has reached ‘level 4’ in the RHS ‘Campaign for school gardening’ and is hoping to achieve level 5 later this year. The school also holds the Woodland Trust’s Green Tree Award at gold level.
The Eco-schools assessor, Mrs Liz Woodward was able to look at the eco evidence file and discuss sustainable projects at the school with Headteacher Mrs Humphries, Eco coordinator Mrs Patti Pinto and Mrs Rebecca Franklin, a school Governor on the Eco council. The adults were taken on a tour of the grounds and the school by members of the eco council James Franklin, Mai Craig, Joshua Minshull, Daniel Franklin and Ben Cobley.
The assessor was really impressed by the variety of projects the children have worked on in their grounds and the displays in the school. During a drop in to Class 2, many children were able to tell her about what they did for recycling, fair-trade, in the school garden and how they had used the outdoor environment to learn about plants.
The assessor Mrs Liz Woodward said, “It was really inspiring to hear how well informed the pupils were regarding all the eco schools topics and their passion for sustainability and their local environment. They should be very proud of their fabulous grounds and clearly enjoy using them to their full extent. WELL DONE to all the Eco Committee and school".
Mrs Patti Pinto, who is also the Congleton and District Eco-schools coordinator said, “I am delighted that Saint Mary’s has been awarded their third prestigious Green Flag by eco-schools. I have been working with the school for several years to enhance biodiversity in their grounds and help them renew their Green Flag. They have worked really hard and are a brilliant example of what can be achieved when everyone works together to become more sustainable. The children are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their eco projects and love working in the school garden and taking part in the Big Tidy Up