Eco-Schools is an international award programme that guides schools on their sustainable journey, providing a framework to help embed these principles into the heart of school life. Arden had already achieved Bronze and then Silver awards but last year our Eco-Schools Committee put in an application for Green Flag status. In order for us to achieve this we knew that we would have to show an assessor around the school so they could see evidence of what we discussed in our application.
On Wednesday 9 October, we were informed that the assessor would be coming to Arden on that Friday. The Committee had a meeting to check we all knew what we had to do and were available to meet with the assessor to give her a tour of the school.
The tour involved a general look around the school site as well as talking to some specific teachers about how their subjects have been contributing to the works for the Eco-Schools Green Flag. To achieve Green Flag one of the things that would be looked at is where in the curriculum Eco Schools themes are taught. So we introduced the assessor to Miss O'Grady who talked about how the Geography club are helping with Switch-Off Fortnight as well as what students study in Geography lessons, for example Waste in Year 8. Mr Phillips also talked about AS Environmental Studies and other areas of the Science curriculum that linked with Eco-Schools and Mrs Bennett discussed the D&T curriculum and what we have done at Arden both in lessons and through the G&T themed challenges, eg the Food competition to cook a recipe using leftovers and/or local produce.
When the tour was completed the assessor spoke with students from the committee and also looked through our evidence file.
After the assessor left we then had to wait to hear if we had achieved the Green Flag or not. On Monday the committee went to the fortnightly meeting to be greeted with the news that we had achieved Green Flag. We were also very proud to find out that we had also managed to be the first Secondary School in Solihull to achieve this award. We hope to see our Green Flag flying very soon.
The assessor will return every two years so to help us stay on track the assessor sent us some feedback on how we could maintain and improve upon our Green Flag Status. Below is what they said:
"The Eco-Committee is very strong at Arden with a wide range of students who are all passionate about the work they do. Awareness of their work is paramount across the school and I am more than positive that they will continue to improve and grow stronger. The students were fantastic to talk to and it was great to see the amount of involvement from the teachers across the school. Well done and keep up the great work".
Eco-Schools is an international award programme that guides schools on their sustainable journey, providing a simple framework to help make sustainability an integral part of school life. Eco-Schools can help enhance the curriculum and get the whole school united behind something important.
The aim is to help make every school in the country sustainable and to bring about behaviour change in young people and those connected to them so that good habits learned in schools are followed through into homes and communities. By addressing environmental issues and reducing waste, schools will save money, which can be reinvested elsewhere.
Benefits of joining Eco-Schools include:
- curriculum enhancement
- links to the community
- school improvements
- saving money
- recognition and publicity
What do Eco-Schools do?
Once registered, schools follow a simple seven-step process which helps them to address a variety of environmental themes, ranging from litter and waste to healthy living and biodiversity. Pupils are the driving force behind Eco-Schools – they form and lead an Eco-Committee and help to carry out an audit to assess the environmental performance of the school. In conjunction with the rest of the school and the wider community, it’s the pupils that decide the environmental themes they want to address and how they’re going to do it.
Measuring and monitoring is an integral part of the Eco-Schools programme, providing schools with all the evidence they need to showcase their environmental success. In fact, Eco-Schools can fit into virtually all aspects of the curriculum and help to make learning, both inside and outside the classroom, fun and engaging.
Schools work towards gaining one of three internationally recognised awards – Bronze, Silver and the Green Flag award, which symbolises excellence in the field of environmental activity. Bronze and Silver are both self accredited through this website and Green Flag is externally assessed by Keep Britain Tidy volunteers.
Undertaking the Eco-Schools programme is a long term journey and it can take time for schools to implement the different elements of the framework and engage their staff, students and community with it. We think it's a journey well worth taking though and the Eco-Schools team, along with a whole host of materials, information and resources, will be there to support schools along the way.
To find out more please click on the link to visit the website website: www.eco-schools.org