What is Eco-Schools?


A two-minute read providing a brief overview of the Eco-Schools Programme.

In our experience, educators and young people care deeply about environmental issues and have a strong desire to actively protect our planet. However, environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity-loss, or plastic pollution are huge global issues and the thought of tackling them can be intimidating, leaving many feeling overwhelmed and wondering ‘Where do I begin?’

The Eco-Schools programme provides a simple, seven-step framework that answers this question whilst empowering young people to make a difference in their school, local community and beyond. Since 1994, millions of young people around the world have worked through the Eco-Schools Seven Steps before being recognised for their efforts with a prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag.

Schools connect their activities to three or more of the Ten Eco-Schools Topics. These topics break large, global issues like climate change into more manageable and directed themes that prompt young people to consider environmental changes that they can make in their school and everyday lives.

For further information on the Eco-Schools Seven Steps and how they are delivered, check out the Nurseries or Schools section of our website. To find out more about the Ten Eco-Schools Topics (including examples) click here. Please also take the time to register for free and login to our Eco-Schools portal, where you can also access our resources and apply for an Eco-Schools Green Flag.

The Eco-Schools Green Flag

Understanding the Eco-Schools Green Flag accreditation.

After working through the seven Eco-Schools steps during the academic year, schools, colleges and nurseries can apply for an Eco-Schools Green Flag accreditation during the annual application window, open from 1st May to 31st July.

Applying for Eco-Schools accreditation is the perfect way to acknowledge, reward and celebrate the ecological achievements of young people. It clearly demonstrates that their hard work is appreciated, and it provides them with the confidence and motivation needed to continue actively engaging with environmental issues throughout their lifetimes. Finally, it also tells local communities that a school, college or nursery is forward-thinking and promotes youth-led environmental education and action.

As Keep Britain Tidy (the operators of Eco-Schools England) are a charity we charge schools £200+VAT when they apply for an Eco-Schools Green Flag. This fee covers:

  • The cost of an Eco-Schools Green Flag (or plaque) and certificate that successful applicants receive.
  • The cost of employing Eco-Schools Green Flag assessors, who provide bespoke feedback and recommendations on each application.
  • The staff resources required to manage and oversee the Eco-Schools programme throughout the year.
  • The cost of infrastructure including the Eco-Schools website, School’s Portal, and monthly newsletters.
  • Ongoing investment in the Eco-Schools programme and its resources.

An Eco-Schools Green Flag is then valid for one academic year, before renewal is required to remain an Eco-Schools accredited Green Flag school, college, or nursery.

Registration and Application

Explaining how to register with the Eco-Schools programme and the Eco-Schools Green Flag application process.

It is free to register with the Eco-Schools programme and you can here, or by clicking ‘Register’ at the top of this page. When you register with the programme, your registration request comes to the Eco-Schools Team for approval. The Eco-Schools Team aim to approve your registration within one working day (though depending on circumstances this may take longer). We strongly recommend that you use your school e-mail address to register, as this makes the approval process much quicker. Once your registration has been approved, you will receive an e-mail inviting you to login and complete additional information about your school.

Once registered and upon login to your Eco-Schools’ account, you will be able to access resources and start to deliver the programme. The Eco-Schools application form is open year-round, and questions can be answered in any order and at any point. Your application automatically saves to prevent any progress from being lost.

The application form is divided into seven compulsory sections, one for each of the Eco-Schools Seven Steps, followed by optional sections for schools wishing to apply for an Eco-Schools Green Flag with Merit or Distinction (see below).

The window to submit your Green Flag application opens on 1st May and closes on 31st July every year. Once you submit, your application will then be reviewed by one of our DBS-checked assessors and the Eco-Schools Team will be in touch via e-mail with your results, feedback, and next steps.

Merit/Distinction Awards and Renewals

Applying for an Eco-Schools Green Flag with Merit or Distinction and understanding the renewal process.

Applying for an Eco-Schools Green Flag with Merit/Distinction.

In 2021, The Eco-Schools Green Flag with Merit/Distinction awards launched for those schools, colleges and nurseries who go beyond the Eco-Schools Seven Step criteria.

The cost to apply for an Eco-Schools Green Flag with Merit or Distinction remains the same (£200+VAT), and whilst successful applicants receive the same Eco-Schools Green Flag, certificates reflect the Merit/Distinction award and recipients can also use the Eco-Schools with Merit/Distinction logo.

Renewing the Eco-Schools Green Flag Accreditation

The Eco-Schools Green Flag is an annual accreditation meaning schools, colleges or nurseries need to renew every year to retain their Eco-Schools Green Flag status. The reasons for this are as follows:

  • It aligns the Eco-Schools programme with the academic year.
  • Environmental education and youth-led action has more chance of becoming an embedded part of a school, nursery, or college.
  • More young people have the chance to participate in and benefit from the Eco-Schools.
  • The Eco-Schools Team can highlight and celebrate the achievements of young people annually on a national scale.

Schools renewing their Eco-Schools Green Flag are generally expected to build on their achievements the previous academic year, generally using the same step process. However, the application process for those renewing accreditation is streamlined, the seven step criteria is slightly altered, and applicants can choose to receive a dated plaque instead of a new Eco-Schools Green Flag. The cost to renew an Eco-Schools Green Flag remains £200+VAT.

Register today

Start your Eco-School journey today

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