Advice, Ideas and Inspiration from Green Flag Eco-Coordinators!
During our most recent Eco-Schools Online Training Course (training places still available), the Eco-Schools team enjoyed meeting and working with experienced Eco-Coordinators from across England. Each of these inspirational Eco-Coordinators have achieved Eco-Schools Green Flag accreditation for their school (some multiple times over the past several years). We decided to ask these Eco-Schools experts a series of questions in order to reflect on their journey and provide advice to our other amazing Eco-Coordinators throughout England. Enjoy!
What has been your most rewarding Eco-Schools experience?
“Watching my top year (Year 8) being excited to be the ones running and leading the project. They watched how it worked when they were in Year 6 and 7 and are now desperate to be the ones leading the way.”
“Seeing the hard work of the children and the commitment they have to being part of the Eco-Team. The development of their confidence in voicing their views and opinions in how we can help our school become more eco-friendly.”
“A letter from a local resident to say that she’d noticed we’d been out litter picking and what an amazing job we were doing of clearing up the streets.”
What has been your most successful Eco-Schools Project?
“The work we did on reducing our pack lunch waste… the things that were taught about reducing waste in pack lunches are still being used and this has been lovely to see.”
“Gardening and ending up with 20 pumpkins that we then made into soup for the whole school.”
“The food waste bins (house competition to have the lightest bins) mainly because of how involved the children were, how they reduced waste and how competitive they became (although we did have to stop them eating orange skins and let them leave them on their trays)!”
“Pen recycling, it started just within the school and has expanded to include our senior school, a local church and another local primary school.”
“Planting 400 trees at the school’s local field centre.”
“Every year we hold a plant a plant day at school with parents and children planting a variety of plants in the school grounds to support wildlife… Children love this day.”
“Our student-led recycling project. Each classroom has a recycling bin and the form in the classroom are responsible for emptying bins into the dumpster recycling bins every Tuesday morning. This allows students to be part of the process regardless if they are part of the Eco-Committee or not. It helps to build social responsibility.”
What tips would you give to another Eco-Coordinator and their Eco-Committee?
“Delegate – the children wanted to run a recycling scheme and another member of staff worked with them to set it up as he had run one at a previous school.”
“Make all staff aware of the project as it is amazing how many managed to weave things into their lessons, or were already doing things related to what we were doing.”
“Don’t restart everything if you don’t have to – if there is something that is still ongoing from a previous Action Plan stick to it!”
“Use other agencies to support eco-work.”
“Make small steps.”
“Set achievable targets so that children can see the impact they are making.”
“Small steps lead to giant strides – start small if it is right and idea can snowball.”
“Don’t worry about the assessment because the children love sharing what they have done with everyone.”
“Make what you are doing accessible and understandable for all children.”
“Don’t be afraid to make changes along the way as your Action Plan evolves.”
What one thing has your Eco-Committee tried that didn’t go to plan?
Note: we wanted to include this question to show that sometimes things don’t go to plan and that’s fine, you can still use this as evidence towards an Eco-Schools Green Flag, it’s all part of the journey!
“Hedgehog houses as there was too much footfall through our nature reserve.”
“Involving local businesses. This was at a stage when businesses were beginning to be challenged on single-use plastic. As a result, businesses weren’t keen to join our Waste Week activities. We aim to try again in the coming months.”
“Getting parents to turn off car engines whilst waiting at pick ups and drop offs. There wasn’t a safe wat to get children to enforce it and although they sent out letters and created posters it didn’t make much of a difference.”
If you have one piece of advice for other Eco-Coordinators what would it be?
“Have realistic and achievable goals – e.g. my students would love solar panels on every building, which unfortunately is unlikely to happen, instead we have focused on what individuals can do.”
“Communicate with all staff.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask the Eco-Schools team questions, sign up to training if you can!”
“Be led by your children and their ideas.”
“Try not to do everything, get other staff on board. Regular communication with pupils and staff helps too.”
“Try and have your eco-meetings during learning time and emphasise the importance of these meetings to SLT. I’ve spent so many lunchtimes trying to get children together.”
“Enjoy every second of it, get involved in large events like Switch off Fortnight, RSPB Bird Watch, World Ocean Day.”
“Enjoy the process.”