Early Years Setting of the Year

“The environment is our curriculum.”

Since beginning their Eco-Schools journey in 2003, Everton Nursery School and Family Centre have been at the forefront of environmental education in early years settings. Situated in one of the most deprived areas in England, Everton Nursery School’s holistic approach to learning is centered on environmental education allowing their children to make sense of the world around them and their role within it. Everton Nursery School’s eco-credentials are so impressive that an assessment visit to their school inspired and shaped the new Eco-Schools Early Years pathway launched in September 2019.

Every one of the 40 staff members working at Everton Nursery School take responsibility for educating young minds on sustainability using the nurseries’ self-created environmental curriculum. Alongside this curriculum, Everton have even created their own Eco-File, a document (closely linked to the Eco-Schools programme) which contains environmental lesson plans, activities and ideas. At the heart of their eco-curriculum is real-life experience, with activities including measuring rain fall, counting wind turbines at a local wind farm and litter picking within their school grounds. This hands on approach shapes their children’s values, perspective and gives them an understanding of the vital role they play in protecting the natural world. Teachers at Everton Nursery have over many years consistently demonstrated their passion and belief in environmental education and take responsibility for inspiring children to connect with nature and become environmentally
aware adults.

The environmental action staff at Everton are most proud of is their work on the Eco-Schools Waste topic, which focuses on the 5R’s. They have refused to drink from milk cartons with plastic straws, directly talking to their milk provider to arrange alternatives. Energy reduction happens each year by appointing electricity monitors, who the Eco-Schools team can confirm are extremely vigilant. Heuristic play encourages children to reuse natural objects as toys, meaning less plastic toys are being used in the nursery. All children participate in woodwork lessons, learning to repair broken things (they have repaired table legs, coat pegs and even shelves in their nursery). Finally, recycling is taught explicitly in the Nursery, with children visiting the local recycling centre and discovering what can or can’t be recycled in Liverpool – knowledge which they can take home to their parents.

For many years Everton Nursery’s Eco-Schools Green Flag has been proudly raised high above their school. Their work has allowed parents to participate in numerous ways, from donating recycled materials for reuse in school to attending sustainable and healthy cooking classes organised by the nursery. Their Eco-Board is a focus point of the nursery, regularly updating parents on their work and their newsletters let their community know about their environmental actions. As a teaching school, Everton have been able to inform other educators throughout Liverpool about the benefits and implementation of their Environmental Curriculum and their Eco-File has been widely distributed. Recently, their message has been spread further afield by sharing best practice on their ever-growing Twitter platform with even local councillors and MPs lining up to visiting to witness their environmental curriculum in action.

Everton Nursery School and Family Centre is truly at the forefront of early years environmental education in England.