Primary School of the Year

"The children are making a real difference, but are never complacent and always looking for the next eco-opportunity."

Eco-Schools is at the very heart of Damers First School: every pupil is taught about environmental issues and how they can make a difference to the world they live in. The school has become a leading force on environmental issues across Dorset and the rest of the UK. A variety of people have visited or spoken to the school to learn about their environmental work including: other schools, national news broadcasters, charitable organisations, leading conservationists, MPs and even royalty.

Children at Damers have participated in numerous amazing Eco-Schools actions. They are active in encouraging their local community to recycle a variety of items including ink cartridges, pens, biscuit wrappers, crisp packets, soap dispensers and baby pouches – raising £1500 towards the school’s own bird hide and wildlife area. The Eco-Crew launched the Poundbury Refill Campaign (with an amazing rap) encouraging 20 businesses to allow free water bottle refills, in order to reduce reliance on single-use plastics. Their Refill Campaign was so successful it appeared on CBBC Newsround! The school contacted their suppliers to request fruit and milk be supplied in sustainable packaging and encouraged other local head teachers to do the same. Damers worked with their local community, informing everyone how they could reduce their use of plastics. Pupils even put pressure on local businesses to do the same – leading to one local butchers becoming a zero waste shop. So far, 84 businesses have signed a pledge to remove 3 types of single-use plastic from their organisation. Pupils have also won four awards at the Enterprise Fiver Challenge with their Waxtastic No Plastic beeswax alternative to clingfilm. They went on to sell this product locally to raise a further £4000 to fund eco-projects at school.

At Damers all of their eco-work has had a huge reach locally and nationally. The school works with volunteers from the local community to grow and harvest fruit and vegetables. They have also contacted other local schools to devise a county-wide litter policy. Pupils from Damers have been invited to be a part of Dorset Council’s Climate Change Panel, separately, setting up their own steering group to help make Dorchester as green as possible. Nationally, they met with Michael Gove in Westminster to discuss the introduction of a deposit return scheme for single-use plastics. All of their hard work has had royal recognition from Prince Charles who visited Damers to learn more about their sustainability work.

At Damers environmental issues are integrated across the curriculum. Each class makes a termly pledge to help animals, people or the environment meaning every pupil has a voice to speak passionately about what they believe in. English lessons have focused on writing letters to businesses, MPs and other schools; art lessons creating eco-poster and science lessons on reducing waste. Ask any pupil from Damers about their eco-work and they will talk passionately, knowledgeably and excitedly about all they have achieved and what they hope to achieve in the future.