St. Mary’s C of E, Walthamstow, London is a large school with a strong commitment to environmental sustainability. We believe that it is important to teach our pupils about the importance of protecting the planet and to show them how they can make a difference. So, in 2022, we joined Eco-Schools, a global programme that helps schools become more sustainable
Why Did we Join Eco-Schools?
We joined Eco-Schools because we wanted to raise the profile of eco-issues and develop our school’s approach to all aspects of sustainability. We also wanted to instil a sense of environmental responsibility in our pupils and give them hands-on experience in sustainability, conservation, and eco-friendly practices. Including environmental education in our curriculum has enhanced pupils’ understanding of ecology, climate change, and the importance of environmental protection.
Our Eco-Committee started by carrying out the Eco-Schools Environmental Review to give us a clearer picture of our school’s ‘green approach’. It highlighted the areas where we were already working towards a more sustainable future, as well as those we needed to focus on to become more environmentally friendly.
Our Action Plan
After analysing our Environmental Review, the committee found that our lowest scores were in the areas of Biodiversity, Healthy Living, and Waste. So, we decided to focus our efforts on these topics. We then considered what would be most achievable, make the biggest impact, and inspire the school community.
Our school is situated in the heart of Walthamstow, London; a city with very few green spaces. We wanted to encourage wildlife onto our campus, so we spoke to our bursar about purchasing bird boxes, bat boxes, bird feeders, and some large planters. We were fortunate enough to get funding for these and are now able to provide a more welcoming environment to local wildlife.
The children on the Eco-Committee took responsibility for investigating what items we needed, selecting plants, and buying, organising, planting, and assembling everything. They also decided who would care for the plants and how they would be looked after.
Our healthy living actions focused on improving our school meals to ensure they are healthy, include a meat-free option, and are from Fairtrade suppliers.
We met with lunchtime staff and catering teams to plan menus, look at healthy options, and find out where the ingredients came from. They were open to our ideas and happy to look at different options for future school meals. As a result, the impact of these changes will be long-term and sustainable.
By implementing a meat-free day and prioritising ethically sourced and healthy food options, our school is not only promoting sustainable and responsible eating habits but also cultivating a culture of conscious consumption and environmental stewardship among our pupils.
Our final goal was to reduce the amount of waste produced by our school. We started by securing recycling bins for the school building and worked with our waste company to arrange regular collections. We then looked at clothing waste and arranged a uniform swap for the end of term. As the event approached, we highlighted the financial and environmental benefits of the scheme. The event was a big success and will be repeated in the future.
Another initiative was our paper-free day, which encouraged teachers to create tasks that did not require the use of paper. Many classes embraced this option and were really creative in their thinking, with drama activities, hands-on science investigations, and the use of STEM technologies.
Involving the Whole School Community
By sharing our environmental actions through newsletters, displays, and assemblies, we have been able to raise awareness among pupils, staff, and parents about the initiatives and progress being made. This has helped us to engage the entire school community in our environmental efforts, encouraging them to participate and contribute to sustainability initiatives.
Hope for the Future
With the support of Eco-Schools, we believe that by sharing our environmental actions we will motivate others to adopt similar practices and take action. By highlighting our school’s achievements, we are showcasing the positive impact that collective efforts can have on the environment. We hope that our environmental initiatives will inspire all individuals in our school community and beyond to become environmental champions.
By Fi-Fi Phillips–Hall, Eco-Coordinator