The Eco-Schools Programme is Changing
Over the past year the national Eco-Schools team has taken the opportunity to consider how we would like the Eco-Schools programme to develop to better support our schools. We have spoken to Eco-Coordinators, carried out school surveys and reviewed our website and Eco-Schools Green Flag application process. We now have some very exciting changes to share with you that will be going live from September 2021!
The Eco-Schools Green Flag Becomes an Annual Accreditation.
We have decided to make the Eco-Schools Green Flag an accreditation that is renewed each academic year, with an application window open from 1st May until 31st July every year.
There are a multitude of reasons we have taken this decision. Firstly, participating schools can all be at a different stage in their Eco-Schools Green Flag journey. Switching to an annual model means that all our amazing Eco-Coordinators will, generally, be at the same point in our Seven Step Framework. This means we can provide targeted advice, support, inspiration and ideas – so watch out for our new and improved training sessions and monthly newsletters from September!
Drawing on our own teaching experiences, we always planned our learning and extra-curricular activities in academic years. We believe by moving to an annual accreditation, with an application window that coincides with the end of the school year, it will help the Eco-Schools process become more manageable and easily integrated into school life, whilst giving a clear deadline to work towards. A problem many of our fantastic longstanding Eco-Schools have had in the past, is the Eco-Schools programme can become reliant on one individual, and if this individual moves school, retires or is on long-term leave momentum and progress is lost. By aligning the programme with academic years, we hope to make Eco-Coordinator transitions smoother.
Eco-Coordinators and their Eco-Committees are completing so many incredible environmental actions and projects but because every school is currently submitting evidence and Eco-Schools Green Flag applications at different times it is difficult for our team to collate and showcase all this wonderful work. Moving to an annual application window will make it easier for us to highlight your collective impact on a global scale. At the end of each academic year, we plan on creating an Eco-Schools England Impact Report, with school case studies and statistics which we hope will inspire others and make all our schools feel part of a much larger community, working together to save our planet!
Changes to the Eco-Schools Green Flag Application Process.
To fully benefit from the move to an annual accreditation, our Eco-Schools Green Flag application process is also undergoing dramatic improvements. The new Eco-Schools Green Flag application form will be viewable and editable when you log into your Eco-Schools account at the start of the next academic year (September 2021).
The Eco-Schools team have also taken the decision to award Eco-Schools Green Flags based only on a school’s electronic application for the next academic year. Whilst our Green Flag Assessor visits were a positive and rewarding experience, with ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID, we thought it would be best to make a quick decision, providing clarity on this matter at the start of the academic year.
As we have taken the decision to rely solely on electronic Eco-Schools Green Flag applications, we have been busy developing a new electronic application form, which gives you and your Eco-Committee the chance to showcase your environmental efforts. There are more questions to complete over the school year and even optional, bonus questions to help your school achieve an Eco-Schools Green Flag with Merit or with Distinction! We have carefully considered each question and it is our belief that you, as an Eco-Coordinator, will be able to sit with your Eco-Committee and allow them to complete your Eco-Schools Green Flag application form during Eco-Committee meetings. Providing young people with the same ownership over the application process as they have long enjoyed over the rest of the Eco-Schools programme.
As mentioned, you will now be able to start filling in your online, Eco-Schools Green Flag application right at the beginning of your Eco-Schools journey, or if you are renewing your accreditation at the start of each academic year and this is something the Eco-Schools team actively encourage you to do. The new Eco-Schools Green Flag application form has a progress bar, so your Eco-Committee can monitor their progress as they work through each of the Seven Steps, completing environmental actions and populating their application form. Because of this new functionality and our move to an annual award, we have decided to no longer offer Eco-Schools Bronze and Silver Awards. Historically the idea behind these awards was always to maintain momentum and reward students, however, as Eco-Committees will now be able to see and report on their progress in real time; they will know when they are halfway to an Eco-Schools Green Flag or only have three questions left to answer! On top of this, moving to an annual award (as opposed to biannual) means that each year new Eco-Committee members can be rewarded with an Eco-Schools Green Flag, so twice as many young people are empowered with the confidence and belief that they can have a positive impact on our world.
What Does This Mean For Our School?
On Wednesday 14th July we sent emails to all registered Eco-Schools explaining what these changes mean to their Eco-Schools status and next steps from September 2021. Please check the email account of your registered Eco-Coordinator for this newsletter. If you have not received the newsletter please check your junk email or contact us directly firstname.lastname@example.org and we will resend. The national Eco-Schools team will be working through the summer and will be sending a welcome back email with further details to all schools once the term starts and the new annual Eco-Schools programme is live. If in the meantime you have any worries or concerns please just email or call.
Finally, every day our Eco-Schools team has the immense privilege of recognising and rewarding the fantastic environmental actions carried out by school staff and young people in schools throughout England. Our days are filled with smiles, laughs and happiness – it is a privilege to be able to celebrate your successes and provide support in overcoming barriers. As former teachers, we know that working in schools is challenging, there is rarely a moment to spare and countless priorities to manage. As Eco-Schools employees, we know that despite these challenges each of our Eco-Coordinators goes above and beyond to actively involve young people in environmentalism. Not because you must, but because you care. We are very proud of everything you have accomplished this school year and hope these changes to the programme will help you continue to drive environmental change in your school.
Enjoy a VERY well deserved summer break!
Lee, Francis & Karyn