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We are committed to improving sustainability across all areas of the school, so that we can contribute as much as possible to reducing the impact of our actions on our planet. We want to play our part in ensuring that we protect the planet for our students, and for future generations. A key goal in this is to ensure that we reduce our carbon footprint, as well as looking at increasing biodiversity and habitats on our sites.
Eco-Schools (eco-schools.org.uk) has been running at Barnwell school since 2017. It is a group of like-minded students taking action to improve the environment within our grounds and in the wider world. Eco-Schools is an international organisation, with 20 million children involved in activity over 65 countries, and we are proud to be part of that. Through audits of our school’s performance against criteria ranging from links with international communities to the effective management of waste, students are able to determine an action plan for improvement. Effective demonstration of student led change leads to Bronze, Silver and Green awards.
In 2017-2018 the main project undertaken by this group was an Affinity Water competition to campaign against wasted water. Students produced pledge cards, which over 400 students signed, promising to reduce water wastage in different ways, providing a 4 minute shower timer to participants, they made videos, posters and they spoke to the students who came to their stand about their belief that we should save water. The group surveyed the student and staff population before and after their campaign, and were able to measure their success. This lead them to win the Affinity Water competition and go on to present their project at the Big Bang Eastern Festival in July 2018. This in turn qualified them for the Big Bang Finals in March 2019.
Whilst this one project was very intensive for the students involved, they learned communication, technical and data handling skills, as well as how to work as a team, some preferring to work behind the scenes, others leading the communication with the community. This team were also responsible for us gaining Bronze Eco-Schools standard.
Changes to our single-use plastic behaviours.
In 2019-2020, students focussed on a different international campaign, single use plastic. Students were involved in discussions with our Business Manager and our Canteen Staff about our own use of single use plastics at Barnwell Bistro, and changes have been made to more sustainable packaging and cutlery. Students also produced posters and videos to publicise to the School community that a small change in behaviour could lead to a massive change in the oceans. This project also caught the attention of now ex – pupil Elliott Stewart, who was a School Councillor at the time, and he told us of a bid we could apply for. We were successful in this bid and the project planned for its expenditure, is to provide a reusable water bottle to all students. The overall aim is to ban single-use plastics from Barnwell School.
In the Autumn of 2019 the EcoSchools group took delivery of 420 trees from the Woodland Trust, as part of the ‘Big Climate Fightback’ scheme. Planting trees is an extremely positive measure to reduce overall Carbon emissions, as they store Carbon long term, removing it from the atmosphere. The area of land provided by the school is in the furthest section of the school field, rarely used, so the group are improving the land-use there, allowing soil quality and stability to increase and encouraging an increase in natural biodiversity.
The group started by asking the grounds team to stop mowing the area and a boundary fence was introduced to reduce trampling. A competition was held to design an outside classroom, using the trees as hedges and shade cover, whilst creating a useable outside space for the school. Eventually the space will be bookable by staff from all subjects for students to spend a lesson outdoors. The result of the competition was that several entries from a range of students were incorporated into one design and most of those who contributed became new members of the club. The trees arrived in November, but weather conditions meant that we looked after the saplings in the school greenhouse until spring when planting started. The team worked hard and had planted a large number of the trees before lockdown, but although some planting continued, with Key Worker students becoming involved, the warm weather made it difficult to support the saplings, being so far from the school building and they were starting to be lost. The remaining trees have been planted elsewhere, and are awaiting transfer to the outside classroom.
We know that many of our students and families are really enthusiastic about promoting sustainability in their own actions. We have heard about some great ideas, some of which are listed below. There are just over 1000 students at Barnwell, with all of their associated families. Imagine how much of a difference we could make if we all made small changes!
Ecobricks: https://www.ecobricks.org/ A great idea to use plastic to create ‘bricks’ for use in multiple ways, whilst reducing plastic waste.