Eco Awareness

Posted on: 05/11/2021

As an accredited Eco-School, we have been watching the COP26 summit with interest this week. We are delighted that world leaders have once again come together in a high profile forum to discuss the issues that are of greatest concern in our world today, most notably climate change.

Some years ago Mr. Lewis, our Director of Studies, undertook a United Nations climate change teaching course and he is now leading an initiative to ensure that all St. Helen’s College teaching staff - and many other, non-teaching staff - undertake up to date climate change training so that this continues to be given the highest priority in the classrooms and daily life of St. Helen’s College.

This morning, our Year 6 children took part in a session from ‘The Great Big Lesson’, endorsed by the Eden Project and Cambridge Zero, and broadcast live from COP26. They celebrated nature and discussed the most pressing issues threatening our environment today. It is frightening to think of the damage being done to our world, but enormously heartening to hear our pupils - the leaders of the future - speak so passionately on the subject.

As parents will know, at St. Helen’s College we have been talking about and teaching about climate change for many years. More than that, we take daily action to reduce our own impact on the environment and to encourage our children to take responsibility for their actions and how they affect the world around them. Through our Eco Reps system, we appoint children to positions of eco-responsibility. They drive eco-awareness amongst their peers and staff throughout the school, promoting initiatives to reduce waste and electricity usage and to recycle. Over the last few years, they have monitored and reduced food waste in the school, driven litter-picking schemes and more.

Two current examples are our participation in the excellent Recycle to Read scheme and our promotion of Switch-Off Fortnight. Last half term, pupils, parents and staff throughout the school donated unwanted toys and electrical items which will be collected and recycled so that they do not become landfill. The school will then receive a donation from Collins Publishers to buy new books. We are very grateful to everyone who took part in this initiative. 

Next week pupils and staff at school, led by the Eco Team, will take part in Switch Off Fortnight. Switch Off Fortnight is a campaign that encourages everyone to become interested in saving energy and cutting their carbon footprint. Not only will we make additional energy savings at school, but we would like to encourage everyone to take the switch off challenge home, where families can take part in saving energy too. The more people involved, the greater the energy savings will be, which in turn will help our environment. The Eco Team will kick start Switch Off Fortnight during Monday's assembly and it will last from Monday 8th November until Friday 20th November. Throughout the fortnight the Eco Team will carry out several audits to see how many lights and appliances have been left on in their classrooms. The class who saves the most energy will be awarded Eco Class of the week. One small click can make a big difference!

The school also has a textile recycling bank outside our entrance at 227 Long Lane. Parents, pupils, staff and members of the local community can pop any unwanted textiles into the bank and nothing placed in there will end up as landfill. Suitable items are recycled and donated to those in need, and anything that cannot be used in this way is recycled and made into industrial cleaning cloths. In addition, we have recently signed up for the Plastic Free Schools Campaign, and will now be working to stop any single use plastics at school and to become an accredited plastic free school.

We know that many parents are as passionate about the crusade against climate change as we are. If any of you have ideas of other schemes in which the school can take part, or other ways to educate our pupils and ourselves about these big issues, please do contact us. Our Eco Team is led at school by Mrs. Mann and Mrs. Reid, and they would always be pleased to hear from you. You can contact them on the email addresses below.

One of the greatest strengths of St. Helen’s College has always been the mutually supportive, respectful partnership between home and school. Working together, we really can help to protect our environment. Please do take part in Switch Off Fortnight and create lasting energy-saving habits, and please do remain aware of your impact on the world around you at all times. Each one of us can make a real difference, both in our daily lives and in how we educate and model behaviour to our children. Who knows, some of them may attend COP36 or COP46 one day!

Mrs. Drummond