Thursday, 20 January 2011

Five more schools on way to becoming sustainable with Ashden's LESS CO2 programme

Staff from five schools joined three Ashden Award winners yesterday at Epsom Primary school, Surrey, for the final session of our pilot ‘LESS CO2’ programme.

For the past year LESS CO2 has drawn on the experience of Richard Dunne from Ashley Primary, Stephen Green from Ringmer College and Paula Owens from Eastchurch Primary – all previous Ashden Schools Award winners - to help a group of schools in Surrey reduce energy use and incorporate an ethos of sustainability throughout their schools. Yesterday's session was about motivation, feedback and reflection.

Over the past year the schools have made some impressive changes. Brookwood Primary School, for instance, has reduced its CO2 emissions by 50% and has just received its green flag. The use of the 'Current Cost' energy monitors that each school received at the start of this programme has undoubtedly had an impact.

Rachel Clack, a teacher from Epsom Primary School, said:

"Getting the pupils to track our energy use week on week has been very exciting, the pupils are asked to think about why there is such a difference during assemblies and it is used as a tool to think about topics within the classroom.... Now that we have a year's data we are at the point where we can compare our energy use with last year and I hope management will start seeing the savings."

Each school has set up an eco-team of pupils who patrol the school buildings regularly: are there computers or projectors left on? Who has been leaving lights on? Many of them employ praise and ‘name and shame’ tactics, highlighting in school assemblies those who have remembered to turn things off, the eco-heroes, and the 'carbon criminals', who haven't. The impact on behaviour around the school has also been noticed.

Rachel explains:

"I see teachers literally running back down a corridor to turn off a projector when they see the Eco-team on their rounds - they really are a formidable force within the school!"

As well as sharing their successes, at yesterday's session the schools also shared some of the obstacles they have encountered in embedding sustainability. A school is both a workplace and a learning space. It can be a problem engaging the interest of other staff, establishing sustainability as part of the school ethos, and ensuring it has a life beyond the hard work of one keen member of staff.

Each school left the last session with their own priorities for the future. South Farnborough Infants School, for example, is raising funds for solar panels on the roof. Knaphill Junior School is looking to get solar thermal panels for their outdoor swimming pool – the single biggest use of energy in the school. The biggest challenge for every primary school, however, is to find a way to engage the interest of the schools where their pupils go next. It's vital that the enthusiasm and knowledge that the children have gained is not lost when they move into secondary education.

The LESS CO2 pilot has proved very successful and we are delighted to have received funding from the Ernest Cook Trust to roll the programme out in the South West in 2011.

(Pic from left to right: Paula Owens, Stephen Green and Rachel Clack at Epsom Primary School)

See also:
LESS CO2 - Ashden Awards workshop for schools

No comments: