Eco School Award for LP
Enthusiastic eco warriors at Leighton Park have embarked on the journey to achieve the Eco School’s Green Flag Award this term. A highly respected, internationally recognised, award for excellence in environmental action and learning, the award has provided the community with an opportunity to formally recognise the significant work that was already occurring on the Park and to focus attention on the next steps to make the School as sustainable as possible, in line with our Quaker values.
Oscar (Year 8) commented, “I wanted to do Eco-Schools because I think that something has to be done about it and if the grown-ups can’t handle it then maybe the children need to step in.”
Adapted to accommodate the year group bubbles necessary during Covid-19, the work of the Sixth Form Eco Schools group has been led by Sustainability Prefect, Hannah, and Head of Geography, Oliver Staines, whilst Jo Toovey, Biology and Psychology teacher, has inspired the Fryers. Communication between the two year group bubbles has been frequent and extensive to ensure ideas and solutions flowed freely between the Fryer Eco Club and the Eco Schools Sixth Formers. The Sustainability Committee includes students, staff, a Governor and a member of the Senior Leadership Team and they meet every Wednesday.
The Award is structured to encourage as many schools as possible to participate, however small their first steps might be. The initial stage, Bronze level, requires schools to establish an Eco Schools Committee, meeting at least once every half term, to undertake an Environmental Audit assessing the school’s current position across ten environmental factors, and to produce an Action Plan, shared with the whole community, which outlines the next steps towards a more sustainable future. The Silver level introduces curriculum links together the communication and wider community involvement into the mix and the final stage, the Green Flag Award is the ultimate goal stretching sustainability ambitions to the next level.
Having now completed his first term driving the School’s environmental approach, Oliver reflected, “It is such a privilege to be able to facilitate this group of passionate students and work with so many other like-minded colleagues, all in a school that is so committed to implementing change in this direction. I’m excited about everything that’s coming up in 2021!”
The end of term has been marked by a Fryer Eco-Schools litter pick involving 26 students and three staff, which aimed not only to collect rubbish from the local area, including the schools grounds, but also to sort it into recyclables and non-recyclables. Last week the group launched a new eBulletin item, Little Eco Actions, encouraging the whole community to make small changes to their lifestyle to make a big difference to the environment.
Next term will see the commencement of a project to create an eco area between Townson and the Drama studio for growing wild flowers in collaboration with hobby groups from Year 7 and from Year 10, the Nature Environment Wildlife Taskforce (NEWT) activities. Working with the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), Reading Borough Council and the School’s catering team, Thomas Franks Ltd, we are hoping to become a trial site for a new kind of soil based fermentation bin, a bokashi bin, which takes just six weeks to decompose organic waste into a form that can used as fertiliser around the Park. The Fryer Eco Club is investigating options for recycling as many other materials as possible that are not considered generally recyclable, through the local company, Terra Cycle, in parallel with a plan to donate old LP uniforms and textbooks to African schools. They are aiming to assess the impact of transport to and from School and on the School site in a Transport Survey which they have already begun designing.
“It is very exciting to facilitate the partnership of so many students, staff and external agencies who are passionate about sustainability and the environment. Despite current Covid-19 issues, we have shown collaboration and determination to work on projects that will not only support a better, more sustainable way of working within Leighton Park but also provide opportunities for students to work with partners from inside and outside of the school community.” reflected Jo. “Students are able to work towards outcomes that are linked directly to wider global issues, giving them a basis from which to flourish both now and in the future. What better way is there for an individual to show that they want to make a difference in the world, than to start at school? I hope that a lot of these students continue to do so both at school, and in the wider world.”