November 21, 2022

Eyes on COP27

One year on from COP26, the school continues to play its part in tackling the climate crisis. Since our student journalists met with the experts in Scotland, we have; set up bokashi bins for Oakview and increased the number of vegetarian options available, held a sustainability week for Year 9 and two biodiversity days for Year 10, started four co-curricular sustainability hobbies and partnered with the University of Reading on climate initiatives, as well as organise a number of competitions including the Townson Garden Design Competition and The Gillmor Award.

This year, the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference is being held in Sharm El Sheikh. From Egypt, the environmentalists interviewed by our Sixth Formers in 2021, are receiving the finished documentary, inspired by that experience. ‘It Started in Scotland: It Ends with Us’, is a call to action for all of us yet it also sheds a light on the issues around climate change, and what the Conference of Parties are doing to combat it.

In response to the documentary, Old Leightonian, Julian Hodgkin, wrote “Thank you for sharing this video of the impressive and dedicated engagement of the LP Team CLOC with the important topic of climate change. A lot of thought and care clearly went into scripting, presenting and producing a moving, informative, clear-eyed yet optimistic record of your time at COP26 and your activities since then.”

Julian continued, “I am flattered to be included among the real experts on climate change in the video. It is nice to watch myself talking and realise I didn’t make a complete fool of myself! I do think though that the culture we grow and learn in is so important in forming who we are at a deep level, beneath and underpinning our everyday lives. I learned a lot from my time at LP and I am sure your students are as well, not least through the threading of climate change and sustainability into the tapestry of school life as was described in the video.”

On the Park, our eyes have been on COP27 whilst departments and students undertake their own activities and reflections. To start the week, Alter Eco Changemakers, Jocelyn and Hannah, put their Sixth Form knowledge to the test, challenging Fryer to a friendly game of How Bad are Bananas? at breaktime. “How Bad are Banana’s? is a fun way to improve carbon literacy without people feeling like they are judged or being confronted over their life choices!” explained Sustainability Lead, Oliver Staines. Later on, as day turned to dusk, our NEWTs dug 1700L of soil improver into the ground outside Peckover, ready for the PSC to plant 420 mixed, native hedges there over the weekend.

As conversations happen at a global level, year groups have participated in the ‘Transform Our World Youth Summit’, exploring what power is and the importance of involving young people in decision making. Taking the discussion to the next level, on Thursday the whole school gathered in Main Hall for a Question Time style debate on ‘Do we as a community have a moral responsibility to act on climate change?’ The panel articulated thoughtful answers as tutor group spokespersons fed important questions.

Also, in the spotlight this fortnight has been The Gillmor Award, entries for which are now open and can take any form or media; the only criteria being that the piece must take inspiration from the natural world or sustainability. Next Spring, the accolade, to be awarded annually, will immortalise the recipients work on the Park as part of the Gillmor Art Trail.

Old Leightonian and MBE Robert Gillmor, was famed for his artworks, especially his linocuts of birds. He worked at Leighton Park as the Head of Art and Crafts and took inspiration from the Park, passionate about ecology and conservation work.

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