With climate change undeniably one of the defining challenges of our times, it is heartening to see two of Reading’s educational institutions, Leighton Park and the University of Reading, working together to lead the UK in Climate Change and sustainability education.
The University of Reading is up for a prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Award for Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Leadership for its Planet Partners initiative. Leighton Park School, opposite the University on the other side of Pepper Lane, has won the Green Senior School Award 2023 and is also currently a Finalist in both the national Independent Schools of the Year 2023 Award for Environmental Achievement and the Independent Schools Association Award for Excellence in Sustainability.
The University of Reading and Leighton Park School have worked together on several projects as part of the Planet Partners initiative.
Students from Year 8 through to the Lower Sixth joined the University of Reading for a Climate Change Action Planning Workshop. Leighton Park students created a sustainability game ‘How Bad are Bananas’ to engage primary school participants in sustainability issues. Pupils recorded the experience of the day to make as part of a follow up documentary.
Sustainability Co-ordinator and Head of Geography, Oliver Staines, commented: “Working in this school and environment, it is such a special privilege to witness and be involved in helping to facilitate the passionate work of so many students and members of staff committed to leaving the community in a more sustainable place than they found it.”
In March 2023, two teams of Year 7 students from Leighton Park’s NEWTs (Nature, Environment and Wildlife Team) Club joined the President of COP26, Sir Alok Sharma, for a youth Climate Summit entitled ‘There is Only One Earth’ at Green Park Business Park. The event united local schools and brought together climate experts from the University of Reading, and an energy consultant from Reduce Energy Ltd. The aim was to come up with pupil-led pledges in teams and for the delegates to collaboratively choose one pledge to commit to as schools for a year – with the ambition to meet annually going forward.
The Eco Schools student-led groups have achieved the coveted Green Flag Award, and the school has planted over 1,750 trees on the park this year, with the community also sponsoring a project to re-wild an area of the ancient Caledonian Forest in Scotland.
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