June 14, 2024

Sustainability Celebrations During ‘Big Green Week’

Leighton Park School is one of ten Quaker schools in the UK. Fostering values-led learning through sustainability, truth, respect, integrity, peace, equality and simplicity.  During this week’s ‘Big Green Week’ from the 8th to the 16th of June, we celebrated our recent sustainability work, creating important lessons for students in these uncertain times of climate change.

Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the most pressing issues of our times. The importance of these issues is reflected in our curriculum, interdisciplinary, cross-curricular projects such as ‘Sustainability Week’ and expansive co-curricular programme.

Sustainability Co Ordinator and Head of Geography, Oliver Staines, commented on his role: “I really enjoy being able to help students make their ideas fly, turning their ideas for positive change into reality on the ground. Helping them to nudge, influence and win over their peers, at least into allaying their fears over change (we all fear change!). I also love that the role encourages and challenges me to become observant and knowledgeable about the school site and the rich Quaker history of concern for and study of natural history and ecology”.

Student-led groups have achieved the coveted Green Flag Award, an international accreditation that recognises young people’s environmental actions. We also planted over 1,200 trees last year, with the community also sponsoring a project to rewild an area of the ancient Caledonian Forest in Scotland. Thank you to our community, who added 330 trees to the Scottish grove to help mitigate rising CO2 levels and work towards safeguarding a healthy planet for future generations.

Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK) also visited Leighton Park to lead a full day workshop in May. The workshop motivated students to take a leadership role on sustainability campaigns and initiatives, building support from across the school community to create change and achieve positive sustainability outcomes.

The organisation is renowned for their expertise and experience in fostering student agency and engagement through their training, with the key purpose of the day being to provide students with the tools, skills and confidence to effectively lead on change in their own school.  The workshop not only informed students on ways to create awareness but also allowed them to use their own initiatives to bring their climate action plan and sustainability action ideas to work in their own setting.

Saarvi, Lower Sixth student, commented on the workshop: “The event helped me gain a new perspective on how environmental issues and social justice could connect. The ideas shared in the event allowed me to come up with my own campaign with my group about a sustainable fashion workshop for younger generations every summer in a library which will have a positive impact on the local community.

We also hosted a sustainable fashion contest in April, where the four Houses crafted fully sustainable outfits for three categories: wildlife, marine life, and the globe. The outfits were created from second-hand clothing and materials, utilising tour textile facilities to sew, pin, and glue pieces together, resulting in stunning designs showcased on the catwalk in Collect.

The goal of the House project was to raise awareness among students about the environmental impact of fast fashion and to encourage buying and selling second-hand clothes to reduce textile waste.

Our commitment to sustainability has been recognised across many recent awards, including joint winners of the Green Senior School Award 2023 by Citykids magazine. According to Melanie Sanderson, competition judge and The Good Schools Guide Managing Editor, the award celebrates Leighton Park for delivering “An extremely impressive firm commitment to change-making at a high level.” We were also named a Finalist for two Independent School Awards in 2023. Our work around COP, pioneering partnership with the University of Reading, exceptional co-curricular programme and students’ leadership in this area helped our school to be a Finalist for the Award for Excellence in Sustainability in the Independent Schools Association Awards 2023, as well as the Award for Environmental Achievement in the Independent Schools of the Year 2023 Awards.

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