With temperatures, sea levels and concentrations of carbon dioxide on the rise, there’s no denying that our planet has reached crisis point – but it’s not too late to make a difference. Although it’s easy to be intimidated by staggering facts and figures, it’s important that we don’t shy away from introducing children to issues that are affecting the world around them. Instead, why not shift the focus to explaining why our relationship with the planet should be all about giving back as much as we take from it?
Initiating the conversation
Environmental education needn’t be daunting, and it’s a great way to encourage children to make a real change in their local communities – whether that’s writing to members of the parliament or taking part in a neighbourhood fundraiser. Then, these principles can be used to aid pupils’ understanding of global issues such as the devastating bushfires in Australia. In January, we were proud to raise over £800 for the WWF’S Emergency Bushfire Fund, thanks to the children’s generosity.
Learning certainly shouldn’t be limited to a child’s time at school, but it’s a great place to start opening up conversations about sustainability. In our lessons we make clear links to real world issues, but we also realise the importance of environmental education extending far beyond the walls of the classroom. Pupils have the opportunity to take part in our Eco Council, weekly Eco Club and regular assemblies to help our pupils adopt more sustainable lifestyles, as well as events such as ‘Walk to School Week’.
Making a difference
Our pupils are the biggest advocates for environmental awareness, and by providing them with the tools from a young age, we have seen a shift from teacher-led to pupils-led environmental campaigns. For example, whilst surveying Biodiversity within the school grounds and local nature reserve, the pupils embarked on a campaign to raise awareness for the declining hedgehog numbers. The pupils made posters; wrote letters to Sadiq Khan; held an awareness stall at our Summer Fete; and sent a signed petition to the council for a ‘Hedgehog Highway’ to be installed in our local nature reserve.
In another instance, the Eco Council became ambassadors for clean water systems after visiting The Welsh Harp Environmental Centre, then brought their newly acquired knowledge back to our school community. This drove a reduction in water usage and an increase in water recycling, predominantly through rainwater harvesting and the implementation of water monitors.
Documentaries such as Blue Planet II and Drowning in Plastic have made ripples which are still seen today. A couple of years ago, when pupils saw Blue Planet was featured on Newsround, it sparked discussion around how we, as a school community, could begin to make a noticeable difference. Since then, we’ve gone on to continue nurturing conscious young environmentalists, as well as receive The Green Flag Award in recognition of our efforts!