Pocklington School

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Innovative student-led Eco Committee attains Bronze Award

Girl and boy holding Eco -Schools bronze award certificate at Pocklington School

Pocklington School’s Eco Committee are delighted to have received the Eco-Schools Bronze Award for their work to help make the school and town more sustainable.

Art teachers Nikki Robertson and Olivia Morris, who are also the appointed Environmental Champions for the school, launched the school Eco Committee in September 2019. The student-led group initially formed with First and Second Year students but has now attracted growing numbers from Middle School and Sixth Form.

The Eco Committee follows the Eco-Schools programme, which provides a Seven-Step Framework to help young people engage with environmental issues that are important to them and their local community.  As they progress through the seven-step process, their work is accredited at various points with a Bronze, Silver and Gold Award, with the ultimate aim of receiving the Eco-Schools Green Flag and badge.

Over the last two years, the Committee has been working hard. They started by completing an environmental review of Pocklington School and the local area to consider what is done well and what could be improved and to provide inspiration for future campaigns. From this, the group devised an action plan focussing on three main areas: Litter, Biodiversity and Marine Life.  Their aims were to form a litter picking team, to ensure correct use of recycling bins, to create wildlife friendly areas around school and to reduce the reliance on single-use plastic. They have ambitions to do a whole school beach clean in the future too.

In December 2019, just four months after inception, the Eco Committee launched the first termly issue of GoGreen, a student-produced magazine covering current environmental issues which provides students with a platform to have their say. The magazine is only available digitally via its website https://www.gogreenmag.co.uk/, with no hard copies printed.

The Eco Committee has been able to implement many new initiatives. They have worked with Woodland Trust and Greener Pocklington, planting trees on a nearby school site to encourage wildlife as well as introducing more bird, owl and hedgehog boxes across the school, which were kindly donated by a current parent after a Sixth Form assembly on nature recovery.

Pre-Prep pupils receive their Go Green Award for Excellence from Pocklington School Eco Champions

The senior students were eager to raise awareness of eco issues across the school foundation and encourage more students to get involved with the Eco Committee, so they created an in-school certificate. Kai Swanborough, Fifth Year student and Eco Committee member, designed the certificate, known as the ‘GoGreen Award for Excellence’.  The first one was awarded to children in Pre-Prep for reducing the amount of litter on the school grounds, being so caring towards wildlife and bringing awareness to others. The Environmental Champions commented: “Litter picking is something anyone can help with, even if they are not part of the Eco Committee. We have litter pickers available in the Art department for use on campus during break time and lunch.”

With staff across the foundation in full support, environmental issues have been incorporated into the curriculum. There have been inspiring, environmentally-focussed art installations, investigations into sustainability and eco issues in new products and materials in Design and a competition in Biology to study changes in fungi caused by climate change.

Despite the pandemic, the Eco Committee has continued with its work encouraging students to use mindfulness to connect to nature through the Eco-Schools ‘Mindful minutes challenge’ during lockdown.

Miss Robertson said: “This year the Eco Committee has been predominantly working together online due to the pandemic, but under usual circumstances, the Eco Committee meets twice per term to discuss future plans and the team will volunteer for tasks throughout the year."

She continued: “We are 50% of the way to achieving our full Eco-Schools Green badge.  We aim to achieve Silver level by the end of the year, but we need help to get there. We have Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Eco Committee accounts that students can use to share photos of eco activity outside of school and articles of interest, which can be used as evidence for the next stage of the award submission.  Please share with us!

Members of the Eco Committee are passionate about helping create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable school environment and they would love to see more students getting involved.

Phoebe Anderson, Fifth Year student and member of the Eco Committee, said: “Having an Eco Committee in school is so important! And having students involved gives first hand insight on how the school can become more eco friendly. I am very excited about the new improvements the school has accomplished to help the environment.

Kai agreed: “I feel every student should be given the platform to understand the impact of our everyday lives; it's great that we, as a school, provide an innovative and pro-active Eco-committee that gives everyone the opportunity to learn how to give back, and secure a greener future for themselves."