Copy of DSCF8657Who benefits from turning your school into an Eco-School?

1. Students

From speaking in assemblies, organising campaigns and competitions, to writing for the school newsletter, students will gain skills such as leadership, communication, problem solving and teamwork by taking part in an Eco-Committee. If sixth form students are involved this is invaluable for UCAS personal statements. Of the first group of students in the Eco-team at Kingsmead School over a third secured a place at a Russell Group university.

The benefits extend far beyond those that are in the Eco-team. Getting all students in the school involved helps to transform disinterested teenagers into responsible citizens, emptying recycling bins, preventing littering, and switching lights off when they’re not needed. Once awareness has been raised it is surprising and inspiring to see the most unexpected students encouraging others to act responsibly.

2. The School

What school would not welcome the chance to save up to £25,000 a year on energy bills? With budgets being squeezed the money saved on reducing energy consumption could be the difference between hiring an extra member of staff or not. Depending on how efficient your school is big savings can be made very simply. Adjusting the temperature settings and timings for heating can make a big difference, and a student-led campaign to switch things off is a good place to start. At Kingsmead we managed to save around £35,000 over three years. Replacing fluorescent lighting with LEDs can lead to additional savings of thousands of pounds every year.

3. Local Community

There are many opportunities to help the local community from planting trees in a local park to reducing traffic by encouraging walking to school. Students that have taken part in environmentally friendly activities at schools are likely to take these home, helping their parents to reduce energy bills and encouraging them to recycle. These are initiatives that will help the school’s profile and although I’m sure you would never do this for the fame, students always love the opportunity to get into the local newspaper!

4. You

Taking on the role of Eco-Coordinator at your school may not sound the most glamorous, but it can give you important skills for your career development. Working with the entire school community from the Headteacher and SLT to the caretakers, governors, parents and importantly students is a great opportunity. The challenge of motivating and inspiring change in the school is a chance to demonstrate an ability to innovate and find creative solutions. If this isn’t a defined role in your school, creating it and persuading your Headteacher to implement it shows initiative that could help to secure your next promotion.

So whether you’re doing it from a passion for environmental issues, a desire to help the students to build their skills, or for a step up on the career ladder, everyone benefits!

If you’re convinced, but are thinking that this all sounds like a lot of work on top of an already busy job, then there is help for you. Green Schools Project will provide all the support that you need to help you set up and run a fun and engaging student-led environmental programme.

Eco-Schools… Why bother?