Green Schools Project was set up to enable young people to get involved with environmental projects. The idea is that schools should be setting a good example, educating students about how to live in a way that minimises negative impacts on the environment. In reality this is often not the case and big changes are required for schools to be doing their bit to tackle climate change.

By far the best way for this to happen is for the students themselves to drive the change, run the campaigns to reduce the school’s energy usage, increase recycling and encourage more walking and cycling to school. The students are far more likely to listen to their peers on this than nagging teachers, and the teachers, who are often more sceptical than the students, are far more receptive when the message is delivered by young people that genuinely care about these issues.

Students at Northumberland Park School clear an area for a vegetable patch

The good news is that this creates a massive double benefit. Not only do the school, the students, and the local community become more environmentally aware and responsible, but the students running the projects gain huge benefits. Research from a wide range of sources has been highlighted by the #iwill campaign which aims to get as many 10-20 year olds involved in social action as possible with a target of 60% by 2020. This includes reports stating that students participating are 27% more likely to find employment, 22% saying that they had reduced anxiety and improved wellbeing, and 90% saying that they had gained skills such as teamwork, communication and leadership. Watch this great video which explains more

The benefit of youth social action has been recognised across education, business and government with the #iwill campaign being funded by the Cabinet Office and supported by the last two Prime Ministers since its inception in 2013. Green Schools Project recently made a #iwill pledge  joi5 iwillWeek_logoning over 500 other organisations from around the UK. Significantly, Ofsted have made a pledge to recognise schools that promote social action, which will hopefully encourage more of them to focus on life beyond the academic curriculum. See all the pledges here.

The #iwill campaign is marking its 3rd Anniversary with #iwill week from 21st to 25th November, when they are asking partners from across the UK to celebrate the difference young people are making. To make a pledge, see what others are doing for #iwill week and to access resources please see here.

Watching Green Schools Project in action brings all those benefits to life in the students that form the school’s Eco-committee. From delivering assemblies, coordinating projects and managing campaigns, the skills learned have been crucial in helping students achieve university places, improve resilience and wellbeing, and become more confident members of the school community. What’s more the school becomes more environmentally-friendly into the bargain. Oh yeah, that was the idea in the first place!

The Benefits of Youth Social Action