Green School Programme
Most young people care deeply about environmental issues, and wish to make a positive change in the environment around them. The Green School Programme provides an ideal way for fostering environmental awareness in the entire school and it is an intrinsic part of the life and ethos of the school.
Litter and waste
Our school received its first green flag for reducing litter and waste in our school in May 2004. Firstly we established a Green-school committee which consisted of pupils, staff and parents. The committees first initiative was to encourage the pupils to use a lunchbox with a lid and to avoid using cling-film and aluminium foil. We also put in place a recycling bin for cardboard, wastepaper, newspaper and office paper; a recycling bin for batteries and collected old mobile phones to send to the Jack and Jill foundation. We set up a compost bin for our waste vegetable and fruit peelings and use the compost for the garden. In each classroom we have three bins: one for recycled paper, one for ordinary rubbish and a compost bin. The Green-school representatives from each class room are assigned the job of collecting the waste and putting it into the larger recycling bins and the compost bin. In those first two years we reduced our waste going to landfill by fifty per cent.
We received our second green flag in 2006 for energy. We focused on educating ourselves and others at home and in the community about energy saving. We looked at various ways in which we could be more energy efficient in school and at home, such as keeping outside doors closed to keep the heat in, not leaving electrical equipment on standby, turning off lights and reducing the thermostat by a degree or two.
In school we invited people to talk to us about energy saving and pupils studied energy saving as part of the curriculum in science. Children in each classroom are appointed energy monitors and their job is to ensure that lights are turned off, blinds and windows are closed and that all electrical equipment are powered off at the electrical sockets. We reduced our energy usage by twenty per cent.
The next flag we were awarded was for water. Again, as in previous years, the Green-school committee set out targets at the beginning of the year. We ran various events to increase the pupils, staff and parents awareness on our green theme. Events included poetry and art competitions, action days, visits from outside agencies and drama groups. We learned about water saving in class and highlighted people’s use of water in the home encouraging them to reuse water for gardening and to take showers instead of baths.
The fourth theme we worked on was travel. All children were encouraged to walk, cycle, park ‘n stride, carpool or take the bus to school. We put in place various initiatives to encourage the children. All the children who took part were given a high visibility jacket to wear to school so that they could be seen by cars on the road. We ran workshops on safe cycling skills on the road and installed a new bicycle shelter on our school grounds.
We had a w.o.t day which stands for walk on Tuesday. The green school committee would record in each class the number of children who had walked, cycled or taken the bus to school. The winning class were awarded a homework pass.
We have just received our fifth Green-flag working on the theme of Biodiversity. We have continued with all the initiatives that we had put in place when working on our previous themes, such as recycling, being energy and water efficient, encouraging walking and cycling to school and having an action day for Biodiversity. For this theme we conducted an environmental review of our school-grounds in conjunction with Gortbrack organic farm and Kerry Earth Project. We looked at the various plants and trees growing on our grounds and looked at the ways in which we could increase their diversity. We mapped our school grounds and compared our new map with an old map of the grounds . We use the compost from our compost bin to fertilise our vegetable garden during the Winter. We have planted our vegetable garden and have set out targets to increase the biodiversity in our school garden. Our school newsletter and our school website helps to keep our pupils and parents in touch with our Green school themes.