The word ‘eco’ means protecting the environment; we are the future custodians of Planet Earth and since 2018 have been committed to defending the world in every way that we can think of! At the start of each school year since 2018, an Eco-Committee has been appointed, comprising representatives from across the school from Year 1 upwards and including at least two pupils from each year group as well as staff volunteers. Under the co-ordination of Abbie Luck (MS&SS) and Chloe Taylor (JS), the Eco Committee has met at least once every half term and in its goal to ensure that ownership of the Eco-Schools programme is as collective as possible, it has been important to take representation from all students at every opportunity, involving them in their environmental future. Minutes of meetings and frequent Eco Assemblies have ensured that the whole school is aware of and ‘buying into’ the decision-making along the way.
Following the Eco Schools programme entails progressing through seven steps towards the Eco-Schools Green Flag Award. En route to developing its understanding of eco issues and becoming involved in environmental projects, The Hall community completed the Bronze and Silver Awards. Only once we had all seven steps in place and could demonstrate project work in three topic areas in the autumn of 2020 were we ready to apply for our first Green Flag.
First Eco Committee Meetings
The first meetings of the Committee led to a prioritising within the school on essential eco actions that could be implemented within the school immediately. The new 5 R’s at The Hall became; Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose, and Refuse
Eco School Topics
Year 7 looked at issues relating to the school’s grounds and asked what we could improve in our everyday surroundings. They also investigated our attitude and practices relating to waste, asking whether we know enough about the ‘5 Rs’ and whether we take adequate action to minimise waste?
Year 8 looked at energy, asking whether the school’s usage is sustainable. In addition, the Year 8s reviewed global citizenship within the curriculum and posed questions on whether we act local and think global enough?
Year 4 looked at issues relating to marine life, asking whether we understand enough about how our actions impact the oceans. The more general issue of litter was also raised; do we pick up after ourselves?
Year 5 looked into healthy living, questioning whether we adequately look after our physical and mental wellbeing? Water was also a focus of learning; do we just take this precious commodity for granted?
Year 6 took on the issues of biodiversity, asking whether and how we care about all living things including plants, animals and insects. Issues relating to transport were investigated as we asked ourselves whether we travel and commute in sustainable ways?
Whilst the Eco Committee analysed the results of the surveys and began prioritising topics and issues for the Action Plan, there were several boy-led events and initiatives that started, including a ‘Walk to School in Trainers’ day, the instigation of ‘Meat Free Mondays’ at school with the aim of reducing the school’s consumption of meat and dairy products in order to reduce our environmental impact on the planet.
Switch off Month ran from 9th January to 8th February, with ECO committee members on a rota to go around the school checking that lights were turned off. An initiative that was instantly popular was the reusable, personalised water bottle designed by a Cassius Yiechel then in Year 5 and produced by JustADrop. And we purchased plants for classrooms across the school.
Plants in the workplace not only absorb all the bad things in the air, reduce headaches and feelings of nausea, but they can also increase concentration levels amongst pupils and staff, boosting productivity levels.
Symptoms such as skin irritations, stuffy noses and difficulties in concentration usually occur after spending long periods of time inside sealed buildings. Computer screens, photocopiers and air conditioning units can make the air dry. Interior plants and living walls not only work as the supplier of fresh oxygen to a closed classroom or office environment, but they also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide from the air via photosynthesis.
In the Junior School, boys got planting potatoes!