Students flying the flag for the environment
Students at Richmond School and Sixth Form College have earned a prestigious international accreditation that recognises their amazing work in making their school and college more environmentally friendly and raising eco-awareness in fellow students.
Eco-Schools is an international education programme that encourages young people to explore sustainability and climate change and take appropriate action.
The students in Years 8 to 13, who are keen members of the school’s Eco Club, collaborated with Mrs Weston and Miss Spittlehouse to conduct an environmental review, assessing how eco-friendly their school is. They reviewed everything from the school’s recycling practices, to energy usage, to how environmental themes are covered in classrooms. Building on their findings, the students and teachers planned a year of activities that would enhance their green-credentials.
The group connected their work to three Eco-Schools topics: Waste, Biodiversity and Energy. Activities included the creation of an Eco Garden, hosting a ‘free dress day’ for Just The Job, a local charity investing in Biodiversity, and beginning their campaign on reducing plastic waste. The students regularly care for their Eco Garden and have been most appreciative of donations of plants from the Newton-Le-Willows Climate Action Group and the BBC’s Green Planet TV series. They also initiate frequent litter picking groups, going around the school and college site to keep the area waste-free.
Freya Clements in Year 9 said: “I really enjoy taking part in Eco Club because I want to make the school a more sustainable place to be. I like doing things like planting new flowers and making new houses for wildlife so we can make the school more colourful.” Isla Simpson in Year 9 added: “Eco Club is great because it’s making the school a better and more sustainable place and it’s great we have the green flag to recognise this.”
Miss Spittlehouse said: “The students have shown strong leadership in planning and delivering the project for the good of the school, college and our current students, as well as demonstrating fantastic care and stewardship for generations of students to come. They have worked tremendously well to develop the ways in which our school can be a better environment for all.”
Eco-Schools England Manager, Adam Flint, said: “Earning an Eco-Schools Green Flag Award takes passion, commitment and a desire to make a difference. Pupils should be proud of their great work. They are an inspiration and it makes us feel heartened and positive about the future of our planet.”
The students have already been out in the community spreading the word about their passion for the environment and the work they are spearheading in school and college. Eight members of the Eco-Club took part in Richmondshire Climate Action’s Group’s ‘Heat, Eat and Meet’ event when they actively took part in discussions with other community groups and members of the public about how we can strive for a more environmentally and affordable future. They engaged with the public about a range of different topics including: the benefits of composting, growing our own food, ways to reduce our energy usage and how to create a more caring community.
Jenna Potter, headteacher said: “This is an outstanding achievement by the students who, with the support of Mrs Weston and Miss Spittlehouse, have worked so hard on this important and highly-acclaimed project. They have gathered a huge amount of data and information, recommended how the school and college could improve their green credentials and then have taken action to make this happen. On behalf of all the staff, students, governors and our families, a huge thank you to the students and Mrs Weston and Miss Spittlehouse. Their passion and enthusiasm to make positive changes to make our school and college more sustainable are incredible and I could not be prouder.”
Sophie Tarran, a Year 9 student, concluded: “I like going to Eco Club because I love helping the school to become more sustainable. I think it is great that our school has achieved the green flag!”
To find out more about Eco-Schools head to www.eco-schools.org.uk.