Pupil power: how students are turning schools green

Apr 28, 2017 by

A scheme encouraging young people to take the lead on environmental projects is changing habits, growing leaders – and saving schools money

At the Manchester Creative and Media Academy, six year 10 students have just done an environmental audit of their school. They conducted interviews with staff and other pupils, inspected what was already being done, and examined energy policies. From this they have planned campaigns on recycling and litter – with specific targets – to make their school greener, all while studying for their GCSEs.

The academy is part of the Green Schools Project, a student-led programme that helps schools become more environmentally friendly. It provides guides, presentations and resources so that coordinators within schools can recruit students to set up successful and results-driven green projects.

Rachel Pickering, a geography teacher and coordinator of the project at the Manchester school, says the scheme has helped her students develop a professional approach to making change. “After the audit, they were able to come up with a list of priorities to focus on and presented this to the senior leadership team,” she says.

“For the girls, staying after school to present to staff was a big deal so it’s been really great. They know they’ll be able to put it on their sixth form college applications – it’s good they have taken ownership of a project. They are really determined to make it a success.”

Growing a movement

The Green Schools Project is the brainchild of Henry Greenwood, who headed the maths department at a secondary school in east London until the summer of 2015. After 12 years of teaching, he joined the legions of start-up entrepreneurs in the capital, launching his social enterprise in September of that year.

The idea began during his previous role at Kingsmead School in north London. “I was frustrated by what I saw around me; lights left on, windows open with the heating on in winter, recycling boxes not being emptied and litter everywhere. There was just a lack of awareness among the students about environmental issues. It was covered a little bit in geography and science, but they didn’t really see the practical applications of how you involve it in everyday life.”

Greenwood created a new role for himself as sustainability coordinator at Kingsmead. Using the Eco-Schools framework – which awards schools at different levels depending on how green they are – as a starting point, he recruited a group of students to start their own initiatives.

Source: Pupil power: how students are turning schools green | Teacher Network | The Guardian

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