Carlton VC Lower School
We registered with Eco-Schools in March 2007, with the aim of
setting up an Eco Council who would strive to educate school pupils
and the community on eco-related issues. As well as this, we wanted
all pupils to be as involved as possible in the decision-making and
We had a holistic view of how we wanted to approach the nine
areas (we were already a Healthy School), so we put together an
Action Plan. We surveyed the pupils, staff and parents on a range
of issues and encouraged parents to get involved in the planning
and building stages.
Our aim was to utilise our fabulous grounds to benefit our
school community and wildlife, while also making significant
inroads on several other fronts, such as reducing waste, car
emissions and energy usage.
Initially we wanted reducing energy usage and the reduction of
our Community Carbon footprint to be our main project. Unable to
secure funding, we shelved our ideas temporarily and brought
forward the large project which would develop our grounds and
The Eco Council put up a display for the wider community to see,
and to encourage pupils to be active in eco-issues. Local
businesses were approached for expertise and funding, and a number
of exciting initiatives were undertaken:
- We purchased our chickens and 'eglu' in November 2008 and now
enjoy organic free range eggs. Our 'Girls' are cared for by our
wonderful pupils, parents and staff!
- We have built up a fantastic relationship with the
Harrold-Odell Country Park Ranger, who is a regular visitor to the
school. He has taken assemblies, helped to supply and plant
approximately 450 trees and hedging plants, constructed a living
willow sculpture, built mini-beast motels and much more.
- The whole school took part in The Great Plant Hunt, which is
now part of the science curriculum, along with a Water Aid project
to educate pupils on the effects of water shortage around the world
and the need to conserve it.
- We have a two year rolling curriculum which ensures we
regularly cover the nine Eco-areas (eight 'Doorways to
Sustainability') over a two year period.
- We have put together a travel plan to reduce the amount of
school traffic and encourage pupils to walk or cycle to
- We record and track our energy usage on a monthly basis, and
the Eco Council monitor lights, taps and litter.
- The school recently organised a Big Tidy Up event to collect
litter and tidy up the grounds.
- The Eco Council has made some useful links with other schools.
As far as possible, the Eco Council make the decisions and involve
the whole school.
- The Staff are committed to ensuring environmental aspects of
topics are included in their planning, with certain issues being
taught as a separate topic.
- We grow our own fruit and vegetables in class gardens and have
a greenhouse and gardening club. The school is a member of the RHS
and all children grow plants from seed and look after their class
The biggest challenge is fitting environmental education into an
already over-crowded curriculum, but we see it as a vital part of
children's education and strive to include it in both assemblies
and topic work.
Putting together bids for funding is time consuming and requires
a certain level of expertise and commitment. Finance is the main
factor which holds back real energy-saving measures.
We see pupil involvement as a key factor in environmental
change. The pupils elect their own Eco Council which, in turn,
elects a chairperson and secretary. They run their own meetings
(with adult guidance), keeping the minutes themselves. There is
also an elected School Council who initiate ideas and liaise with
the Eco Council. We try to give them as many opportunities as
possible to organise events such as 'Bring and Buy' sales and to
take assemblies. They run the 'Bin of the Week' award and other
competitions to encourage all the children to get involved.
- The school is now virtually litter free.
- Last year we saved 1000Kw of electricity, which was a reduction
of one third of the previous year's energy usage.
- We used 50 reams less paper, a reduction of 30%.
- The school has saved money, which is a reward for all the hard
- The pupils enjoy more outdoor lessons, and are learning about
the natural world and how to care for it. They are also more up to
date on world events and take an interest in what is happening in
- The pupils are more active citizens, and those involved in the
Eco Council have become more confident with greater self-esteem.
Formerly shy pupils now take assemblies and enjoy doing so.
The Pod is a fun website for the pupils to use at home, as well
as in school. All children have calculated their carbon footprint
and pledged to reduce the energy they use by changing one
Espresso is a fantastic resource, as well as the BBC schools
site. Other schools' websites are also useful for environmental
education. The Woodlands Trust, Learning Through Landscapes and the
Kew Gardens / Wellcome Trust Great Plant Hunt are all very useful
The Harrold-Odell Country Park Ranger has been a fantastic
resource and friend of our school.
We have had support from the local village shop and funding from
a local business to help set up the chickens.
- Draw up a clear plan of what your end goal is. Don't try to
move forward on too many areas.
- Utilise the expertise and help that can be provided by parents
and local organisations. Once you start asking for specific help,
you will be amazed at what the parents can do.
- Keep people informed of what is going on and how your project
- Give the pupils as much of a voice as you can.
We have supported another lower school with their chicken
project, supplying information and advice. We have also linked up
with a primary school in Bedfordshire which has just set up an Eco
Council, and we hope to share ideas with them.
Our next task is to explore alternative energy options for our
school, initially to heat our swimming pool.