To reduce climate change we need both adults and children to become greener and to think more about the environment. The question is how do we engage children and pull them away from the TV and Play station and promote a sense of citizenship and environmental responsibility in them?
Companies often have environmental policies where they recycle waster paper, ink cartridges and have energy saving stickers at the switches to remind people to switch off the lights. Companies are also increasingly becoming Fair-trade Workplaces by making a commitment to only buy Fair-trade tea, coffee and sugar. But this is for adults, what about the children?
Well, the Eco-Schools Programme enables schools to become a more stimulating place in which to learn about Eco issues and the schools themselves will be able to reduce their environmental impact within the school itself and the wider community including their own homes.
Once registered the school will be part of an international group of schools working towards education for sustainable development and a better quality of life for local and global communities. This global development perspective will enable them to better understand poverty and appreciate the work that Live Aid and international charities such as Oxfam and the Red Cross are doing.
The Eco-Schools programme provides a simple framework to enable schools to analyze its operations and become more sustainable. A bit like business re-engineering in companies but in manageable bite size chunks.
Pupil involvement is a key part of the Eco-Schools programme. Having pupils engaged in the whole process, including monitoring, action planning and decision-making, leads to genuine ownership of the programme and an increase in their sense of responsibility for the school environment and local area.
There is also an award scheme that will raise the profile of the school in the wider community and provide an incentive to participate. Schools can also be featured in local and regional media when they reach award level.
There are three award levels:
• Bronze award – self-assessed via website leading to a certificate
• Silver award – self-assessed via website leading to a certificate
• Green Flag – externally assessed leading to a certificate and flag
Eco-Schools is run internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). It is administered by ENCAMS in England and Tidy Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland. Eco-Schools are supported by a wide variety of partners.
If the school also wants to learn about organic issues then the Soil Association is encouraging the use of organic and local produce in school meals by running a Food for Life workshop at interested schools. It is a one day workshop for key stage two pupils. It is run by the Soil Associations education department. The workshop provides children with an opportunity to consider healthy eating, local and organic food through the theme of choices.
Schools also need information on good practice when sourcing healthy food for school meals. Schools can further improve children’s diets and increase their understanding of food by means of farm visits, and classroom activities. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all schools could have gardens so that kids can see that food doesn’t come just from packets or appear miraculously in shops?