“In the recent development of the outdoor classroom you have involved the pupil ‘Eco Council’ in making key decisions about the design of the area. Pupils feel respected, valued and listened to as a result of this approach to include them in the life of the school.” (Ofsted 2018)
What is the Eco Council?
The Eco Council is made up of pupils from each of the seven classes who have been voted by their peers to represent their class in all matters Eco. Throughout the term the council meet several times to discuss the issues that are important to them and work towards finding solutions for these issues. The Ecos have raised matters such as the reduction in wasting resources and have started raising awareness through poster campaigns for turning off lights when not in use and using water wisely not wastefully. They have sowed several types of indigenous wild flower seeds to encourage pollinators and flora into the school grounds, and they have also spoken with the PTA about the use of single use plastics which has now resulted in the PTA buying sustainable and Eco friendly products.
The school and the Eco council also take part in national environmental campaigns, such as ‘Switch Off’ Fortnight, Walk to School Week, Clean Air day and Outdoor classroom day and support local campaigns to address traffic congestion and speed awareness issues in our village.
Our New Outdoor Classroom – The “Magic Pavilion”
We are so pleased to share the good news that our new Outdoor Classroom has been installed into the wildlife area!
The new Outdoor Classroom is a 5m Hexagonal Gazebo which includes:
• Storytelling Chair
• Giant chalkboard
• Rainwater system with water butt
This is a fantastic addition to our wildlife area that provides the children with shelter from the elements and an exciting place for lessons to take place. Situated in an elevated position with breathtaking views out over the rolling South Downs and all the way down to the sea, it’s a fabulous spot for learning amongst nature.
For this project, we worked with Pentagon Play who design and install outdoor learning environments for schools and nurseries.
You can visit their website here – www.pentagonplay.co.uk
Eco in the Community
Our Lady’s Eco Council is also very active within their local community. Having identified an area of wild unused land on the school grounds and having developed this into a wildlife hub and outside leaning area – not just for the school but the community also -, school is currently consulting with many local community groups to make sure that the area will be used to maximum potential. So far the school and Eco Council have met with Rottingdean in Bloom, the Wildlife Trust part of the Brighton & Hove environmental education project (BHee), PARC charity, the Forest School Association, the Parish Council and our wonderful local children’s author Nickola – Suzanne Labrooy.
The school and the Eco Council also think about our place in the world and are proactive in supporting a variety of global issues. Last year our pupils raised money to help Endangered Animals and have also sponsored a cheetah and an orangutan in the Amazon rain forest. We have promoted Fairtrade to both pupils and parents, and we also ran a ‘green’ assembly where we talked about the damage that is being caused to the planet by plastic pollution and what we as individuals and as a community can to do to resolve this.
Eco and the Creative Curriculum
Year 4 did the Wild Beach Project and achieved the John Muir Award
“For our final Wild Beach day, which marked the end of our John Muir Award project, Year 4 invited parents/carers to join us in the afternoon. As part of this award we had to discover, explore, conserve and share knowledge about a wild area.
In the morning, the children chose which activities they would like to share with their family. Despite the inclement, blustery weather, we attempted to erect shelters (which unfortunately could not withstand the wind!) and we were determined to fit in a last session of rock pooling. During the rock pooling, we were delighted to see a rare starfish and were fortunate enough to observe sea slugs laying eggs! We also wanted to share what we had learnt about the strand line and the clues it provides about life on the beach. In addition, some children did another litter pick to show the different types of pollution discovered on the beach.
It was a great afternoon – parents took part in litter picking, stone tapping, chalk painting, rock-pool creature observation, strand line museum information sessions, rock creature creation and had a good look through the children’s Wild beach folders. At the end of the day, children were awarded their John Muir certificates. Thank you so much Katie (Sussex Wildlife Trust) for all the knowledge you have shared with us. Thank you also to the PTA for part funding this amazing project. We had a wonderful time!”
The Eco Schools Programme
Our first Eco Award!!
The Eco Schools Programme http://www.eco-schools.org.uk
The Eco-Schools Programme is pupil-led, involving hands-on learning that gets the whole school and the wider community involved in exciting environmental projects. Recently the Council took part in an ‘environmental review’ covering the ten vital Eco topics of Biodiversity, Energy, Global Citizenship, Healthy Living, Litter, School grounds, Transport, Water, Marine , Waste and Compost. From this they devised an action plan about what they feel school does well but also what the school needs to be doing better. In only one year the school achieved its Bronze and then Silver award, and now we are working towards gaining the Eco Schools Green Flag which will make our school one of only 995 schools in the country to hold this prestigious award.
Our Lady’s also recognises the importance of our school reducing its environmental impact. We know Eco-Schools consume less water and energy and produce less waste – in turn saving money that can be allocated elsewhere in the school.
Our second Eco Award!!