Here is a list of free learning resources. Share them with your school, eco club or youth group.
Eco-schools website [external link]
Video from Eco-Schools Co-ordinator
00:00:01:23 - 00:00:29:07
Hello. I'm sorry I couldn't be there with you all today, but just to introduce myself. My name is Francis Ireland, and I am the eco coordinator for the Eco Schools program in England. And I've held this role for about five years. And I absolutely love the eco school's program. Prior to working for eco schools, I used to be a primary school teacher in Liverpool for a number of years to.
00:00:29:07 - 00:00:53:10
So I come from a really strong education background, essentially. And today I'm just going to introduce the eco schools program to you and go over the seven step framework, provide you with some idea as to what school projects schools tend to complete whilst working on the eco schools program, and then talk a little bit more about the impacts of the eco schools program.
00:00:54:08 - 00:01:27:03
So to get started, what is eco schools? So Eco schools is a really simple seven step framework that's designed to empower young people to make a difference in their school and local community. We've been going since 1994 and we currently have different operators in 74 countries around the world. So has eco schools all over our planet in England were operated by the environmental charity Keep Britain 34.
00:01:27:03 - 00:01:54:19
In other countries they have separate operators like in Malaysia. The eco school program is operated by WWC. So I mentioned but the program has been going a long time for me. There's a few reasons why it has. So first off, the program provides a really clear and simple structure for educators who want to do more but don't necessarily know where to begin.
00:01:55:19 - 00:02:18:17
So people that work in schools are generally very conscientious of learners. They wouldn't work in schools, and the vast majority of them want to tackle these sort of larger environmental issues in their classroom, in local community, but they don't necessarily know where to begin. They don't know how to sustain momentum. They don't know how to involve young people.
00:02:18:17 - 00:02:47:03
And then when they have done all that, they want a little recognition for their efforts as well. And the eco school program provides them with all of their addresses, all of those concerns. The program focuses on empowerment, empowering young people and providing them with the opportunity to positively impact our planet. Now, whilst developing the skills and confidence needed to continue engaging with environmental issues throughout the lifetime.
00:02:47:15 - 00:03:17:16
So we operate on a little two pronged approach, and by empowering children to deliver environmental actions in their school and local community. Now basically to make an a positive impact on the planet right away, but because they're in charge of leading those projects in the school and community are also developing the skills and confidence needed to continue engage and with environmental issues as they grow, to become leaders, decision makers and educators themselves.
00:03:17:16 - 00:03:43:19
So the program's all about enabling them to make a difference now and also throughout their lifetimes as they grow. And as I mentioned earlier, it's now absolute privilege to work for the eco schools program. I just think it's a fantastic program. But you don't have to take my word for it. I've got a lovely quote from a parent whose child where Tom Eco Schools program last year to share with you now.
00:03:45:03 - 00:04:13:08
So they said eco schools has told my child so many life skills that she will be able to use now and in their future. These include teamwork, leadership, organization, minute taking, letter writing, speaking presentations, persuasive writing and knowledge of the environment. My daughter has spoken with so much confidence from local radio about her reasons why we need to reduce our plastic waste.
00:04:13:23 - 00:04:36:20
She even had an amazing opportunity to go to Westminster, which was her first time in London, to speak to employees about reducing and recycling more plastic waste. So hopefully that gives you an insight into the impacts of the program on the young people that are engaged with it. So I've mentioned we provide a seven step framework for schools.
00:04:36:20 - 00:05:00:24
It's designed to take around one academic year to complete, although some schools choose to work on it over two academic years. So step one is to form an eco committee, and this is like a green version of the school council. It's the group of children that are going to be supported by an adult eco coordinator to deliver the eco schools program in their school.
00:05:02:14 - 00:05:36:23
The Eco committee complete the eco school's environmental review. This document has 100 questions in and it's designed to share best environmental practices with young people across the country. So some of the questions on there are really designed to provide inspiration for eco communities minded when they're planning their future projects. So an example question might be something along the lines of those your school have energy monitors or another example might be has your school created book hotels?
00:05:37:22 - 00:06:04:17
So children complete the review and hopefully they take yes or no. And if they take note, they think, Oh, we don't have book hotels, but perhaps that's something we can do in the future. Step three is deciding on an action plan. So to achieve an eco school green flag, schools have to work on three of the ten eco schools topics, and I'll share the technical schools topics with you shortly.
00:06:04:17 - 00:06:34:11
They'll plan actions for each topic and will deliver them throughout the year. We don't dictate what action schools take on each topic. It's entirely up to the pupils, which isn't a really important aspect of the eco schools program because it means that we're flexible, flexible enough to accommodate rural schools who perhaps only have 15 students and secondary schools in areas like London to where perhaps the 2000 students are.
00:06:34:12 - 00:07:00:13
Flexibility is really a key to the success of the program. Step four is when we ask schools to gather environmental curriculum links. So as well as working on projects, on projects that protect the planet. Now, we also want them to be educated about important environmental issues so that they have the knowledge to continue making a positive impact in the future.
00:07:01:15 - 00:07:29:06
Step five is informing and evolving of this, so making sure everyone's aware of their eco schools, we can celebrate in it and making sure as many people as possible are involved in our work to maximize the impacts of it. So common groups that are often involved in eco schools work include parents over charities, local councils and local organizations like Churches of Friends of Groups and parks.
00:07:30:12 - 00:07:57:03
Step six is monitoring and evaluation. And so we ask that young people monitor the projects in their action plan to see how well they're working on to make changes to those projects before not going to plan. And again, we're really flexible with this that step. We don't ask for specific data. Instead, it's up to young people how they want to monitor the projects in their action plan.
00:07:58:07 - 00:08:29:06
One of my favourite things I've seen is when a young eco committee decided to work on an energy topic. They appointed energy monitors throughout the school who checked the lights will switched off when not in use and all their electronic devices. And one of their goals was to find the naughtiest light switch in their school. So they put a little tally chart next to each light switch, and then once a week, the energy monitors went round school and did an audit of their school.
00:08:29:13 - 00:08:51:16
Every light that was left on when not in use was given a tally. And then at the end of the year, the eco committee were able to name and shame and all of this light switch on. For me, that's what's that six is all about making monitoring meaningful to young people, but also using it as an extra bit of engagement as well, making it fun.
00:08:51:16 - 00:09:21:02
Step seven is creating an eco code, so having completed the previous six steps, schools are then asked to create an environmental statement for their school, which reflects their eco school's work and the ethos that they've created whilst working through the seven step framework. I mentioned that in Step three Action Plan, schools have to work on three of the ten eco schools topics throughout the academic year.
00:09:22:01 - 00:09:47:14
Now we don't have climate change as a topic and that's because it's a bit too broad. Instead, we break big issues like climate change and pollution into more manageable themes, and these are all ten topics. So to go through them in alphabetical order. And lastly, while studying sorry, I'll share a few examples with you too. So first topic is biodiversity.
00:09:48:07 - 00:10:15:21
And often this sense centres on often so young people's projects centre on creating insect and animal habitats. So they might create book hotels nowadays, they might create bird feeds, as in primary schools. And we've always seen some at secondary schools using the Treaty Department skills to create bird houses of wood too, which is always really nice. We also see schools who we while there is the best school.
00:10:15:21 - 00:10:42:12
So perhaps if you've got some additional space that might be worth considering. And we also see lots of wildlife friendly plants, so plants with things like lavender to attract bees to the school grounds for energy, we quite often see the appointing of energy monitors in the school. Recently we've seen schools plant electricity free days or weeks, which are great for raising awareness of our energy use.
00:10:42:24 - 00:11:02:19
I really loved reading about an app for reading about a school's actions last year, and they planned an electricity free day. But what I really loved to buy it was because the school canteen went out to use that role and because obviously it uses electricity, they had to have a picnic on the day, so it made it a really celebratory event.
00:11:03:24 - 00:11:33:12
We also see some large infrastructure projects like investing in renewable energy sources, where solar panels for schools with more heat pumps and other things like that, and our global citizenship topic. Often this focuses on fair trade and ethical products. So schools might participate in a campaign like Fair Trade fortnight, which runs every year. We also see schools collect for foodbanks and raise money for charities.
00:11:33:12 - 00:12:04:13
And so the variety of really innovative ways we see community action to my favourite example of community action is from a couple of years ago when free schools got together in Wigan to celebrate Valentine's Day and they decided to celebrate Valentine's Day by a little bit, the local community. So on Valentine's Day they got out, their later picked, they planted bulbs in the local park and then back in school they collected for local foodbank.
00:12:05:02 - 00:12:39:06
And to be honest, I don't think I've ever seen a school engage with Valentine's Day in such a brilliant way before, even when I was teaching myself and for our healthy living topic, we see lots of schools, promotes implant plant based eating, whether it's meat, meat free Monday or something similar. A really lovely example from a secondary school last year promoting plant based tea and was the eco committee decided to place all of the vegetarian and a vegan options right at the start at the.
00:12:39:06 - 00:13:05:15
Q So what was the first thing the schoolmates saw when they were hungry and queuing up for their lunch? I really love this idea and I can't help but think that that school perhaps has some future markets and professionals amongst them. We also see plenty of schools growing their own fruit and vegetables. Can you imagine if that was on the national curriculum if we all planned to grow fruit and vegetables in school?
00:13:06:08 - 00:13:33:18
Imagine what the nation would become. We'd be a nation of growers. It would be amazing. And for healthy living, we also see lots of sensory gardens created. So to provide relaxing areas and schools using nature. The litter obviously as part of Keep Britain Tidy, we see plenty of schools organizing pics perhaps in early settings. The more commonly on the school grounds.
00:13:34:03 - 00:13:59:05
We also see lots of schools getting out there in the local community, inviting parents along and my businesses along, inviting anyone they can think of. You can help them with the litter picking, taking action and young people look litter picking as well. In my experience, they get to be outside, they get to improve their community and they get to have a little gossip with their friends as well while they're doing it.
00:13:59:13 - 00:14:29:01
What's not to like right as a corporate entity? We're also really keen on promoting the great big school clean year and what's really great about the great big school clean is it demonstrates the national impact we have when we all do a little bit together. So the Marine topic we see schools focus on reducing single use plastics. They are well aware of the problems with plastic pollution in our oceans.
00:14:30:00 - 00:15:02:16
We also see plenty of activism. So creating murals for single use plastics like bottle Tops to raise awareness about plastic pollution. Recently, I also saw a school in Devon adopt the stretch of the local beach and take responsibility for it. Organizing beach cleans there every weekend. I'm really taken pride in the local area for school grounds. We see lots of schools, plants and trees through schemes like the Woodland Trust.
00:15:02:20 - 00:15:39:18
Saplings are provided for free. Often we see schools create an allotment areas, organizing community days to get parents to help them create these areas. And we also see plenty of greenhouses and Polly cameras installed. I've seen tens of greenhouses built by old plastic bottles in the past as well, which is always lovely to see. For transport, we see lots of walk to school days or weeks for those, but for those that can't walk to school, perhaps they live in a rural area and live quite far away from the school.
00:15:40:02 - 00:16:20:22
We see Park and Stride and all the schemes implemented. In fact, a school got in touch a couple of weeks ago with me and said that unfortunately all our pupils are picked up by the school bus, but now we have a test list for our school bus. It couldn't idle outside people's houses anymore, so they were really thinking of innovative new ways to work on the transport topic, despite it being a really tricky topic for them to come and recently we've seen lots of schools applying to become school streets, so limiting the flow of traffic to our pick up and drop off times outside the school, reducing air pollution and making the area around the
00:16:20:22 - 00:16:54:24
school safer as well. For waste, we see lots of difficult to recycle Leighton's recycles, so loads of schools engage with TerraCycle in some way or other. Participating in schemes like Duracell. Big battery on to collect batteries for recycling from their school community. We see plenty of schools organized in swaps and shops. I'm always very encouraging of any projects which involve setting up a second hand clothes sale, highlighting the impacts, fast fashion.
00:16:55:08 - 00:17:18:20
And I know that's a really nice project for children to participate into. They love the aspect of merchandise in the store. They love train posters to advertise it, and they love taking a bit of responsibility on the tills and just manning the shop floor too. Last year I saw a school organize a book swap for World Book Day, and that's my favourite thing I've ever seen a school kids World Book Day.
00:17:19:04 - 00:17:50:23
When I was a teacher, I used to get quite stressed about dressing up for World Book Day. Admittedly, we also see really simple things that schools do for waste, like just raising awareness of recycling, putting the correct labelling on recycling bins to make making the right decision easy for their school schoolmates. We see other things as well. So we see schools who apologies, we see schools who deliver assemblies on recycling in the local area.
00:17:50:23 - 00:18:13:21
So they'll tell the schoolmates this is what we can recycle in all blue, green or whatever colour bin. This is what we can't. This is how you prepare an item for recycling so it avoids contamination. So just share and knowledge. So water, like the energy topic we see plenty of schools are pointing water monitors towards monitors for products.
00:18:13:21 - 00:18:58:23
The company, the site manager once a month and check the entire school for leaks. Then it will be the site manager's responsibility to fix those leaks. We see schools improving their infrastructure to save on water, so installing things like water, push taps of water, hippos in the systems. And we also see lots of ponds and many ponds created to now when schools work for each of the seven steps, they can apply for an eco school's green flag, the eco school's green flag is recognition of a school's environmental efforts, and it's a celebration of the achievements of young people engaged in the Eco schools program.
00:18:58:23 - 00:19:28:08
Our application process is entirely online and it's designed to be completed as you go. So the form also saves and you see your points progress ball increase in real time Schools can then apply for an eco school's green flag each year from May to July. So we have an application window and by having an application window allows us to celebrate the impacts of young people annually.
00:19:28:08 - 00:20:02:07
The fee for an eco school's green flag is £200 plus VAT, and as a small charity, this just ensures we can continue really. It pays for our infrastructure, it pays for our assessors, it pays for the green flag and certificate that gets sent to each school to it just keeps the program going. So to register, download resources begin an application, schools can head to eco hyphen schools that will go UK and it's entirely free to register and use the resources.
00:20:02:17 - 00:20:40:05
There's no charge until a school chooses to apply for an eco schools. Queensland and I always like to share some advice for educators too because it so helps demonstrate the ethos of the Eco Schools program. My first piece of advice is to always remember that the eco school's application and assessment process are really positive. They focus on what schools have achieved rather than critiquing why a school hasn't been able to achieve yet, which leads to most complaints.
00:20:40:21 - 00:21:13:16
The program is long term. I worked in a school and I know it's really difficult, if not impossible, to make all the changes that you would like to immediately. And the assessment process doesn't expect you to do this. We ask schools to renew the eco school's green flag each year because that's what the process is. It's about gradually embedding and expanding on your environmental actions over time until environmentalism is at the very heart of school life.
00:21:14:21 - 00:21:48:23
And my last piece of advice for schools really follows on from the previous two. And it's don't try to do everything all at once. Making actions and projects manageable means that they're really more likely to succeed. And if they succeed, they're likely to become an embedded part of school life. And that's what we hope to achieve. So I have five environmental impacts to share with you from 21, 20, 22.
00:21:48:23 - 00:22:27:01
So in 2021, 2022 schools working on the eco school program diverted more than 2 million kilos of waste from landfill. Nearly 100 farms and young people participated in a litter pick. They looked after more than 1 million meter squared of natural habitats As part of the eco school's work, schools were able to save £336,000 due to their energy topic work and schools across England planted nearly 40,000 trees as part of their eco schools activity too.
00:22:29:03 - 00:23:04:02
And I've also got some pupil impacts because the eco school's program doesn't just benefit our environment and planet, it also benefits the young people that work on it. So in the 2021, 2022 academic year, nearly 1.5 million young people attended a school college on a street that was actively working on the eco schools program and 95.7% of teachers agreed that the eco school program had helped them to expand environmental education in their setting.
00:23:05:17 - 00:23:34:11
98% of teachers agreed that the program led to increased confidence amongst the pupils working on it. 95% of teachers agreed. It helped the students become active citizens and 94% of teachers agreed that the Eco schools program helped pupils develop their leadership skills. So as I mentioned, the program doesn't just play for our planet. It will also work for pupils to.
00:23:34:11 - 00:24:04:07
I had a look at some applications in content from last year too, so three settings achieved an eco school's green flag in 2021 2022 and so far this academic year, 13 schools have an application open. Three projects that caught my attention from applications last year. One school replaced the single use plastic cutlery that only being reintroduced due to the pandemic with washable metal cutlery.
00:24:05:16 - 00:24:30:08
And it might seem quite an obvious change to make, but essentially it meant that they were able to prevent thousands of pieces of single use plastic ending up in landfill every year. So a massive impact for that school. One We decided to improve biodiversity in Darlington. They built both hotels, they topped up the bird feeders and we planted vegetables and sea ponds too.
00:24:31:14 - 00:24:55:23
And the teacher said that the nursery is definite, more biodiverse as a result of their actions. One school organized fortnightly picks for pupils, and even if they can, festival at the local community could take part. And I've never had a school from anywhere else in the country organize a litter picking festival, but it goes back to our same before.
00:24:56:13 - 00:25:24:19
They can be a really fun and communal event for young people. You know, I love the use of the word festival. It really takes that negative image of litter picking away. And as you'll be aware, the government's sustainability and climate change strategy is coming into play and by 2030 the UK government want the United Kingdom to be the world leader in sustainability and climate change education.
00:25:26:01 - 00:25:51:23
So the development of Climate leaders awards and at the moment this looks like it's going to be a credit based award that works with existing awards like arts. So by completing the eco schools program, schools will be able to get credits towards their government. Climate Leaders Award Another goal of the strategy is for every school to appoint a sustainability lead.
00:25:53:00 - 00:26:21:12
Now, I mentioned before eco coordinators since 1994 we've been asking every school working on the eco schools program to appoint an eco coordinator. So again, our program fits in really well with this arm of the of the government's climate change strategy. The strategy requests that every school has a climate action plan by 2025, you'll have you'll have had me mention step free action plan.
00:26:21:19 - 00:26:57:24
Join this talk, too. We've been challenging pupils to create an action plan each year since 1994. The strategy also aims for environmental education and learning in natural environments to be promoted. Obviously, this corresponds very well with step four of our program, which is curriculum links. And finally, the strategy says we will seek to inspire young people to choose career paths that support the transition to net zero, the restoration of biodiversity and a sustainable future.
00:26:59:05 - 00:27:29:15
How better can you support these young people to these career paths by giving them the hands on experience of working through the Eco schools program? Essentially, I think the Eco schools program fits in incredibly well to the government's sustainability and climate change strategy, and you can get a head start on it by signing up with us. So that's all from me and I've mentioned the Support of Nature program.
00:27:29:24 - 00:27:51:07
So our email address is displayed on the screen right now. And if you did want to hear further about the Eco schools program or you had any questions to ask us, please don't hesitate to get in touch because if we can support schools, it leaves them free to do the thing that's really important, which is empowering young people to protect the planet.
00:27:51:22 - 00:28:05:06
So thank you very much. And hopefully I will be hearing from some of you soon. And awarding some schools in Darlington, an eco school green flag, Santa, Thank you.
- Benji Bin colouring sheet, fact sheet and work book plus videos [external link]
- Lets go zero schools [external link]
- Climate Emergency Role Models [external link]
- Education resources for young people: Greenpeace[external link]
- School resources and activities: WWF[external link]
- Lesson plans and resources: RSPB[external link]
- Educational resources: Wildlife Watch[external link]
- School Science[external link]
- Illegal wildlife trade[external link]
- Schools pack resources: UN Climate Change Conference[external link]
- Sustainability activities KS1-KS5: Twinkl[external link]
- Climate Change Risk Assessment Young Persons Factsheet[pdf document]
- Little Miss Waste Less[external link]
- STEM resources to hire: North East STEM Hub[external link]
- Recycle Right Factsheet and Worksheet: Darlington Borough Council[external link]
- Climate Friendly Schools[external link]
- UK Schools Sustainability Network [external link]
- Transform Our World [external link]