The pupils and staff at St Mary’s Bentworth Church of England Primary School have been leading the way in the effort to reduce the carbon footprint of our diocese, as we aim for the Church of England’s target of being carbon net zero by 2030. (Take a look at our diocesan Creation Care webpages for stories about our progress and how your community can get involved.)
The school has a designated pupil ‘Eco Warriors’ who lead on several of the environmental projects, but ‘green themes’ run through all the year groups and the curriculum. For example, all classes have been involved in planting flower boxes to attract bees and sunflowers all around the building which also provide a lovely view from the classroom windows!
The school also has its own allotment area, including a green house, where they grow fruit and vegetables that the children can pick and eat fresh as a playtime snack, including mangetout, tomatoes and strawberries. Pumpkins, potatoes and carrots are also grown and incorporated into the school dinner menu. Last year they has also planted a wild flower meadow and they are looking forward to seeing it spring into a haven of biodiversity very soon!
Recycling is also another important part of school life: as well as the expected recycling efforts such as paper and plastic, there are recycling boxes for unusual things such as crisp packets, Pringle tubes, clothes and pens. They are currently seeking funding for creating a recycling hub for the whole village in the car park. Indeed, collaboration with the local community has been a key theme – representatives from the local Alton Climate Action & Network group has been invited to speak to the children and they have worked on projects with other schools nearby.
This would be one of my top tips for schools who want to do more in this area – look up your local environmental group and get them involved, it’s all about using the knowledge and passion that’s already out there. Similarly, find the members of staff or parents who are passionate about environmental issues and give them freedom to come up with ideas!Mrs Jo Ayres, Headteacher
This ‘freedom’ to explore also applies to the children who are encouraged to take the initiative and be courageous activists when they see something that needs changing. For example, year 6 pupils wanted to make a difference to the number of people driving to drop their children off at school and organised a protest in the school car park. Other children have felt inspired to write letters to the headteacher and even to the the local council about the need for better environmental provision. The school also have litter picking backpacks available to take home to their local area and these are regularly used by children and their families.
What incredible efforts, St Mary’s Bentworth – keep up the good work!