Schools to be beacons of sustainability

Government has unveiled plans which will try to make schools models of sustainability that could inspire their local communities.

Based on the idea that schools are seen by adults as one of the best sources of environmental education - second only to council information leaflets - Education Secretary Alan Johnson has launched a 'framework of action' which aims to encourage the local school to become the hub of eco-friendly activity.

The plan contains the usual suspects - encouraging pupils to walk or ride to school, eat and save electricity - as well as ways of exploring sustainable development issues in the curriculum and incorporating environmental projects in their buildings and grounds.

"Schools are at the heart of their communities and many are already leading the way by encouraging sustainability in different areas of school life by looking at things like efficient use of energy and water," said Alan Johnson.

"I would like to see this replicated in all schools.

"Young people are keenly aware of, and highly motivated by, environmental issues. In many ways they are ahead of adults in their attitudes to recycling and conservation.

"Channelling this enthusiasm helps raise achievement and improve behaviour and could save money as well as addressing big issues such as climate change - it really is a win-win solution."

The plan advises schools to look at:

  • Food and drink - considering how food for school meals can be ethically sourced
  • Energy and water - reducing the demand for energy and water thorough energy and water conservation
  • Travel and traffic- encouraging and supporting more eco-friendly journeys to schools for example walking and cycling.
  • Purchasing and waste - reducing costs and support markets for ethical goods and services at the same time.
  • Buildings and grounds - good design can translate into improved staff morale, pupil behaviour and achievement as well as nature conservation.
  • Inclusion and participation - providing an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere that values everyone's participation and contribution
  • Local well-being - acting as a hub of learning and change in the local community
  • Global dimension - helping pupils to appreciate the impact of their personal values, choices and behaviours on the wider world.

    Consultation on the plan is open until September 1 and can be found on the DfES website here.

    If the plans go ahead, it could mean a boost for the environment sector as schools are encouraged to install everything from renewable energy technologies to SUDS, as well as look at their current procurement procedures.

    Sam Bond

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