Eco-ambassadors from across Rushcliffe School are leading a unique programme of work designed to embed sustainable thinking across all aspects of learning and academy operations.
Projects initiated since the start of the 2018-19 academic year include Bronze and Silver accreditation as an ‘eco-school’ – with Rushcliffe now working toward the most prestigious Green Flag award; and recognition of Head of Geography and Global Learning Coordinator Laura Lacey as a qualified climate change teacher under a new UN programme.
Sustainability has been integrated to all curriculum areas as part of Rushcliffe’s goal to foster responsible global citizenship among the academy’s 1600 students and sixth-formers.
The programme has been managed by an Eco-Committee established at the start of the year, and which includes more than fifty students from across the school. Committee members, known as ‘eco-reps’ began by identifying areas of focus including waste and recycling; litter and healthy eating, and then formulated plans in each area.
This has included engagement with national programmes, including the Walkers Crisp packaging campaign – with students collecting 6,300 crisp packets for recycling – and curriculum work. For example in science, where teacher Victoria Williams designed an experiment where students washed clothes and then examined wastewater under a microscope to identify micro-plastics in the water.
Other activities have included battery collection for responsible disposal; designation of recycling points and student-led initiatives around the school with a focus on energy use and conservation. Energy audits were carried out before and after Switch Off Week and showed measurable savings in carbon use and cost following a whole-school initiative.
Caterers have been asked to consider eco-friendly packaging, in an initiative that is now being reflected across The Spencer Academies Trust.
The Eco-committee has been led by Y13 Evie Fletcher. Evie says: “Being part of the eco-committee at Rushcliffe School means getting hands-on with amazing projects designed to support our community and environment. Most of all, I enjoy the feeling of knowing you have helped reduce the global issue of climate change, it may be just a small change – like switching off a light – but if we can encourage the younger generation to share their knowledge of making small changes with their wider community, then this can have much greater impacts on our society”
The programme has been supported by Geography teacher Laura Lacey, one of the UK’s first tranche of dedicated climate change teachers trained by a new UN academy known as the UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC: Learn). Teachers studying within the academy develop their own understanding of climate change and are then expected to act as ‘ambassadors for change,’ sharing this knowledge across schools.
The first academy graduates, including Ms Lacey, will be given free access to a database of over 500 climate change lesson plans usable across the curriculum. Rushcliffe students will also have access to specialist resources, including an online ‘media room’ and will be encouraged to write and VLOG to spread the word.
Ms Lacey says: “It has been an honour to work with Evie and the eco-committee to establish Rushcliffe as a pioneering school for environmental awareness. The whole community benefits when schools promote awareness of the importance of sustainable thinking. If students are not leading community change, who will?”
Rushcliffe Principal Damian Painton said: “We are very proud of the eco-committee, Evie, Ms Lacey and all of the other colleagues and students who have joined together to make Rushcliffe a leading school for sustainability and look forward to an even more active second year.
‘At Rushcliffe School our aim to create global citizens, preparing students to be thoughtful and responsible leaders throughout their lives. Environmental awareness is just one of the ways in which members of our school community shine brightly and live out our core values.’