Swiss Gardens Primary School is making the environment a key focus. Picture: Steve Robards SR2111051

Eco Schools: Shoreham school makes environment key focus and sets up eco council

Swiss Gardens Primary School in Shoreham has formed an eco council to help the whole school focus on the environment and encourage everyone to do their bit to help.

By Elaine Hammond
Monday, 8th November 2021, 9:11 am

Year-one teacher Mrs Michela McManus has led the project and ensured the whole school was involved in a full week of activities with the environment as the focus. She said: “We formed the eco council in September and we have really hit the ground running, setting up the ethos for the year. To have a whole week off timetable to focus on it has been very exciting. I wanted to start an eco council last year but we hit lockdown and it didn’t happen. Then, my class was talking about the dolphins in Venice earlier this year. Their innocence really got to me. It is hard for us adults to change but we have to. If they grow up with it from young ones, it will come naturally, they will do it.”

On Monday, the focus was biodiversity, with the children planting their own vegetables and herbs, and making their own compost bottles. Eventually, the herbs will be sold to the community, to encourage people to buy direct from the plant rather than in a plastic bag from the supermarket. Tuesday was about reduce, reuse, reycle, and the whole school worked on a collaborative art piece using bottle tops, with the message ‘Our Swiss Our Home Our Earth’. Wednesday had an energy theme, with no electricity allowed in the morning. Teachers and pupils realised they did not always need the lights on, though cups of tea were much missed. Mrs McManus said: “The next time we do it, we are going to use an energy meter to show how much electricity we have saved. We have put green stickers on some of the light switches, which means the children are allowed to turn them off if they are not needed.”

The whole school, all 422 pupils, did a litter pick on Thursday and Friday was ‘green’ day, with the children making posters to be put up around Shoreham. For the litter pick, some groups worked nearer the school and some went further, with year one tackling Buckingham Park and year six covering the beach. Mrs McManus said: “At first I couldn’t see much rubbish and I told them if we don’t find any litter, that is a good thing, but the more you looked, the more you found. It was shocking.”

Following an environmental review, the eco council agreed Mary’s Garden, the only real patch of green in the school, needed to be a focus for improvement. They set about rewilding, with support from Mrs McManus’ husband, a landscape gardener, and a donation from the Budding Foundation. An after-school eco club has been formed, where the children have made bug hotels and bird boxes. Lawrence Caughlin, head teacher, said: “It has been such an impactful week for the school and it has been good to do it at the same time as COP26. “What has been good for the children is thinking about it in their own environment and talking to teachers about saving energy, as well as the bigger issues, the environment and energy over the world. It is their future.”

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