Climate change is everybody’s business, which is why at NHSG we not only raise awareness and provide teaching on the topic, we incorporate it into everyday school life – from nursery right through to sixth form. For sustainability to become an automatic part of all our lives we absolutely have to see it as an inherent part of societal responsibility, rather than a ‘nice to have’. So, since 2022, we have been working hard to improve, coordinate and monitor our green activity through completion of the GDST Sustainability Educate Bronze Award.
The point of this award is about so much more than a bronze badge, however, and, as such, it has served as a catalyst for longer-term activity and impactful change within, and beyond, the school grounds. Perhaps most exciting of all, is the fact that your daughter has been playing a hugely proactive role in this.
Here are some of the things our pupils have been involved with:
- Weekly sustainability club
Our weekly club, led by the pupils themselves, ensures that pupils have a voice and provides them with a formal structure and platform from which to initiate the change that they want to see. We have always promoted a collaborative approach with our pupils and we are committed to hearing their views and ideas and working with them to make them a reality. This is an approach that runs through all of our activities, including our sustainability programmes.
This highly engaged and proactive group meet weekly to discuss the issues currently facing the planet, and the ways in which they can make a positive difference. Many of the activities and events listed in this article were originally thought up by this group of passionate and dedicated eco-warriors.
- Carbon buster challenges
As part of the Bronze award programme we were given the opportunity to select three carbon buster challenges to implement within the school. These challenges have been designed to create opportunities for ongoing behaviour change that contributes to the preservation of our planet. The three chosen by NHSG included bike servicing sessions, to ensure that pupils felt encouraged and supported to cycle to school safely, saving on fuel and emissions; a food waste campaign, requiring all girls to empty their food waste into containers to enable us all to monitor and visualise just how much is going to waste; and regular book swap events – saving on print, paper and energy whilst encouraging a love of literature and further extra-curricular learning.
- A Touch of Green Week
This is an annual week-long event that takes place every May, aiming to increase awareness and re-boot and re-energise the school community’s interest in sustainability. This year we focused on recycling through a range of creative and social events such as quizzes, and a second-hand fashion show – which inspired another planned activity that the girls themselves put forward – regular clothes swap sessions where rails will be placed in changing rooms so girls can bring their unwanted clothes and exchange them for something new from one of their peers. We also encouraged the wider school community to consider how they travel to NHSG on a daily basis and to opt for walking, cycling or public transport. The junior school also put on their own specific activities including ‘walk on the wild side’, which asked them to take one thing they often do indoors (e.g. reading) and transporting it to their garden or other outdoor space.
- Meat-free Mondays
We all know that veganism is about so much more than a love of animals, and many choose the plant-powered way of life due to its positive contribution to climate change – including a reduction in the greenhouse gases that are associated with meat production. As such, every Monday, our menu is entirely meat-free, allowing us to play our part.
- Recycling and Litter Picks
To encourage increased recycling, we have removed all bins from the classrooms and introduced ‘waste stations’ that pupils use to dispose of materials in a more effective, eco-friendly way. Many of our pupils also take part in regular litter picks, that not only help the environment directly, but also serves to encourage other members of the community to think more carefully about litter disposal after seeing the generous work of NHSG pupils. This term we have also taken delivery of our new wormery at Junior School, where thousands of worms are munching their way through our waste food and creating compost. We’ll be sharing more news of this exciting initiative once our worms have settled in!
- The Just One Tree partnership
Just One Tree is a fantastic initiative that works with schools and other organisations to plant more trees around the world. Trees absorb CO2, restore biodiversity and generally make the world a better and brighter place! It costs just £1 to plant a tree, and, at NHSG we are responsible for the planting of 603 trees, while between us all across the GDST, through our ‘wear green days’ and many other initiatives, we have already grown an entire forest (approximately 10,000 trees!).
Of course, we couldn’t do any of this without the continued support of NHSG’s parents and carers and we’d like to thank you for encouraging your daughter to take part in some of these initiatives. Should you have any further ideas or opportunities you would like to share with us, please email me email@example.com
I recommend you visit the GDST sustainability page on their website too so you can see how we are making a difference across our whole family of schools: https://www.gdst.net/about-us/sustainability/
By Mrs Emma Waton, Head of Science and Biology