Edwalton Primary School

Yet another award for Edwalton Primary School!

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20120709-212755.jpgIt appears that awards are coming thick and fast for Edwalton Primary school – I have blogged previously about this amazing school (I am biased as I am a Governor there) and its green credentials. Well that has now been confirmed by a national award.

The school has been awarded ‘outstanding sustainable school’ in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) awards for 2012. This is a national award and is a fantastic achievement for the school, it is due recognition for the hard work that everyone at the school has put into driving forwards the sustainability agenda, from the kids, through the staff and finally to Brian Owens the headmaster who is the inspiration and driving force behind everyone. We were nominated in 2011 but sadly didn’t win – but this year has seen the ‘right’ decision.

Brian receiving the award

Keep an eye out for this school, this is the way education should be going at primary level in the UK, other schools can (and are) learning a lot from its environment and general approach to teaching.

Fantastic news and another good reason to shout from the rooftops about Edwalton Primary West Bridgfords number one primary school!

Don’t underestimate your local school!

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20120704-185757.jpgWe are all used to the area we live in having its ‘favoured’ school – it may be due to a well-earned reputation – but could well be historical and irrelevant! In West Bridgford we have a number of excellent Primary schools, and some that are favoured more than others. I am a Governor at one which has perhaps been out of the limelight for too long and without doubt its day has come – Edwalton Primary school.

The school has for a long time been at the forefront of the green agenda – it has a farm, a wood and it’s pupils are fully involved in following a ‘green curriculum’. It also forms the centre of an ‘eco hub’ serving other schools who wish to learn from its years of experience in the Eco field! As a by-product it also produces very nice kids!

20120704-184128.jpgIt’s latest achievement however really needs shouting from the roof tops – it is one of 8 schools in the country to be chosen to meet Royal Highness The Prince of Wales at the first ever WWF Green Ambassador Summit at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire on Thursday 5 July. Over sixty young Ambassadors, including 8 from Edwalton Primary School will attend the two-day event (4-5 July) with teachers Hugh McCahon and Laura Paget and Head Teacher Brian Owens, along with WWF representatives and special guests.

On the second day, Ambassadors will take part in a series of creative workshops, including a food-growing session and art- and writing-led workshops, aimed at encouraging visions for a sustainable future. The schools will also be given a special tour of the gardens and experience the Prince of Wales’ own personal vision of a sustainable environment at Highgrove.

Brian Owens, Head teacher said:

“This is a marvellous moment in the history of our school. It’s a wonderful recognition of the many outstanding contributions from staff, children, parents and governors to make the school a better place. I am so proud of everyone who has help in whatever way to make our school such a special, unique place to be”

WWF has long recognised the importance of young people and the Green Ambassador scheme is specifically designed to empower, engage and enable young people to take a leadership role whilst developing skills in team work and communication. The ‘Champion Schools’ were specially chosen by WWF for their commitment to environmental action and willingness to help other schools get involved.

Amazing what your local school can achieve!

Education and our environmental future.

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Every so often someone produces statistics that make a very obvious statement (to me anyway) but perhaps needs broadcasting more widely.

The Co-operative have released a report this week to mark the official launch of its Green Schools Revolution education programme which will give signed-up schools access to a wide range of classroom resources and activities. Schools will also have the opportunity to visit a Co-operative wind farm to see renewable energy in action, and seven Co-operative farms to see first hand how food grows and how to cook it.

But what have they found?

The survey of 1,027 youngsters aged seven to 14 revealed that 82% of children rated learning about green issues as important, putting it ahead of science, history, IT and art, and only slightly behind English and maths.

Two-thirds want to learn more about wildlife and nature, almost as many (62%) want to learn about green issues, and almost half (47%) want to learn more about where food comes from.

Almost all the children (96%) were either very or a little bit worried about people damaging the planet, and almost as many (93%) said they recycled, while 85% turn off the tap when they brush their teeth and three-quarters (77%) turn off lights and appliances.

Six out of 10 parents say their children persuade them to be greener.

Now, as a Governor at a school that prides itself on its green credentials and teaching, I do not find this a surprise – the children at Edwalton Primary School in Nottingham love dealing with their environment (and the animals on their school farm). The work done at school on the environment in my opinion also produces much more caring children, who one would hope will continue to develop their interest in their environment and how their actions affect others as they grow up – social responsibility in other words.

So the Co-operatives approach to this is excellent, but perhaps the government and educationalists should pay attention and see that although the ‘three r’s’ are important, there is a lot more to education. The kids at school now are the future in more ways than one – their actions can help undo the damage done by their parents generation, but only if we let them see how we should treat our planet.

Food for thought.

We are through!

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Well to be more accurate Edwalton Primary Schools EnergyShare bid has got through to the next round! I blogged about this a few weeks ago and after some last-minute vote collecting we appear to have made it through to the second round.

We were in the top 100 groups out of 939 registered. At 46th we are in the top 5% for number of supporters, a really good result and worthy of a pat on the back for all of our supporters!

The next round requires a written application detailing why the school should be included in the last 10. The applications will be assessed by River Cottage, Friends of the Earth and British Gas.

As a school with a history of sustainability, a green ethos and its own farm, we should have a good chance with the judges – especially as one of them is Hugh Fernly-Whittingstall of River Cottage fame! The school has been a beacon of sustainability and environmental education under the headship of Brian Owens, and with the commitment of the staff, students and wider school community I think Edwalton stands a great chance!

Take a look and add your support if you think we deserve to go further in this competition.

Support Edwalton’s EnergyShare bid

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As a governor at such an environmentally friendly school I often get the chance to see ways in which the school is trying to become even greener. Well now through the EnergyShare scheme we are trying to add a solar array to the school and we need as much support as we can muster!

The energyshare scheme aims to brings people together in person and online to turn the energy system on its head. It gives everyone the opportunity to source, use and even generate their own 100% British renewable energy – and save money doing it.

There’s up to £500K available in the launch round of the energyshare fund. And that’s just the start. energyshare’s founding partners, River Cottage and British Gas are committed to finding more funding. As a start, British Gas are distributing a further £3m to community renewable energy projects through the energyshare fund over the next 3 years.

Energyshare wants to hear from all types of communities across Britain. A registered community group can apply for up to £100,000, and that is what Edwalton Primary School is after! To be able to apply we need to fulfill the following criteria;

  1. We must have the objective of saving or generating energy locally
  2. We are supported by their local community.
  3. It should benefit the local community and have a tangible and lasting impact.
  4. some aspect of the project is realistically achievable within one year.
  5. It will inspire even more community renewable projects

So we need the support of the local (and wider) community, log onto the website at this link and show your support – help Edwalton get even greener!

We are up for (another) award!

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I am exteremly proud to be a Governor at Edwalton Primary School, my kids left years ago but I still enjoy being involved at this very special school. Education here is about much more than lessons in the classrooms.

yes, all the woodland is part of the school.....

The school has its own farm and the children are responsible for feeding and caring for the animals – not the staff. Many of the pupils have shared garden plots and the school has a three-acre woodland, where children have outdoor lessons and learn to care for the environment.

Now the school has been nominated for a Times Education Supplement (TES) Outstanding Sustainable School award. The school’s emphasis on all things ecological has led to it being the first primary in the country to be given a specialist status for rural dimension and sustainability. This means it will assist other schools in Notts and the rest of the country. Trainee teachers from Nottingham Trent University also visit the school to learn from its eco credentials.

The farm is at the front of the school building, it includes pigs, goats and rabbits. The gardens are dotted all around. Children tend to these on a daily basis and often get help from parents after school. There is also a polytunnel and greenhouse. The woodland at the back includes four outdoor classrooms with bits of tree used as seats.

The school also has a team which does energy surveys. They check to make sure windows are closed and lights are turned off when not needed. The school last year saved 27 per cent of its energy bill compared with 2008-09.

The TES award ceremony will be in London on July 8, here’s hoping we win!

Well done Edwalton Primary!

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It’s not often that we get a ‘first’ in school terms in Nottingham. But this week Edwalton Primary School at which I am a Governor has seen a great confirmation of its years of work in promoting and following the green agenda.

School farms and following an environmental theme are very popular now at Primary and Secondary level – but Edwalton is at the forefront of this work (and has been for years) – it really is an amazing place!

In recognition of this work it has now received Rural Dimension Accreditation! This sounds grand, but more importantly this is the first Primary School to achieve this – a national first! The letter confirming the award highlights the following;

We have been most impressed with the dedication that your school has
already shown towards developing the rural dimension. In particular we note:-

• the innovative and creative ways that you are using the rural dimension in bringing learning to life.

• the excellent reputation that the school has with pupils, parents, staff and the wider community – a place that people want to come to!

• pupil engagement in a wide range of curricular activities associated with the rural dimension.

• the energy of leadership and strong team approach towards the rural dimension

• commendable work to become a lead on sustainable schools and the creation of a network to share good practice.

Rural dimension accreditation is recognition that schools provide opportunities for their pupils to increase their experience of rural and environmental topics and issues as part of their curriculum, thus broadening student experience, increasing motivation and raising levels of achievement.

This is a fantastic achievement, congratulations must go to Headmaster Brian Owens and all the staff and children!

Enviro schools

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As my term as Chair of Governors at Edwalton Primary School is about to come to an end (I will still be a Governor) it set me thinking about what the school has achieved over the years, particularly in relation to being an ‘eco’ school, (it is just re-applying for its green flag status for the third time).

The school and woods to the rear

In the UK today, more than 67 per cent of schools have now signed up to the Eco-Schools Programme, Edwalton was an early adopter.

The programme guides schools onto a sustainable journey, it helps provide a framework to embed environmentally aware principles into the very heart of modern school life. Keep Britain Tidy, which administers the programme, hopes that the remaining 33 per cent of schools will follow shortly. There are 46 countries around the world already signed up, linking more than 40,000 schools to share with one another their initiatives and successes.

The programme was set in motion after the 1994 Rio Earth Summit, but took hold four years ago, as climate change increasingly became a staple of news bulletins. Eco-Schools essentially encourage pupils to account for energy and water waste in daily life, to collect litter, and grow their own food. It rewards all efforts too, and achievements are marked by bronze, silver and green flags.

This doesn’t merely mean through solar panels and wind turbines, but also by simply observing good behaviour. The Switch Off Campaign, has proved particularly effective, largely because it is so easily implemented. Pupils now ensure that before they leave their desks and rooms all the computers are off, as are the lights.

It is good that they do – the UK Education Sector currently produces somewhere in the region of 10.8m tonnes of carbon a year, but through good behaviour alone the initiative is now helping to save more than 200,000 tonnes. The aim is that one day all schools become 100 per cent carbon neutral.  It is also hoped that, by targeting children so early on, they will take these messages forward in life. Certainly the experience at Edwalton is very positive, the children are all fully signed up to the idea of being green in all possible ways at school –  and home.

Their effect at home is not to be underestimated, a 2008 poll of 1,500 parents showed that 24 % cited their children as a key green motivator. Only 2 % said they took their cue from politicians.

Kids today have a far more global view than we ever did. When I was growing up I remember my father constantly reminding me to switch off the lights. Now it’s my children who tell me to turn off the lights. They know all about wasted energy, and how to avoid it. The environment has become a big concern for them – as it should.

This is education at its best.

School Gardens

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I blogged last week about my role as Chair of Governors at Edwalton Primary school, and more importantly about what a fantastic school it is especially with regards to its green credentials. One of its best features is the way the children embrace the concept of being green, and more importantly have regard to the effect their actions can have on the environment – take note BP.    

One of the most amazing recent ‘happenings’ at school is the growth in the demand and love for the school gardens. Subject to availability, any of the pupils can have their own patch of garden in the school grounds – not a large space, but enough to express themselves by planting and tending it.    

Some of the gardens


The recent building work at school to put in the new eco room and classroom building caused a section of the school playground to be ‘destroyed’ by the builders as they put in services etc. Considering this work was only done a few months ago the transformation that has occurred since the gardens were returned to the children is nothing short of miraculous! (apologies for the quality of the photos, they were taken on my phone). 

The poly tunnel and gardens


The addition of a poly tunnel (by way of a local authority grant) has further increased the discovery that the children can have of the world of gardening. I have been amazed at how the children and especially the boys, are keen to get involved in the gardening. Again this highlights the need for education on these subjects at this early age. The world would be a far more pleasant place in the future if all children had this type of experience early in their educational lives.

Interesting quote?

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Perhaps Tolstoy had the right idea?

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself

Leo Tolstoy

I have blogged before about my problem with NIMBY’s and how we seem to suffer from that attitude more in this country than any other in Europe. I am trying to improve my families green credentials; our car is being down sized, we don’t use it for short journeys, we are much more aware of energy usage and we recycle everything we can. The younger generation also seem to embrace this approach much more readily than those of us of an older disposition! Perhaps this should tell us something?

I believe education has a lot to do with the way forwards on this issue. I am chair of Governors at the local Primary School – Edwalton Primary – which is a beacon school for sustainability and has, I would like to think,  helped to make its pupils far more caring future members of society.

The school has a farm with sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and bees. The pupils look after the animals but are also aware of their long-term destination – the dinner plate. We have recently acquired a new  building at the school which provides an ‘eco room’ useable by the community and groups with green agendas to meet and use the schools environment for its education.

The school also acts as a guardian for Rushcliffe Borough Council of the Meadow Covert, a wooded copse next to the school which also provides an outdoor classroom for summer teaching.

The recent changes to the school grounds has caused a move to some of the children’s gardens (they all have their own small plot). Rather than cause a problem this has exploded the interest in gardens and there is now a waiting list! The school grounds also look amazing because of the gardens!

All of this  has been the culmination of many years of development at the school in relation to its sustainability and other green matters. The current Headmaster, Brian Owens has total commitment to the aims and beliefs of the school and is one of the most driven individuals I have ever met. The kids also have a huge respect for him and even more importantly are totally behind the ethics of the school – it is a very special place!  Ask any of them and they really feel they belong to the school.

The school are also winners of the DCFS Award for Sustainable Schools – East Midlands Region, and Brian Owens has been awarded The GTC Carol Adams Memorial Award for Excellence in Professional Development, Equalities and Diversity. 

Tolstoy was quite right, it is down to the individual to make the changes in society which will benefit us all, we cannot rely on our leaders and large industry to make these changes. We have started well with our kids – let’s now try and re-educate ourselves to help everyone – not just ourselves!