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22nd June 2018

East Lancashire Church of England school nominated for TES Award

St Christopher's CE High School in Accrington has been shortlisted in the 2018 Times Education Supplement (TES) Schools Awards in the Sustainable Schools category. You will find more news about this achievement on the school's website

TES editor Ann Mroz said:

"It is wonderful to see such innovative ideas and best-practice emerging from our schools and teachers, despite the current squeeze on funding. We had a record year for entries and the standard was the best so far - all those shortlisted should be very proud: it's an extraordinary achievement. The winners will be revealed at the gala awards evening at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Friday 22 June 2018.”

What follows is the submission for the award written by the school's Director of Sustainability, Wendy Litherland.

Eco Group has over 50 children representing the 1,400 children at school. Everyone else has the chance to bring their ideas to weekly lunch and after school meetings. The keenly contested post of school Eco Captain brings responsibility for organising half termly eco meetings for each of our seven year groups.

Learning for sustainability is embedded within every subject area, even holy communions are held in the 32’ permaculture polytunnel! The school caretakers get reports on where energy is leaking from our buildings, as pupils borrow infra-red cameras in science. Sustainability means fun, health, promoting inclusion and participation from our PTA group, community and pupil voice on an international scale.

During this last year enterprising year seven pupils spent their tenner challenge money on seed potatoes and recouped a successful profit on chip day, four months later, selling 200 portions. The whole of year seven visited a small sustainable farm reaffirming the message of stewardship of the Earth. Each child plants a local acorn for our new tree nursery and learns basic growing skills in form time.

Older students had seen the problems with homelessness locally and wanted to mobilise the whole school and local community. ‘Help for homeless’ was launched and saw 21 students sleep outside in sub-zero temperatures, raising over £2,000. They created 25 emergency rucksacks from recycled clothes and pre-loved essentials, delivered to those in need; contacted local radio and newspapers; as well as making use of social media, @Eco_Group. School-grown onions, went in the pot as students contacted local produce suppliers and supermarkets to collect damaged or out of date produce to make over 500 portions of soup delivered alongside Nightsafe, Maundy Relief and the Salvation Army.  Copies of our collaborative book ‘101 ways to live cleaner and greener for free’ were also distributed. Pupils also arranged a sell-out Variety Show to boost the donations; money was split between them and the Samaritans.

This communication and collaboration with the local community does not end with one-off initiatives.  We regularly interact with local (The Prospects Foundation and CND) and regional environmental groups, including participating and addressing The MEEN (Manchester Environmental Education Network) conference. This led to an invite from MEP Julie Ward to take their message to the European Parliament in Brussels. So passionate were the children, they were interviewed by Dutch TV and managed to be the first children to arrange a meeting with a BREXIT negotiator!  From growing their own produce organically, promoting recycling and organising the local Eco Cluster for twenty schools, they demonstrated that their actions back their words; solving the energy crisis without fracking, having already run their own assemblies on the issue, to creating an entire Trashion Show to promote innovation and reduction in waste. This the finale of the Schools Sustainability Conference, which they help to facilitate.  Attended by over 40 schools from across Lancashire, this event is the highlight of the academic year, for primaries and secondary schools, who are also passionate about change. 


Ronnie Semley

22 June 2018