The Government in England wants every school to be sustainable by 2020. The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) launched their Sustainable Schools Framework in 2006 when the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP set out long-term aspirations for schools to mainstream learning about sustainable development issues and introduce sustainable practices into everyday school life.
Eco-Schools is an international award programme that guides schools on their sustainable journey, providing a framework to help embed these principles into the heart of school life.
Eco-Schools is one of five environmental education programmes run internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). In addition to Eco-Schools, FEE runs Green Key, Young Reporters for the Environment, Blue Flag and Learning about Forests. There are 46 countries around the world that run the Eco-Schools programme, linking more than 40,000 schools, from the UK to France, from Morocco to South Africa. Eco-Schools is administered in England by Keep Britain Tidy; in Scotland by Keep Scotland Beautiful; in Wales by Keep Wales Tidy; and in Northern Ireland by Tidy Northern Ireland.
It is now easy for Eco-Schools across the world to get in touch and explore ways of working together on environmental issues. Visit www.eco-schools.org.uk where you will find instructions on how to register your school and carry out a search. After finding an Eco-School that matches your criteria, you can then contact the ‘match’ school by post, telephone or email!
Joining the Eco-Schools programme is free and it makes tackling sustainable issues manageable and easy for all schools, whether they are children’s centres, nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools or schools with special status.
Once registered, schools follow a simple seven-step process which helps them to address a variety of environmental themes, ranging from litter and waste to healthy living and biodiversity.
Children are the driving force behind Eco-Schools – they lead the eco-committee and help carry out an audit to assess the environmental performance of their school. Through consultation with the rest of the school and the wider community it is the pupils that decide which environmental themes they want to address and how they are going to do it. Measuring and monitoring is an integral part of the Eco-Schools programme, providing schools with all the evidence they need to really shout about their environmental success.
Schools work towards gaining one of three awards – Bronze, Silver and the prestigious Green Flag award, which symbolises excellence in the field of environmental activity. Bronze and Silver are both self accredited through this website and Green Flag is externally assessed by Keep Britain Tidy.
Nationally, there are now 11,467 schools registered with the Eco-Schools programme. An amazing 3,773 of these have achieved the bronze award, 2,372 silver awards and 855 green flags. This brings the total to 7000 schools nationally that have achieved an award.
In the East Riding of Yorkshire, there are currently 13 schools with a first Eco-Schools Green Flag, with that figure likely to increase in the near future with assessments ongoing.
For further information about Eco-Schools and how to become one please visit www.eco-schools.org.uk