MORE than 50 schools in Leicester have been praised for their work on environmental projects.
In total, 52 schools in the city – including primary, secondary and special schools - now have an Eco-Schools Green Flag – the highest number in any local authority area in England.
The Eco-Schools Green Flag – handed out by Keep Britain Tidy – recognises excellence in schools across a wide range of environmental activity. For example, projects which reduce waste or energy in schools, help pupils learn more about living sustainably, or examine environmentally-friendly ways of travelling to school could all contribute towards a Green Flag.
Three levels of award are available. Good environmental practice is rewarded with a bronze or silver award, with only the very best schools receiving an Eco-Schools Green Flag. Schools are supported by Leicester City Council’s environmental education team to help them work through the awards scheme.
In total, 24 Eco-Schools Green Flags have been handed out in Leicester in this academic year – and impressively, 13 of these have been achieved since lockdown. St Patrick’s, St Mary’s Fields and Buswells Lodge primary schools are among the latest in the city to achieve an Eco-Schools Green Flag.
Eco-Schools England has been carrying out online assessments and all schools were able to demonstrate that they have successfully incorporated sustainability into daily school life.
Avenue Primary School was recently awarded its fourth consecutive Eco-Schools Green Flag, as the award is renewed every two years.
Sue Pears from Avenue Primary School said: “The environmental work we carry out has been embedded in many areas of our curriculum. One of our highlights was winning the national Eco-Schools Transport Award and visiting the Etihad Stadium to receive the award from Steve Backshall.
“At Avenue, our pupils’ eco committee has given many children a strong ‘pupil voice’ to speak out on environmental topics and lead many successful assemblies and campaigns across the school. Ofsted inspectors were very impressed and commented on how knowledgeably and confidently our pupils spoke about environmental issues.”
Catherine Junior School was another national Eco-Schools award winner, for outstanding work on the litter topic.
Deputy city mayor for environment and transportation, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “The coronavirus crisis is dominating all of our lives at the moment, but it’s important to remember that when it is over, we will still be facing a climate emergency. That’s why we’re committed to tackling issues such as carbon emissions, air pollution and congestion to make Leicester a sustainable city.
“It’s inspiring to see so many of our young people and schools continuing to work hard to tackle these issues throughout the lockdown. The fact that we have the most awards in the country – as well as two national award-winners – demonstrates that Leicester is leading the way in environmental education for the next generation.”
The environmental education programme has now run in the city for six years and enthusiasm from school leaders and pupils is ever increasing.
Lee Wray Davies, Eco-Schools England manager at Keep Britain Tidy, said: “We are extremely excited about the work that is being carried out across Leicester and I am very honoured to have worked personally with many schools for our international Litter Less campaign over the past three years. The quality of action being carried out by schools in Leicester is amazing and in part due to the fantastic support they are given by Leicester City Council. I have no doubt that Leicester will be the first city in the country to have all their schools flying an Eco-Schools Green Flag in the near future. Well done to all, we are very proud to have you on the programme.”
Most city schools – 109 out of 112 – have now registered for the national Eco-Schools programme. All the schools on the scheme are supported by the city council, which works with them on their energy reduction and recycling programmes, and helps them to increase biodiversity and improve air quality at their sites.
Read more about the city council’s sustainability action plan at leicester.gov.uk
Picture shows local school pupils at a ‘litter less’ event last year