SCHOOLS in Leicester have taken part in a fortnight of activities to raise awareness of the climate emergency and actions we can all take to help tackle it.
As part of the first Climate Action Fortnight, hundreds of pupils were invited to join in with a range of activities including online talks from expert speakers, practical classroom activities, competitions and a virtual newsroom run by Leicester Documentary Media Centre.
The fortnight kicked with off the second biennial Sustainable Schools Celebration, which recognises hard work and dedication in environmental education.
A total of 27 awards were presented to local schools in the online ceremony, with three overall winners named for outstanding achievement.
The overall Environment, Health and Wellbeing School of the Year was awarded to Sandfield Close Primary School, which also took the student, healthy eating and volunteers awards.
Deputy city mayor and executive lead on environment and transportation Cllr Adam Clarke presented the award. He said: “As a school, Sandfield Close Primary has worked tirelessly to inform pupils and parents about the importance of environmental issues and how small changes can have a big impact. The school has also made huge efforts to promote healthy living and eating to the children, their families and the wider community.
“During lockdown they kept these important projects going and their ambition appears to be even greater for current school year. A huge congratulations to all involved.”
Amanda Dhillon, headteacher at Sandfield Close Primary said: “We are delighted that our school community’s commitment to environmental education has been recognised. It gave us a real boost during this challenging time and we’re very grateful.
“These initiatives are central to the life of our school. We want the local and global community our children grow up in to be kinder, healthier, more tolerant, sustainable and happy. This is more important than ever at the moment. Sandfield Close is proud to be part of a city which takes such a collaborative and proactive stance on the environment.”
The overall individual winner’s award was given to Jane Gadsby, headteacher at Stokes Wood Primary School, who also bagged the senior leader award.
Stokes Wood Primary School recently achieved its second Green Flag Eco-School award and Jane was nominated for her leadership and commitment in addressing issues around litter, energy efficiency and healthy living.
She said: “A leader is ineffective without an excellent, hardworking and committed team and the Stokes Wood School community is exactly that. I am delighted to receive this award.”
The team of the year award was given to Taylor Road Primary School’s catering team for its hard work throughout the schools’ lockdown period, providing hot meals and food parcels for vulnerable children, the children of key workers and homeless people in hostel accommodation.
The first Climate Action Fortnight has been organised by Leicester City Council’s environment education team. It is hoped that the event will be a regular feature of the schools’ calendar.
Cllr Clarke added: “It’s inspiring to see so many of our young people and schools continuing to work so hard to tackle issues around climate action and the environment despite the huge challenges that they face as a result of the pandemic.
“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. It’s incredibly encouraging to see schools embracing this with such determination and commitment.”
In total, 52 schools in the city – including primary, secondary and special schools – now have an Eco-Schools Green Flag. This is the highest number in any local authority area in England.
Extending the city’s Eco-Schools programme is one of the actions resulting from the first Leicester Climate Emergency Strategy. The new strategy sets out an ambitious vision for how the city needs to change to move towards becoming carbon-neutral and adapting to the effects of global heating by 2030, or sooner.
An accompanying action plan – which will be updated on a yearly basis – sets out an initial programme of 120 actions that will support the strategy and help achieve the ambitious carbon savings required.