SCHOOLS across Leicester have received awards for their hard work and dedication in environmental education, health and wellbeing at a celebration event.
The third biennial Sustainable Schools Celebration saw a total of 24 awards presented to local schools, with two overall winners named for outstanding achievement.
Leicester’s Children’s Hospital School was named as the overall Environment, Health and Wellbeing School of the Year, after being nominated in six categories and winning the Mental Health Champions and Forest School Champion awards.
Stephen Deadman, Head Teacher at The Children’s Hospital School, said: "We are really proud to receive this award which recognises the contribution of every member of our staff who work tirelessly to improve the lives of young people in our school and the wider community. We are passionate in our belief that children with medical needs should have access to the same opportunities as their peers, and actively seek to remove any barriers to make this a reality.
"Congratulations also to our teachers Kerry Whiteley and Lorraine Biddle for winning Forest School Champion & Mental Health Champion."
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on travel, clean air and climate emergency, said: "The Children’s Hospital School deserves huge congratulations for this award which is deserved recognition for the incredible work it does for the children in its care, whether they attend one of its schools, are taught at home or by the bedside in hospital.
"The school’s staff make huge efforts to ensure that pupils receive the same educational opportunities as their peers, along with incredible support at what can be very challenging times for the children.
"Their commitment to sustainable schools can be seen across all their sites and is woven into the curriculum in ways that enrich children’s experience, with Forest Schools, animal care, a school garden and charity work just some of the examples. I am also proud that it is one of our many eco schools that proudly fly the Green Flag award.
"The school’s expertise in supporting children with complex mental health problems has also seen its staff provide training to other schools and professionals, helping more than 80 colleagues across the city achieve the Mental Health First Aid qualification."
The overall individual winner’s award was given to Jayson Taylor, learning mentor and Forest School Leader at Catherine Junior School, who was nominated in five categories and also took The Active Travel Individual award.
Jayson said: "Encouraging and supporting children to enjoy commuting to school in a sustainable way is a challenging, but such a rewarding part of my role. I love to hear about children's journeys, how they think it affects the planet as well as sharing my own stories about my cycling and running. It's comforts me to hear that pupils are just as passionate as I am and that despite living in deprived areas of the city, they can still enjoy the great outdoors!"
The third biennial 2023 Sustainable Schools Celebration was held at City Hall, with a welcome and keynote speech from Clare Maltby, England Director for the Midlands and East at Sustrans.
Cllr Adam Clarke added: "It is hugely encouraging to see so many of our schools continuing to work so hard to raise awareness of environmental issues and sustainability with their pupils, parents and communities and demonstrate their commitment to health and wellbeing.
“With the climate emergency focusing attention on the need to respond globally, it’s inspiring that so many of our schools continue to come up with such innovative ideas and projects to live more responsibly. I am also very proud that all city schools are supported by a dedicated team of council officers who oversee the most successful Eco-Schools programme in the country.”
The full list of awards is as follows:
- Active Travel Individual of the Year – Jayson Taylor, Catherine Junior School
- Active Travel School – Sandfield Close Primary School
- Reducing and Recycling Champion – Zainab Adams, Uplands Junior Academy
- Sports Leader – Jayal Mistry, Avanti Fields School
- Litter Champion – Addy Taylor, Whitehall Primary School
- Mental Health Champion – joint winners Lorraine Biddle, Children’s Hospital School, and Kylie Wheatstone, Kestrel Mead Primary Academy
- Healthy Eating Champion – Haylie Lowe, Kestrel Mead Primary Academy
- Cooking Champion – Jody Gemmell, City Catering and Sandfield Close Primary
- Food For Life Champion – Sue Johnstone, Merrydale Infant School
- Health and Wellbeing Champion – Alison Robinson, Rolleston Primary School
- Growing Champion – Sally Smith and Charlene Freeman, Stokes Wood Primary School
- Forest School Champion – joint winners Yaz Alidina, West Gate School, and Kerry Whiteley, Children’s Hospital School
- Energy Champion – Charlotte Jones, Evington Valley Primary School
- Biodiversity Champion – joint winners William Warley, Montrose School, and Beccy Adlard, Mellor Community Primary
- Premises officer or site manager – Liam Bland, St Mary’s Fields Primary School
- Community and Parent Champion – Leah Guiseppe, Kestrel Mead Primary Academy
- Cooperative Values Champion – Abdullah Gezmis, Gateway College
- Global Learning Champion – Sima Odedra, Sandfield Close Primary School
- Pastoral Champion – Ela Sawicka, Stokes Wood Primary School
- Senior Leader – Laura Rawson, Gateway College
- Student Champion – joint winners Safiya Patel, Madani Girls School, and Nell Lewis, Leicester High School for Girls
- Teacher Champion – Anne Scott, Overdale Junior School
- Teaching Assistant Champion – joint winners Rachel Ashmore and Adrienne Davies, St Joseph’s Catholic Voluntary Academy
Leicester schools are also leading the way when it comes to environmental education and wider support the city’s net zero carbon ambition.
In total, 65 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 award – which is accredited by Keep Britain Tidy – recognises excellence in schools across a wide range of environmental activity. For example, projects that reduce waste or promote energy efficiency 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.