Interview: How We're Making Our School Greener

As greater importance is placed on the environment, more and more schools are educating children in a practical way by getting them actively involved in green initiatives.

One such school is Brunswick Primary in Sheffield which was recently announced winner of the 2009 Sheffield Telegraph Environment Awards. We caught up with them to find out more about their achievement and how they’re making their school greener.

Who are you and what is your role within the school?

My name is Mrs Jane Wilks and I am an Intervention Teaching Assistant based in Year 3, and also the Eco-school coordinator.

How did you become involved in helping to make your school greener?

I got involved as I am very keen on cutting down waste, re-using and re-cycling.

What was the inspiration behind it?

Where ever possible I do this at home and thought we should do more in school.

What kinds of things were you doing before and how has the school changed?

The only thing we did before was occasionally recycle paper. People are now becoming more aware of their responsibilities towards being green.

What kinds of green initiatives have you implemented?

Every class in school takes part in the waste paper recycling; every Thursday the boxes are collected from each area in school, 32 boxes in all, and our caretaker empties them into the recycling bin. We recycle ink cartridges and computers, we have a science garden where every child plants, tends, harvests and then uses the produce. We have light monitors for every classroom and spot checks take place throughout the day. We are also currently monitoring our water usage to try and cut this down. We also measure the air quality around several outside areas of school.

How have the children/staff/parents got involved?

We have a ‘Green Team’ who feed back to the school in assembly on the initiatives in place and we inform parents via school newsletters of the things we are doing.

Can you give examples of particularly successful projects?

The recycling is very successful as every child gets to be involved, same with the science garden because they plant a small plant, watch it grow and hopefully bear fruit, which they can then taste.

What differences have you noticed?

The children are more aware of their surroundings – where things come from and how they need tending.

What was your response when you heard you had won an award?

We were very excited, pleased and proud of our achievements.

What was the award ceremony like?

It was lovely, we had a very nice meal and the award was presented by Paul Hudson, the weatherman from Look North, and was sponsored by Martin Kemp Opticians.

Have you got plans to do more to make your school greener?

Yes, we are just beginning another round of ‘Bike IT’ which encourages children to ride to school and later this year we hope to plant a wildflower garden.

What difficulties have you experienced?

It isn’t always easy, as sometimes people lose momentum and you have to have a reminder and a new surge of energy. People sometimes need constant reminders about turning off lights they don’t need – especially when the sun starts to shine!

What would you say to any other schools thinking of doing the same?

It is a really worthwhile cause, especially when you see the enjoyment that the children get out of it. Get a team of like-minded, willing people together and thrash out some ideas. You only need to start small and build things up as you go along. Don’t expect to save the world over night.

Brunswick Community School currently holds a Silver Eco-Schools Award, the Healthy Schools status and is hoping to be awarded a Green Flag for its environmental efforts in the near future.