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St Mark and All Saints School’s double Eco achievement

St Mark and All Saints school Eco Council had two huge achievements in one day.

The Godalming Primary School’s Eco Council comprises children from Years 1 to 6 who were elected by their classes for their environmental passion and motivation, and work to increase awareness across the school community about environmental issues.

On the same day, this work was recognised firstly with confirmation that they have achieved Eco School Green Flag certification and later that evening they were awarded third place in the 2023 SATRO (Science And Technology Regional Organisations) School Energy Saving Challenge.

The Eco School Green Flag award saw the children conduct a whole school Eco Assessment from which they identified three main areas to target – energy, waste and litter – and monitored progress through the year. Actions towards these areas included holding second-hand book swaps, requesting the school canteen to stop using single-use plastics and reducing electricity consumption. 

The SATRO energy saving challenge saw schools across Surrey and Hampshire compete by having their electricity usage monitored for 3 months as a baseline.

The children worked tirelessly to reduce the amount of electricity used, which was not easy as the competition went on through the hot weather and fans were being used to keep everyone cool.

Assemblies were held, posters were put up around the school reminding everyone to switch off lights and screens when not in use. The Eco Council children ensured everybody stayed vigilant. The end result was that for the duration of the challenge we saved a staggering 5.55kg of carbon per person in the school from being released into the atmosphere.

This initiative has also led to children being more mindful of electricity use at home and raising awareness in the wider community, “My daughter is definitely more aware of our energy use. For example, she always turns off lights and appliances behind herself now and she reminds her older siblings to do the same.”

On top of all this, the children found and protected the habitat of an at-risk species – stag beetles – in their Forest School area, they have created bug hotels and bird boxes, sown wildflowers and planted trees around the school grounds to increase biodiversity.

All of the children across the school have been involved in these actions with curriculum links being made from youngest up to eldest pupils, such as persuasive writing in English, exploration of habitats and classifications in Science and study of climate change in Geography.

School trips and experiences for all children have involved being outdoors and strengthening connections to the natural environment including visits to Nower Wood, Alice Holt Forest, Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Arundel Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and sewing wildflowers to commemorate the coronation of King Charles III.

“I could not be prouder of all we have achieved in the Eco Council this year,” says Alice Andrew, Lead Teacher of the Eco Council. “It has given the children invaluable experiences in project planning, holding meetings, evaluating actions and presenting to their peers whilst working on something they care deeply about.”

Alice continues, “Every day in school I have children approaching me to talk about environmental issues, things they have done in their home life and their ideas for next year. This is only the beginning of our school’s eco journey.”

The Headteacher of St Mark and All Saints, Caroline Mallet, says, “Alice has done great work in driving this work throughout the year. Many children worry about climate change but through involvement in initiatives such as Eco Council we give them back a sense of empowerment that sees a powerful ripple effect start to happen.”

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