Schools show passion for the planet during SustFest22

We are so delighted that, once again, schools in St Albans, Harpenden and the villages have thrown themselves into eco activities for the district’s annual Sustainable Schools Week, part of the wider Sustainability Festival (SustFest). 


Our guest blog comes from Caroline, Katharine and Nicola, volunteers from our Sustainable St Albans Sustainable Schools Group. The group supports local district schools all year round and encourage schools to get involved in the annual SustFest Sustainable Schools Week.


Hundreds of children aged between 4 and 18 from all over the district got involved with this year’s festival.  The special Sustainable Schools Week ran from 23rd – 27th May. It gave schools a chance to focus on their eco activities and feel part of the district’s efforts to tread more lightly on the planet. In many schools, pupil eco-groups took the lead, encouraging the wider school population to make changes and learn new things.  

In addition to the schools, a number of local Scouting, Girlguiding and Woodcraft Folk groups ran events.  

The sheer breadth of themes covered was really encouraging and shows just how much our young people care about the future of their planet.

Sustainable school lunches 

Local author, Becky Alexander, spoke at Beaumont, St Peters School, Samuel Ryder Academy, and Camp Primary School about her book, ‘The Green Lunch Box’. She helped pupils to think about reducing plastic and single use products in packed lunches.  Read the piece in the Herts Ad about Becky’s visit Camp School.

Celebrating nature 

Aboyne Lodge School ran a “Goes Outdoors week”, and Crabtree Junior School in Harpenden ran a “Nature at our Door” photography competition. At Abbey Primary School, children enjoyed planting on their Discovery Trail.

Isobel, Chair of our Sustainable Schools Group, ran a workshop on ‘Amazing Trees’, which delighted 20 pupils at Wood End School in Harpenden.

Local community group, Wilder St Albans ran a special, very well attended, Wilder Schools Networking event at Roundwood Primary for teachers from the district.

Wood End School receives visit from Sustainable Schools Group
Woodland food chain activity at Wood End.
(Reproduced with permission from Sarah Maclaran, Wood End School)

Cutting Energy

St John Fisher involved the whole school in their new ‘Turn it Off’ campaign. Inside their school, they particularly highlighted energy saving tips when using white boards and lights. Pupils then put a large banner up on the street outside their school to remind drivers to turn off idling engines to cut pollution and carbon emissions.

“The breadth of themes covered was really encouraging.”


Gardening

At Aldwickbury Pre-Prep, pupils rolled up their sleeves to work on their new Eco Garden. In Reception, the boys planted sunflower seeds. Year 1 have built a fantastic bug hotel to house the Aldwickbury insect population. Year 2 have planted herbs and some vegetables in welly boots. 

Pupils at Aldwickbury School Eco Garden
Pupils at Aldwickbury School in their new Eco Garden.

Zero Waste

Zero Waste was a popular topic for schools to embrace during SustFest22. STAGS ran a Waste Week while Beaumont students took part in the Big Plastic Count, which is run by Greenpeace.  

Fleetville Junior School held a Swish – swapping books, clothes and toys. Responses from the children included “I really enjoyed it because I know I am doing something positive for the planet and giving some of these things a new life.”

Outdoor Learning

This year SustFest22 coincided with Outdoor Classroom Day so a number of local schools took the opportunity to embrace learning outdoors while being closer to nature. Maple School, for example, told us that their whole school took part. 

“Pupils and staff really enjoyed the day and we’re hoping to make it a regular termly event on the school calendar”.

Two school pupils at outdoor learning day
Pupils at Maple School enjoy Outdoor Learning.

Assemblies

The Sustainable Schools teams designed three special SustFest22 assemblies, aimed at different age groups. It was great to have so many schools download and use those assemblies in their school or design and run their own sustainable assemblies. Click here to visit our SustFest22 assemblies page.

There is No Planet B

One of the schools for younger students that embraced the week beyond all imagination was Fleetville Infant and Nursery Schools.

They said:

“As a school our topic was “There is no planet B”. We delved into our previous learning of everyday materials and how we can reduce, reuse, and recycle to make our planet a better and healthier place. This knowledge combined with our learning of plants encouraged us to think more widely about the foods we eat and what foods we can grow ourselves. 

We read the true story Hunters Icy Adventure by the children’s author Ellie Jackson of Wild Tribe Heroes. The story is centred around a Polar Bear who gets stuck on a cliff because of the ice floes melting and not being strong enough to support him.

This sparked a discussion around climate change and what we can do to make a difference. We discovered that a small impact could make a big change. We turned our classroom lights off and admired the space with the natural sunlight. Children in Years 1& 2 made posters and flyers to raise awareness around sustainability and the impact it has on our planet.”

Wow!

“We discovered that a small impact could make a big change.”

Student Conference

Finally, we can’t finish this blog without acknowledging the fabulous Student Climate and Environmental Sustainability Conference. This was held for schools in the Scholars Education Trust on 10th June at Rothamsted. Local schools in the trust include Sir John Lawes, Samuel Ryder and Harpenden Academy. 150 KS2 & KS3 pupils took part in a wide range of workshops including one run by our own Isobel, from the Sustainable Schools Group.

All three schools had enthusiastically been involved in Sustainable Schools week a few weeks before and their dedication to taking action on climate change is impressive!

What now?

Are you a member of school staff, a governor or on a PTA? To know more about the work of the Sustainable Schools Group in St Albans District including Sustainable Schools Week, please sign up to our newsletter using the form here. We send out termly information both about teaching materials and making your school more eco-friendly. We also run termly networking zoom sessions to share ideas. Past sessions have included discussions of rewilding school grounds and sustainable travel plans.

Click through to the Sustainable Schools Group webpage here.

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