Welcome to Sustainable Schools
Sustainable Schools is new project from Sustainable St Albans aiming to be
a one-stop shop for St Albans District schools seeking help to reduce their environmental impact and teach children about the climate emergency.
Whether cutting your own school’s carbon footprint or teaching your students about climate change, we aim to provide resources here for you. Looking for something and not finding it here? Contact us to let us know.
*** We now have a special section with lessons suitable for home learning during the coronavirus school closures. Click here for our home schooling resources. ***
Reduce the ecological impact of your school
Top Tips; Useful Websites
Teach your students about climate change
How to be age and stage appropriate; Videos; Teaching Resources
Ideas for eco-friendly home education for all ages
Whether you are a teacher or a parent, here are some activities to use at home to teach children about wildlife and sustainability.
Learn about British Wildlife:
- Download and have a go at our Wildlife Quiz
- Play a game to identify bird song and find out more about each bird via this RSPB Birds A-Z explorer
- Find out more about hedgehogs with this short film clip, Hedgehog Close with Gordon Buchanan
- Learn all about worms
- Do puzzles and exploring with Woodland Trust Nature Detectives
- For older kids, find out more information on the state of British Wildlife via the RSPB State of Nature 2019 report
Get close to nature. Take a walk into the woods or the park and use some simple identification sheets to find out what trees and flowers are growing there. You can download some easy wildlife identification sheets here, example below.
If you are lucky enough to have some outdoor space – work together on these practical projects:
- Make bird feeders from apples
- Make a bird feeder from recycled plastic bottles
- Build a hedgehog house – here is how! (scroll to the bottom of the page for a simplified version using an old plastic box).
- Build a small pond
- Grow a secret garden for butterflies
- Plant pollinator-friendly plants
- More nature activities with Wildlife Watch
- Further activities to attract wildlife into the garden
Learn about climate change and how to combat it
Click here for our teaching resources on climate change – we have lots of advice for educators including short films and lesson plans. Many of these can be adapted for home learning.
- Get the kids involved with the sorting the recycling. Look at the St Albans District Recycling Guide together to find out what goes in which bin.
- Use up all the food you have – choose and make together recipes that use up your leftovers using the LoveFoodHateWaste Recipe Finder.
- Teach your kids to cook from scratch. Baking is a great way to start – this Banana Loaf Recipe for Kids uses up old bananas and has tips on baking with kids too.
- Use what you have as learning materials. You don’t need to buy everything new. Old magazines and newspapers can be used for all sorts of things from reading practice to craft projects; yoghurt pots and ice cream tubs for water play for little ones to learning about capacity and measuring for older ones; all sorts of old containers (even wellies!) are great for planting seeds in – you could even make a miniature garden in a fruit punnet or a fairy garden in a shoe box.
Growing your own food
You don’t have to have a garden to grow your own food. From a few seeds in a pot on the windowsill comes a wondrous new world of eating what you have grown yourself. The Royal Horticultural Society is a good place to start your journey.
- Herbs, like basil, and quick growing salad, like rocket, can be grown in punnets on a window sill. Once you have your own herbs give the kids some yoghurt or mayonnaise and invite them to invent their own recipes for a flavoured dip.
- Try growing carrot tops, cress seeds in old egg shells or pea shoots in old yoghurt pots on the windowsill.
- If you have a small outdoor space like a balcony or patio, you can pot up a few tubs. Try beetroot or carrots as they can be direct sown into the tub outside. Tomatoes are always good fun – start them off indoors and plane them out when the weather gets warmer.
- Use a vegetable you have grown yourself as the basis for a whole host of learning! From drawing pictures of it, writing stories about it, dividing it into fractions and cooking with it, you can make a whole day out of it – try Carrot Tales to inspire you.
- If you are lucky enough to have more space, the world is your oyster. From beans to courgettes, pumpkins to strawberries, you can grow almost anything you want.
- Don’t over-use that hose! Talk to your kids about saving water, use water carefully and consider installing a water butt.
Top Tips to reduce waste and save energy – and save money too!
- Talk about climate change with students, staff, outside suppliers, parents – make it central to decisions that you make.
- Make a sustainability policy for your school. Here is a sample sustainability policy from a local school.
- Keep school warmer in Winter – cut draughts (with curtains, draught excluders, draught excluding tape) and keep outside doors and windows closed.
- Don’t waste heating – if most students don’t need a jumper could your school be too warm? Could you turn the thermostat down by 1 degree? This could save 5-10% off your bill. Consider switching off radiators that are by permanently propped open doors eg to playground. Buy your electricity from a green provider.
- Cut your electricity usage – lights and screens are the prime culprits. Get a student team to monitor that they are switched off when not in use. Convert bulbs to low energy if you can.
- Maximise classroom daylight. Do you really need displays on the windows?
- Cut down single use plastic – start with students bringing reusable water bottles. Look at your school trips and your bought-in supplies. Get your caterer on board.
- Who is your waste contractor? Did you know that St Albans District Council will pick up dry recycling fortnightly and food waste weekly from schools for free (though not landfill waste)? They will provide all the outside bins. Contact Louise Palmer at the council on 01727 819428 or on email@example.com.
- Herts County Council freebies. Free visits to schools from Herts County Council’s waste education officer – assemblies and follow up activities for Key Stage 2 and 3 linked to the Science curriculum. Also, your school is entitled to two free composters! Visit Herts County Council web page to find out more about this.
- What is your school milk solution? If you’re getting cartons with straws for each pupil, there’s a huge amount of waste there. Cool Milk, for example, will now provide reusable beakers and milk in larger units of measure or reusable glass bottles (if available from the local contract dairy) at no extra cost. Contact your school’s own milk provider to see what changes you can make and see our recent blog article.
- Get your PTA on board. Many fundraising events have the potential to create huge amounts of waste. Here is a sample PTA sustainabiity policy from a local school.
- Celebrate your successes to reinforce the environmental message. Student displays, parent newsletters, press releases, posters – anything that keeps the momentum going helps keep the environment at the front of people’s minds.
- Work towards an award to take it even further. Try the Eco Schools award for your Green Flag or Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) Plastic Free Schools Programme.
School Electricity Carbon Footprint Calculator (Top link on this page)
Join The Pod (Activities for children on energy efficiency including ‘switch off fortnight’)
Olio for Schools – help schools pass surplus food to those in need; also teaching resources and activities
Ecosia – why not switch your school search engines to default to this one that plants trees for every search made.
Salix provide interest free loans for schools to improve their energy efficiency. through the installation of energy-efficient technologies, such as insulation, LED lights and solar power
A series of articles on the Sustainable St Albans blog page that are examples of schools in St Albans District making a difference to their environmental impact.
- One School’s Journey to Cutting Single-Use Plastic – Crabtree Infants’ School, Harpenden
- St Albans Eco – Facebook Group
- St Albans Reuse Project – Facebook Group
- Zero Waste PTA UK – Facebook Group
- Plastic Free St Albans – website, on Facebook, on Twitter
- Plastic Free Harpenden – Facebook Group
- Friends of the Earth St Albans – Twitter and Facebook Group
- Environment Matters – Radio Verulam (St Albans local radio) has its own environmental news show at 7pm Wednesdays or on podcast at the bottom of their webpage
Keen to teach your students more about climate change but don’t know where to start? You have come to the right place! The Sustainable St Albans Schools Group have explored the many on-line teaching resources available and our recommendations are below.
Be age appropriate and manage the topic of Climate Change sensitively
Ages 3-7: Focus on playing in, exploring and enhancing a love of Nature, instilling connections to it and a future desire to protect it.
Ages 8-14: Starting to understand climate change. Important not to let the children feel a heavy burden of responsibility but useful to suggest ways in which they can help if they would like to.
Ages 14+: Students have a greater capacity to understand climate change but they are still children. If they want to join in with activism, encourage positive rather than negative actions – eg planting trees or singing (not shouting).
For age 8+, try reading this useful blog article on How to Talk to Kids About Climate Change. For all ages, teaching respect, community building and resilience will help prepare them.
You could also watch an interesting video from Jo Andrews of Learning Rebellion about how to approach the eduction of our children about the climate crisis. NB It is 1.5 hours long (try watching on 1.25x speed).
Short videos (max 5 minutes) that you may find useful to educate yourself or your students. Please watch videos first and make your own decision as to their suitability for your students.
Our Future: Narrated by Morgan Freeman
Age Group: 7 +
Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Simple Explanation of Climate Change
Age Group: Secondary
The World’s Largest Lesson: The UN’s Global Goals
Age Group: 7 +
Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot: Protect/Restore/Fund Natural Climate Solutions
Age: Secondary +
Age Group: 7+
Content: printable game – guess the lowest to highest carbon footprint of the items
Age Group: Primary and Secondary School. Resources for 7 – 11 and 11 – 14
Content: 6 Lesson plans, activity sheets and PPT resources to explore the causes and human impact of climate change and consider what action can be taken in response.
Curriculum: English, Geography and Science
Age group: Primary and Secondary school resources for aged 7 – 14
Content: 3 lesson plans with activities, includes presentations in PDF form and printed hand-outs. You tube clips are also included and if you register they have more digital content, invites to events and teacher panels.
Curriculum: English, Geography, Science, Computing, Art and Citizenship
Age group: Secondary but could be simplified for Primary
Content: Facts and images, charts and graphs to visually explain.
Useful for making PowerPoints.
Curriculum: Science and Geography
Age Group: Primary
Content: Interactive website with lots of child friendly information on climate change. Sections include – big questions, weather and climate, atmosphere, water, energy and plants and animals. Activities, games and videos.
Curriculum: Science, Geography, Art and Design, Computing
Age Group: KS1, KS2, KS3
Content: Download last year’s still very relevant pack for schools; make your plans to join the 2020 campaign.
Curriculum: Art and Design; Design Technology, Science
Age Group: Secondary
Content: Free forty minute activity which includes critical look at the news about climate and gets students discussing a range of big questions about the climate emergency.
A simple carbon footprint calculator – good for individuals / families and could be used for homework.
A useful list of educational resources, including some we have already listed above plus more.
Go green in school for SustFest 2020!
The Sustainability Festival 2020 aka #SustFest2020 is a 2 week festival of sustainability events across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. Last year, over 30 schools took part with projects ranging from practical such as tree planting or restoring school ponds to pupil conferences on reducing plastic.
Schools’ Week for SustFest2020 will be 1st-5th June 2020. If you would like to take part this year (either then or at another time around the dates of the festival), please let us know by visiting the schools’ page of the SustFest website and following the registration instructions. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have about your school’s involvement in #SustFest2020.
Ideas for SustFest Schools Activities
A whole week of sustainability or a few students on one activity – it’s up to you how much you do for SustFest but we’d love to have you on board!
Hold an enrichment day/week around….
- appreciating and protecting nature
- reduce / reuse / recycle
- climate change
Debate and Discuss
- get the students to take the lead – student conferences, debates, strategy meetings and assemblies are all appropriate for older students to run
- why not get the students to bring in home-made banners and hold your own playground Climate Strike?
- get parents to come in and dig over the veg beds
- plant seeds in newspaper pots
- take a group of children to help at Incredible Edible St Albans community food growing plots.
- build bug hotels
- plant a tree
- explore vegan cookery
- learn about sustainable fish
- monitor lights and interactive whiteboards to see if they are switched off
- launch a fundraising campaign for solar panels on your roof
- mount an anti-idling campaign aimed at parents for drop-off and pick-up
- explore a local park or nature area and find nature on your doorstep
- go on a bug hunt
- make pictures out of sticks and leaves
- have a “waste free lunch” challenge and try to cut food waste for the week
- do a litter pick
- build a greenhouse out of plastic bottles
- mount a campaign to use both sides of paper in school
- read Duffy the Sea Turtle and other books in the series to learn about plastics and marine life
This training day for eco-enthusiasts from primary and secondary schools took place at the fantastic Farmschool, Annables Farm on 22nd November 2019. 53 schoolchildren from 14 local primary and secondary schools joined in, finding out how to make their schools more environmentally friendly. Children took part in hands-on workshops led by Affinity Water, Friends of the Earth, Green Gorilla Consultants, Croxley Green Baptist Church and Sustainable St Albans.
In the morning they learned about climate change, saving water and reducing waste and in the afternoon, they had a choice of food and environment, trees or creating space for wildlife. The focus was on positive action to support the environment, with practical activities including making toys from wastepaper and creating bird feeders from apples. During the lunch break all the children enjoyed a tractor ride to find out more about looking after wildlife on the farm.
Isobel Mitchell, the organiser from Sustainable St Albans said:
“It was very inspiring to see how the pupils cared about protecting the environment and I am looking forward to hearing about the sustainability projects they implement in their schools.”
The pupils shared what they have already been doing in their own schools and took away lots of ideas for projects to run during next summer’s district wide Sustainability Festival, which takes place from 23rd May to 7th June.
Teach the Future
You may like to know of a new youth-led campaign called Teach the Future, run by the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) to urgently repurpose the education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis. Key demands include a review of climate change education in the curriculum and inclusion in teacher standards.
Who we are
Sustainable St Albans has pulled together its local contacts including District representatives of various environmental groups, local school representatives (teachers, governors, PTA and heads) and professional trainers in environmental education. If you have expertise that would be of value to the group and would like to volunteer your time, please do contact us.
- Get in touch; we’d love to hear from you!
- Give us your suggestions for material you would find useful on this website
- Find out how your school can get involved in Sustainable Schools Training Day in 2019
- Get your school involved with #SustFest2020.
Please fill in this contact form and someone will come back to you: