Priory Post 63 – Eco-Schools Announcement

Posted: 24th August 2015

Eco-Schools Announcement

Silver Award for St Augustine’s Priory

Late last week Ms Dolan announced the great news that St Augustine’s Priory has been awarded an Eco-Schools Silver Award!  Here, she gives an account of the two years’ hard work and great ideas that have gone in to achieving this award:

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‘In 2013, under the guidance of Clare O’ Gorman and continuing in 2014 under the guidance of Sophie Soerland and Mackenzie Parry-Bull an eco-code and an action plan were created at St Augustine’s Priory. The Eco-Committee decided to focus on the nine topics of Eco-Schools. The aim was to improve the school’s use of energy and water, increase our recycling capacity to reduce litter and waste, highlight healthy living and promote sustainable travel, make more use of our school grounds and increase biodiversity and continue our strong work in Global Citizenship.

And now, after two years of consistent work and effort by the whole school, the Eco-Committee has met all the criteria for Silver Award status.

Mr Routledge of Zebra Carbon carried out an energy audit for the school, finding that, although quite proficient in our use of energy, there were measures we could take to reduce our energy loss. This resulted in the introduction of energy efficient light bulbs and the replacement of windows in the main building and an increased awareness of energy saving methods, highlighted in ‘Switch-off Fortnight’ which now runs every Michaelmas Term. Mr Routledge also met with the estate staff and bursar to discuss possible renewable energies available to the school. This has since been discussed by the current Eco Committee and Governor, Mrs Baker, and will be relayed to the architect.

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The grounds’ staff already use water harvesters throughout the grounds and our water use is minimal due to water efficient taps and toilets. All future renovations of toilets will be water efficient. We also celebrated World Water Day in April 2014 to raise awareness of water waste.

In 2013-2014 the estate staff worked closely with Ealing Council and me to improve our recycling facilities. We are now able to recycle paper, cardboard, glass and plastic. Junior students designed a recycled bottle bin for all the main classrooms in the school in which students can place bottles. We also have a RAGBAG textile recycling bin in the Prep Playground which allows us to generate money from our waste and this year was used to buy paper recycling bins which are located in every classroom in the school. Junior students completed a litter survey of the school to find out where the problem areas were. We found that paper was the most common form of litter but hope this will now be resolved with the readily available recycling facilities.

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Healthy living and sustainable travel have always been strong areas of the school and areas which helped us secure our first Eco Award – a Bronze Award. Healthy living is core to all we do and say at St Augustine’s and we have a healthy living week every year. The Parents’ Committee has also helped this area by generously installing the Pirate Ship and outdoor gym. The walking bus was so successful that students who partook in the Junior School now continue to walk to school on their own. After completing a travel survey we found that cycling was our main area of weakness, so a bicycle club was run for junior students and balance bike training was provided by TFL for the Nursery and Prep students.

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Other activities included a smoothie making cycle challenge for Lower I and Upper I in June 2013; a Walk to Win competition where two students won £200 vouchers for a local bike store.  Sixth Form students attend the yearly Safe Drive, Stay Alive talk run by Ealing Council and we have a yearly Road Safety Week – which this year is running this week.

All of the above resulted in St Augustine’s Priory being awarded the STARS Silver Level Accreditation by TFL. This now entitles us to the free installation of a bike and scooter shed on the school grounds. This is an on-going project which Mr Mortimer is overseeing and we are hoping to hear from Ealing Council soon.

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We have amazing school grounds and over the years we have seen the meadow being developed and forest schools established. The Parents’ Committee and estates staff do an amazing job and in 2014 we were Highly Commended by Ealing in Bloom. When the apples next return to our Orchard, the EYFS students will be picking apples to make apple juice. A successful nature club was run last year last year and we are still the proud owners of some very happy hens! In addition, Sophie and Mackenzie organised Dress as an Animal Day for the seniors to raise awareness of World Animal Day. The money they raised has gone towards sponsoring a Snow Leopard and a Giant Panda. This spring Miss Varrow and Miss Keep plan to develop the pond and use it in their teaching of Biology and Geography.

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Finally, Global Citizenship is at the forefront of the school. We are very active in fundraising and supporting people around the world. Charities Week is always our main event but, as a school body, we are constantly aware of difficulties throughout the world through our Assemblies and Masses. We support both local and global fundraisers and staff, parents and students are involved in this.

All of the above is just a small taste of all the work we have been doing throughout St Augustine’s. Staff, parents and students have all supported the work of our Eco-Committee and we are now aiming even higher to achieve a Green Flag for St Augustine’s Priory.’

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