Published: 16:07, 25 November 2021
| Updated: 13:02, 26 November 2021
Recycling, changing to energy-saving lightbulbs and stopping the use of single-use plastic straws are among the dozens of green schemes by schools across Kent and Medway recognised in this year's Green School Awards.
The sixth annual awards, organised by the KM Charity Team, looked at the efforts made by students, staff and volunteers at schools who have put the environment top of their agenda, despite a year of restrictions and disruption due to the pandemic.
At an awards ceremony at Ashford International Hotel, hosted by Mike Ward, chief executive of the KM Charity Team and kmfm's Nicola Everett, winners from primary and secondary schools across the area, along with colleges and other school team members were all praised.
Mr Ward said: "The Green School Awards are probably more important today than they have ever been. They encourage schools, children and parents to really get involved, learn and think about how they can do something to help our planet.
"But I think most importantly it is a way young people can take charge of their future. It’s also a great lesson for all of us to know that you don’t really have to do a lot as doing a little can make an enormous difference – especially if we all join in."
The awards are sponsored by: Medway Council; Kent County Council; Streetspace Group; SGS Energy; Ashford International Hotel; Golding Homes; KCS Professional Services; Seeclear Facilities UK, Blessing by Blé and NCS Technology.
OVERALL CATEGORY WINNERS
Clean Air for All: The Rowans AP Academy, Medway
The Chatham school spent a whole year focusing on the environment, from lessons on climate change and human impact on the planet to recycling more; using less paper and walking to school, and engaging in lessons about air quality and about the history of smog. Students built kites and solar panel cars to model modes of transport that are less polluting and there was a school-wide focus on environmentalism, including planting 60 trees around the school.
Energy Conservation: Sir Roger Manwood's School, Dover
An eco-friendly, green and healthy fundraising campaign to encourage people to walk, cycle or run – virtually – to Glasgow for the COP26 climate change summit - the Ready Steady Glas-Go campaign - aimed to raise £16,000 to change all 500 lights in the school over to more energy efficient LEDs. The project is estimated to save around £5,000 a year and around 10 tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere.
Green Champion: School of Science & Technology, Maidstone
The secondary school's green campaigners started small - seeing that the school canteen was using single use plastic straws they took the lead on writing to the schools leadership team to introduce a policy to promote the idea of students bringing in their own reusable straws. They also aim to plant trees in the school grounds and have introduced new bins for recycling specific items, but the biggest impact was getting the school to change its search engine to Ecosia which funds tree planting across the world.
Green Travel: West Malling C of E Primary School
Engaging even the youngest learners, it involves people from the school and local community. Through teachers and parents volunteering, the school provides a walking bus from the nearby supermarket car park every morning and three afternoons a week, which allows a safe environment for the children to walk to school supervised and helps cut the amount of parking near the school.
Nature Conservation - Raising Awareness Through Education and Engagement: Broadstairs College, Thanet
The college has implemented a range of practical initiatives including designing displays that showcase plastic in our seas and the consequences for wildlife and collaborating with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organisation, and their most ambitious project - installing 21 pairs of swift boxes on one of their buildings for the endangered species, working with the RSPB.
Recycling: St Edward's Catholic Primary School, Swale
Despite restrictions and disruptions the Sheerness school has continued to incorporate more aspects of recycling into their school grounds and curriculum. These include three stages of composting within the school garden, boxes on the playground at break times and water butts, and an eco committee which meets monthly which has on-going projects such as recycling old plastic milk bottles as watering cans, making bird feeders from recycled plastic drinks bottles and classes having recycling bins for paper.
OTHER CATEGORY WINNERS
Clean Air for ALL
Luton Urban Greening - Luton Primary School, Medway
Anti-idling competition - Bradfields Academy, Medway
Science Week - Saxon Way Primary School and Children's Centre, Medway
Solar Irrigation Project Sutton Valence Primary School, Maidstone
Helping green spaces to come alive - The Wyvern School, Ashford
Our Green Journey - Ashford College
Make SST Greener - School of Science & Technology, Maidstone
Sustainability Project - St Michael's RC Primary School, Medway
Wellbeing Garden - Sheppey College, Swale
Eco Committee Walk 2 School Challenge - The Thomas Aveling School, Medway
The Orchard project - Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School, Canterbury
Greening up the school - Chatham Grammar, Medway
Going Green at Hemsptead - Hempstead Junior School, Medway
The importance of our planet - New Ash Green Primary School, Sevenoaks
The Beach Clean Project - St George's C of E Primary School, Sheerness, Swale
The Beach Clean Project - St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Broadstairs, Thanet
Cans for Cash - Victoria Road Primary School, Ashford
Project Upcycle - Canterbury College
Protect our Planet - Cecil Road Primary School, Gravesham
Make Thamesview Green - Thamesview School, Gravesham
Small changes can make a big difference - Palm Bay Primary School, Thanet
Road Crossing Patrol
Jackie Castaneda who serves both Rainham School for Girls and The Howard School
Alison Bentley from Brookfield Junior School, Larkfield
* Nominations for the 2022 awards will be opening shortly. Find out more here.