Published: 11:26, 15 February 2019
| Updated: 11:27, 15 February 2019
Love was in the air at the Green School Awards on Valentine’s Day with 27 schools honoured for their efforts in caring for the environment.
The fourth annual event, staged by Inspire Schools at the Ashford International Hotel, celebrated the top eco projects carried out in schools and the wider community to inspire the next generation of green heroes.
Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, described the awards as a “great example” of engaging young people in protecting the environment – a key goal of the government’s drive to make 2019 a Year of Green Action.
Simon Dolby, chief executive of Inspire Schools, was the master of ceremonies and James Williams, the Director of Public Health for Medway Council, gave a rousing welcome address.
Winners from Kent, Medway, Bexley, Sussex and London were roundly praised and presented with district awards for their hard work, ingenuity and dedication.
Just seven schools were crowned overall winners for London and the South East: Kings Hill Primary in West Malling, named Health and Wellbeing Champion; King’s Academy Ringmer in Lewes, awarded Energy Conservation Champion; and Garlinge Primary School and Nursery in Margate, recipient of the Green Travel Champion Award.
Shears Green Infant School in Northfleet was awarded the Nature Conservation Champion accolade; and Oasis Academy Skinner Street in Gillingham was named Clean Air School Champion. Two Ashford schools won top titles with St Teresa’s Catholic Primary receiving the Recycling Champion Award and Great Chart Primary being named Green Champion.
Mr Dolby said: “It’s apt that on Valentine’s Day we celebrate our love for the environment and everything that schools are doing to protect and conserve it.
“I would like to congratulate all of our winners, whose work is the epitome of ‘think global, act local’. They are equipping young people with the tools and enthusiasm to make a real difference - and creating green ambassadors of the future.”
Representatives from supporting organisations presenting the awards included the Kent, Medway, Ashford, Maidstone and Bexley councils plus ADM Computing, East Kent Recycling, Three R’s Teacher Recruitment, Kent Environmental Strategy, Eurostar, Farmwood, Golding Homes, Volker Highways, Countrystyle Recycling, Blessing by Blé, NCS Technology, Ashford International, Loop CR, and Specsavers.
Maidstone winner Archbishop Courtenay Primary School took away more than the district prize for Best Clean Air School. The school won the ‘Don’t Be Idle’ schools banner competition run by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells councils as part of the ‘Clean Air for Schools’ campaign. Archbishop Courtenay’s banner design to deter drivers from engine idling was deemed the best.
They were also selected by Green School Awards headline partner Golding Homes to receive an extra prize. The school will be visited by the KM Charity Team’s media team who will create a video showcasing the children’s green activities.
The event included a performance from Priory Fields School Choir from Dover, who won last year’s Walk to School Song Contest. The children sang their version of the S Club 7 song ‘Reach’ - which they renamed ‘Reach for the Bus’ and featured their own lyrics - followed by ‘This Little Light of Mine’.
The song for this year’s competition is ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina and the Waves and is now open for entry at www.InspireSchools.org.uk/SongContest
Details of the winning schools’ projects will be printed in a best practice brochure and distributed to schools across the south east to encourage others to follow their lead.
Sarah Leipnik of Golding Homes said: “These schools – not just from Kent, but from London and the south east – have done some great work with their green initiatives.”
She praised the variety of projects including the recycling and renewable energy initiatives, which she said are “very high on our priority list.”
“Our young people are really championing green initiatives,” she added. “It’s fantastic to see and I’m so proud and privileged to be a part of these awards.”
Schools can get involved with green initiatives – including the walk to school scheme Super Wow – at www.InspireSchools.org.uk/wow
The Inspire Schools charity organises a range of events to celebrate excellence in schools including the Kent, London, and Sussex Teacher of the Year Awards events – currently open to nominations at www.InspireSchools.org.uk/teacher-of-the-year