Eco School

DOWNLANDS ECO SCHOOL

We celebrate the fact that we are a successful Green Flag school. Our certificate was renewed in 2017. The eco school assessor commented:

‘It is clear that the school has a strong ethos of environmental stewardship and great to see top-level support for the Eco-Schools work. The school is doing a remarkable job with numerous projects and initiatives underway and in the pipeline to improve its sustainability. The students I met are fantastic young people full of enthusiasm, commitment and fresh ideas for making the school greener’.
This Year we will once again seek to renew our eco status so it is going to be a busy one!

We have already carried out our school audit and it has helped us to decide on our priorities for the coming few years. These include:

  • Reduction in the sale of single use plastic in the school canteen – Plastic free 
  • Promotion of vegetarian options / beef off the menu / vegetarian day
  • Planting of more trees. Trees in the new field and investigate funding for trees in central courtyards
  • Transport options used by students & staff – 2 spaces allocated to car share. Electrical car charge options to be investigated 
  • Sections of mown areas on the school site to be left so that wild flowerborders/strips can be established – An area at the front of school
  • School departments model reducing unnecessary or wasteful printing & laminating

We celebrate a number of initiatives throughout the school year

During ‘Switch off Fortnight’ and over the space of two weeks we monitor electrical use across the school during break and lunchtimes. Certificates are awarded to the departments who remembered to ‘switch off’ rather than ‘leave on’

Our annual energy use for the 2 weeks last year was a little more than last but we have had a large new building and an increase in the number of students – and staff! Congratulations to English, Modern Languages and PDC for achieving Gold certificates. As a school community we still need to focus on wasting less energy though.

Downlands generates electricity from more than 100 solar panels on the school and sports centre roofs. This has been made possible by local charity HKD and their sponsors and investors.

During ‘Waste week’ – we focus on reducing waste and litter and we take part in the Great British Spring Clean. We organise regular lunch time litter picks. Last year we also organised a litter pick of nearby Adastra Park. 

We have completed a survey about plastics in the canteen with the aim to raise awareness and reduce the amount of plastic used in school. We are pleased that Caterlink have continued to respond positively to suggestions for reducing packaging and waste. Parents can help by encouraging the use of less packaging in packed lunches and by providing students with refillable drinks bottles.

Last year, Mr Cole, accompanied by Eco Forum members Madhavan Varadharajan, Alex Savuk, Kimberley Payne, Luca Shanahan, Leah Aldridge, Ruby King and Patrick Bates lead assemblies during Waste Week. They showed a video that was made of the trip to Haulaway and reminded the school community that any waste packaging etc could be placed in the school recycling bins unless it was contaminated with food waste. We think that the school community are now sure about which bin to use but we would still urge everyone at Downlands to reduce the amount of packaging brought into school.​ 

During ‘Walk to school week’ we organise a school travel survey for staff and students to find out their walking habits – this helps us to regularly update the school travel plan. We have had support from the organisation ‘Living Streets.’ Students annually complete a walk more challenge (or cycle) that has led to a draw for a £50 voucher from our sponsor. A bike train was organized during Walk to school week This was lead by staff cyclists and some local volunteers and parents.

We have built a rain fed planter in the library courtyard with the help of volunteers from the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust (OART) It is fed by a diverted drain pipe. The planter was dedicated to one of our much loved pupils, Daisy Bushnell who sadly passed away whilst attending the school. A plaque has been installed on the planter with Daisy’s name on it and it features a colourful array of plants that flower through the spring and summer.

We continue to complete an Invertebrate survey of the stream three times a year. The stream flows along the school boundary into Hassocks and the survey is completed by Year 10 science students and eco forum members. It is part of the overall survey of several streams in and around Hassocks in conjunction with HKD and the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust (OART). 

Downlands now has a garden area due to the hard work of Ms Van den Dolder and her team. Together we have Introduced Mason Bees to the area and Downlands has enroled as Mason Bee Guardians.

During ‘Healthy eating week’ students have taken part in a form based healthy eating quiz with winning teams from each form enjoying a tub of strawberries for their efforts. The school canteen have always risen to the challenge of this week by providing and promoting new healthy choices.

The school has an Eco Forum which meets every other Wednesday lunchtime. Students in the forum have been concerned about everything from Climate Change to recycling and litter in school. The eco forum is at the forefront of bringing about change in the school’s sustainability. New members are always welcome.

Eco club takes place after school on a Thursday and it is attended by a small but committed bunch. Students have taken part in many different activities. They have audited the school’s energy use and have continued to monitor Downlands Half Century Wood. They have planted new trees where gaps have arisen and have noticed that the willow whip circle is growing well.

Mr P Cole

 

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