Hard work earns a Green flag Award
Belhaven staff and pupils have been working hard over the last two years to achieve the Green Flag certification, awarded to schools for their efforts in sustainability.
Our three chosen topics were: Litter, Global Citizenship and Waste Minimisation
As you might expect, the pandemic led to the postponement, sometimes cancellation, of certain events so it has taken us two years instead of one, but we’ve finally achieved it!
The activity was led by an Eco Committee, with pupils from every year group representing their peers as well as dedicated teachers: Mrs Haddon, Mrs Leitch, Mme Brodie and Elena Clark. The pupils were fantastic at coming up with ideas of tangible actions aimed at protecting our planet. We met once a month to discuss the representatives’ ideas, such as reducing our use of plastic (cling film, water bottles, single-use jam and marmite), eating more local products or growing trees for our local communities.
On Monday 7th October, the pupils completed an Environmental Review to identify the good things that we were already doing for the environment but also what we could be doing better. We found that we were doing well in terms of biodiversity with the lovely wooded grounds, the bug dens the pupils built with Mrs Haddon, the numerous dogs, and outdoor lessons and games every day that we have here. The main areas where improvements could be made were in waste and energy management. The pupils held an assembly in October about what the Eco Committee wanted to achieve and to raise awareness about the 3 Rs: Reuse; Reduce; Recycle.
In the Spring term, new pupil representatives brought with them fresh ideas on how to reduce plastic, such as using reusable ice packs, creating art work with sweetie wrappers to raise awareness about littering and plastic pollution, and to reduce littering by adding more bins around school. To reduce our consumption of paper in bathrooms, the pupils planned a competition for the best poster to encourage pupils to reduce their use of paper and the importance of producing less waste. The pupils had lots of questions about what could or could not be recycled. Mrs Leitch contacted Viridor to see if we could all visit it to understand more how recycling works. The visit was meant to happen in June 2020 but unfortunately, because of the pandemic, we couldn’t go.
What we have managed to achieve during the year:
We had a litter pick in the school grounds and at the beach to raise awareness about littering and to make our environment safer for animals. We were all surprised by how many items came from fishing on the beach.
To reduce the amount of single use plastic, Co-Chair of Governors, Alexander Dewar, kindly donated water bottles for the children to use so we wouldn’t have to use any more plastic ones for matches. Thanks to Elena Clark, far fewer plastic bottles are being used for cleaning, as concentrated products are being bought and now compostable bin bags are used in classrooms.
The Wee Sleep Out. Alice from Social Bite came to talk to the whole school about homelessness. It was very eye-opening and inspiring to hear directly from the founder of Social Bite how they were helping so many people dealing with homelessness. The children and Belhaven families were hugely supportive of the project. The encouraging messages from families and friends on our fundraising page were all extremely positive.
Overall, the pupils managed to raise over £5,000 (including Giftaid) by sleeping rough in the sports hall, supervised by 5 teachers.
Mrs Leitch organised a whole tree planting operation. The first 200 saplings were ordered from the Woodland Trust. Then the children planted them in the walled garden to grow. In December 2020, Mrs Leitch and some enthusiastic pupils then replanted 100 of them at their final home in Lochend Woods.
The form 4s, with Mrs Gale and Mrs Haddon, completed the John Muir Award. They learnt about John Muir; trees; the importance of protecting nature; made bug hotels and prepared the polytunnel with Mme Brodie for next term by removing all the dead tomato, cucumber and bean plants.
On the 25th of May 2021, we received some fantastic news that we were awarded our first Eco-Schools Scotland Green Flag Award!
Thank you to all the pupils, parents and teachers who made this possible: you can all be very proud of what has been achieved so far – and we all look forward to seeing the Green Flag flying from the school flag-pole very soon!