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How schools can help tackle climate change

The threat to our planet and the environment is a very real one. We see it every day in the news and on social media; we witness it first hand in ever-changing and unstable weather patterns. But is there something that schools can be doing to help stem the climate change tide? David Garlant at Highfield and Brookham Schools certainly thinks so! Find out the fantastic leaps they’ve taken in bringing sustainability to the classroom.

We’re told by scientists and environmental experts that we are on the verge of global catastrophe, that ever-rising levels of carbon dioxide are driving climate change and that the minutes-to-midnight clock is ramping on at a seemingly unstoppable rate. It warns how many metaphorical “minutes to midnight” humanity has left and is intended to warn the public and inspire action.

We may be just one school with around 470 or so children – therefore just a tiny pin prick in the grand scheme of things – but we’re prepared to try to do our bit to reverse this change and joined by schools all over the world we’re convinced that together we can make a difference for the sake of future generations.

Almost poetically, education is the key. But rather than adults teaching the children, it’s the children who can teach the adults. After all, it’s their futures, and those of their children, at stake.

What does the school do to fight climate change?

Getting children on board is key and at Highfield and Brookham, there already appears to be a legion of young eco warriors fighting the good fight within just three years.

Meat-free Monday was implemented by pupils, Nursery children at Brookham proudly tend their own vegetable patch from seed to plate, and Earth Day was marked with a wonderful series of day-long environmental projects such as creating workable mini-wind turbines and ‘natural’ jewellery, planting trees, making colourful posters to raise awareness of the scourge of plastics in our oceans, and monitoring bee activity.

There was even a mock climate change conference for the older children at Highfield with very mature discussions on how we can work together to tackle what is a crucial global issue.

And then there was the whole-school initiative to mark the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow last November. Children collected fallen leaves from the Highfield and Brookham estate, on which they wrote ‘promises of hope’ for the planet before attaching them, using biodegradable string, to our Princess Anne tree via class mobiles.

All this on top of the school continuing to work tirelessly to become more environmentally friendly; with its biomass boiler (fed by coppicing of the self-replenishing chestnut trees on the estate) already producing 80% of the school’s heating needs, solar panels providing electrical power to the swimming pool and residential cottages, and zero waste to landfill for all sanitary waste courtesy of Sanaway.

Add in, among many other green initiatives, extensive tree planting around the grounds, installation of owl boxes and creating hibernaculums and a bee garden to encourage wildlife and a solid foundation is in place. There’s a long, long way to go, but if we all work together than maybe, just maybe, there could be green shoots of recovery on the horizon.

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