Sustainability and Ecology
Sustainability and ecology are vitally important; in business, at home and in our children’s education. Here at Shinfield St Mary’s, we pride ourselves on our forward thinking approach to environmentally driven education and community engagement. The journey to that goal of sustainability begins with educating our students in a nurturing and sustainable environment and one that is both engaging and enjoyable. Set in over 5 acres of rural land, we are blessed to have an abundance of trees, bushes and other natural features for children to explore.
Our pupils are involved in active learning about the environment. We’ve filled our library with books that celebrate and share amazing facts about the Earth and environmental movement leaders like Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough.
Students feel most powerful and engaged when they connect their own lives to what’s going on in the world. Sustainability topics are divided across the school year groups; the complexity of issues covered increases as the children become older. These lessons are based around the United Nations Sustainability goals. Examples of some of the topics covered include:
Year 3 Children are taught about food miles. How far has your apple travelled before it arrived in the shop?
Year 4 Fair trade is viewed in detail. What processes have occurred from fork to plate?
Year 5 Are taught about ‘fast fashion’ and its impact. Is the way we currently live a sustainable model?
Year 6 Students are taught how they can calculate an average family’s carbon footprint and study the “life cycle” of plastic.
Rubbish exists. It is all around us. Food waste is the biggest occupant of landfills in the UK. Here at Shinfield, we recycle everything we are able to. All card, paper, metal and plastic is sent for recycling. Cooked food waste from the kitchen is sent to methane production plants. Finally, all fruit waste and tea bags go to our schools very own vermicomposting (worm bins) where we make our own compost.
Teaching children about the food they eat takes on a whole new meaning when they grow it themselves. Gardening offers students healthy food, and a deeper appreciation for their environment. Improved health and wellbeing; better attention levels in class, higher academic achievement and strengthening links with the local community are just some of the ways gardening helps our school flourish. We are very fortunate to have constructed a ‘mini farm’ on site with; 24 raised beds, an aquaponics Bio-dome, 2 greenhouses, hugelkultur, Willow Osier, hydroponic system and a chicken coop. Children are taught a variety of agriculture and sustainability techniques. All the food we grow is donated to local food banks – therefore teaching children social responsibility to.
For our children, promoting walking to school is another component part of our sustainability voyage. We encourage pupils to walk, scoot or cycle to school by having regular walk to school awards competitions. We have partnered up with Modal Shift Stars and WBC to help our school become as green as possible.
Aside from being a Beacon School for the Tree Council and a Green flag school (only 8% of UK schools have met the required standard) we were also one of the first schools in the world to be both carbon neutral accredited (through One Carbon World) and a partner of the UN climate Initiative Now. Subsequently, our school has featured at COP25, COP26 and COP27 events with our videos translated into three languages.
Children are the future and are great agents of change. We believe actively encouraging them, both educationally and socially, to be part of a sustainability framework can give them a life-long love of nature as well as a sense of shared responsibility for the planet and their local community.
See us in action by clicking the links below
COP26 - https://youtu.be/ZGdTNzeQHC0
It’s action time song with Ewan McGregor: https://youtu.be/1Ox7dHaSPS8