What is Eco-Schools?

Eco-Schools is a globally recognised award programme which provides a simple seven step framework to help make sustainability an integral part of school life. Eco-Schools supports the enrichment of your curriculum and helps unite young people and the wider school community to care more about protecting the environment.

The programme provides a wide variety of inspiration, from introducing recycling schemes, bug hotels and herb gardens, to clean air days and even beekeeping. It places young people at the heart of the decision-making and action planning, helping raise awareness of key issues, develop ideas for behaviour change, and empower them to take action.

Eco-Schools operates in over 60 countries, making it the one of the largest educational programmes in the world, and over 20,000 schools are registered with the programme in England.

In Surrey, over 450 schools are registered, close to 300 schools have achieved an award and almost 40 schools have gained the highest award, the Green Flag, which is recognised by UNESCO.

Why become an Eco-School?

Many of us care deeply about environmental issues and have a strong desire to actively protect our planet. The school environment is a good place to address taking positive action and many young people are looking to make a difference. But the thought of tackling large and complex issues such as climate change or plastic pollution can be intimidating. It can be difficult to decide where to begin and what the appropriate focus should be, that's where the Eco-Schools programme can help.

The simplicity of the Eco-Schools seven step structure makes the programme flexible, it can be adapted and used in any education setting whether nursery, primary, secondary, college, SEND settings or Pupil Referral Units. It has also been devised with the purpose of putting young people at the heart of managing the decisions and actions they want to take in their school.

Research has found that pupil participation in Eco-Schools leads to increased confidence, development of leadership skills, improved behaviour and greater motivation at school. For example, young people are often given jobs to help the school recycle, compost and monitor energy and water use and often chair the eco-committee meetings and take minutes.

Some key benefits of taking part

Your school can:

  • Demonstrate the part you play in raising awareness of key sustainability issues and supporting behaviour change for the better of our planet and future generations. Delivering on your ethos and values and enabling you to take pride in your achievements, using them to engage your local community to take further action and support work to build the positive reputation of your school.
  • Build a positive sense of community around shared concerns and demonstrate to young people that environmental actions can be enjoyable, social and rewarding and that they have the ability to take on responsibility and make a difference.
  • Prove success in delivering on Ofsted's student personal development, behaviour and welfare common inspection framework which has been linked to the Eco-Schools framework.
  • Develop curriculum enrichment by promoting sustainability awareness issues and linking projects to a range of curriculum subjects as well as extra-curricular activities.
  • Save your school money by reducing energy, water and waste and finding new ways to re-use and recycle items that help the environment, charities and school funds.
  • Help reduce congestion around your school by encouraging walking, cycling and use of public transport.
  • Create litter-free school sites and other site improvements that are welcoming to visitors, pupils, staff and wildlife.

How we can help

The Safer Travel Team can provide free training and advice on how to get started with Eco-Schools and support you in achieving an Eco-Schools award.

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