Eco Schools Green Flag Accreditation
Quaggy are working towards the Eco Schools Green Flag accreditation. This is a national accreditation that empowers children to have their say and cause real change to nurseries and schools. The process involves seven steps in order to achieve the accreditation. The first is setting up an Eco Committee. This has seen us facilitate the children being members of the committee and deciding which topics to focus on and to start making changes and developing new opportunities for children and parents to get involved with. This is our journey.
The Seven Steps are as follows:
Setting up the Committee
The Committee was set up in January 2022. The children who volunteered for becoming members were excited to be involved. Their first task was to choose what areas to focus on for the award. Supporting staff created voting sheets using sticky dots under each heading. Children voted and the 3 areas of focus were:
At the meetings, which are held monthly, the members talk about what they are doing for the accreditation. Eco activities and projects, discussed at the meetings, are put into practice for all children across the nursery. Children role model to other children, for example we have water monitors who wear sashes and check for dripping taps; this was introduced in the Eco committee and now all children can take part in this.
We have an Eco Board with information and photos to explain what the Eco-committee are doing and the progress we are making. This is a ‘live’ board, so is constantly updated. We use lots of photos, pictures and posters as this is more accessible for children in the Early Years.
The children were involved in regularly completing an environmental review of their environment. This involved all 10 topic areas of the award. Children would discuss what they believed their environment did to support the progress in different areas.
It has helped the children look at what they have achieved and identify gaps to focus on. The review also demonstrates the impact that the Eco work is having on the children.
It proved to be a really interactive way to create discussion and develop understanding of the work of the committee
After deciding which 3 topics we were focussing on we had to develop a plan to put things into action. The staff team worked hard on developing this and the children’s Committee were involved in putting this all into action.
The Action Plan was shared in a child centered way at the Eco-committee meetings and activities that come from this involve all the children. The Action Plan was also shared at staff meetings. A copy of the Action Plan is on display on the Eco Board and in the Eco Committee meeting folder.
AN EXAMPLE OF A CURRICULUM LINK
TOPIC: BIODIVERSITY – Understanding the importance of Biodiversity – the variety of life on earth and how each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems to maintain balance and support life.
1. Give each child bean seeds to plant in a bag and take home with instructions. Watching the roots and shoots grow. Reading related stories
2. Create a bug hotel for insects- count insects/draw them/read related stories
3. Make bird feeders and take trips to local area/pond to identify different birds
CURRICULUM LINK: Mathematics, knowledge and understanding of the world, physical, literacy, personal, social and emotional development, communication and language
Involving and Informing
Letters are regularly emailed to parents/carers. Eco boards are on display; these are updated regularly. Information is on our website, this includes our Environmental-hub, which has been developed to demonstrate what we are doing, track progress and offer facts, advice and other resources to support being environmentally friendly. Messages about our Eco work goes out weekly on social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There is an Eco news update on monthly parent newsletters and on every report for the Trustees; this is quarterly. A termly Eco Newsletter is produced. There is a dedicated Eco section in our Quaggy Development Trust Annual Review – this goes out to parents, centre users, partners and funders.
Monitoring and Evaluation
A big part of our journey has been getting the message out there about being kind and respecting the planet; why this is so important and how we can really have an impact on sustainability. We have been able to teach the children good habits so that they can carry this on for future generations and embedding good practice with staff and getting parents on board too. We have made important links with the community and looked at alternative more environmentally friendly ways of doing things/buying/using resources. As well as this being so important, we have also had fun, been really creative, gained new experiences and learnt new skills!
Our New Eco Code
There were discussions in nursery with the children about what environmental message they would like to share related to the chosen topics they have worked on. They talked about poems and songs and the children came up with their ideas and the tune they would like to use to sing it.
Our Eco Code relates to the Water topic – saving water and what not to flush down the toilet (3 ps), the Biodiversity topic – making bug hotels and the Healthy Living topic – growing vegetables and eating healthy food. It is also very much about spreading the message to other children in a fun way through singing.