Sustainable Environment Policy / Statement

Expectations in terms of environmental protection and awareness

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Introduction

It is important for the Scoil Naomh Buithe community to have an awareness and understanding of the effects of their actions upon the environment in which they live, work and relax. In order to do this, we need to take responsibility for our own actions and we need to have a sense of duty and care for the world in which we live and which God has created for us.

Through participation in the Green schools Programme we ensure pupils, staff and the wider community are made aware of the importance of taking care of our environment. Green-Schools, known internationally as Eco-Schools, is an international environmental education programme, environmental management system and award scheme that promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole school action for the environment. Eco-Schools is operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) whose main partners include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Green-Schools in Ireland is operated and co-ordinated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce (FEE member for Ireland) in partnership with Local Authorities throughout the country, is supported by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Scoil Naomh Buithe has been awarded two Green Flags to date. We have worked on the themes of Litter & Waste and Water Conservation, and are now working on the Travel theme. We have taken all themes into the wider community to reflect and support our Global Citizenship.

Aims

The aim of this policy is to set out clearly what is expected in terms of environmental protection and awareness from all staff and pupils so that our planet is protected and appreciated. The aim of participation in the Green-Schools Programme is to increase pupil, staff and community awareness of environmental issues through classroom studies and to transfer this knowledge into positive environmental action in the school and wider community. A seven-step process sees schools tackling the issues of waste and litter, then energy, water, transport, global citizenship, biodiversity and more. Student involvement is a priority, and the seven steps take a minimum of two years each.

Need for the policy

There is a need for a policy to be put in place so that clear guidelines are set out for all staff and pupils as to what is expected of them in terms of environmental education, protection and awareness. Instilling an awareness in young children is very important for the future of our planet. Furthermore, conservation of and careful use of precious resources such as electricity, water and heating fuel and the minimisation of waste is more economical and will help to save the school money. This money can be used on educational requirements instead. It is hoped through having an active Green-Schools scene in the school, environmental issues will be discussed at home and awareness raised, thus encouraging recycling and energy/water/fuel saving in our pupils’ homes and in the wider community.

Green-Schools Committee

Every year a Green-Schools Committee will be elected, consisting of two members (one boy and one girl) from each class from 3rd to 6th Class. Two teachers from the school will lead the committee. The committee will have regular meetings to discuss Green-Schools issues and to implement initiatives. They will endeavour to gain as many Green-Schools flags as possible through participation in each two-year programme and to maintain the existing flags.

Litter/waste activities

All classrooms and the staff room should have recycling bins for paper and plastic. All children will take home waste and put it into the correct bin at home. Battery recycling boxes are to be made available throughout the school. Staff are asked to be aware of environmental impact of photocopying. Children should reuse paper where possible. Children could engage in recycled/“junk art” style projects periodically. Teachers are requested to use resources from Recycling in art lessons where possible.

Energy saving activities

Lights are to be turned off when not needed/not in use. Computers and interactive whiteboards are to be placed on standby when not in use and during breaks. Staff are requested to photocopy only what they need and to use black ink where possible. Please keep outside doors shut when appropriate to save heat, and therefore fuel and energy. Management will ensure the school is well insulated and that the heating system works efficiently.

Water saving activities

Please ensure taps are not left on when not in use. Each classroom is asked to watch out for leaks and report same to the main office. Management will ensure that cleaners employed by the school use the minimum water required and that they use environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

Transport

Pupils are encouraged to walk, cycle, scoot to school and bike and scooter racks will be installed during the summer holidays. Car-pooling where practicable (for both pupils and staff) is also encouraged.

Biodiversity

We are very lucky to have school grounds which are well maintained. We have a vegetable garden now where children can get involved in planting their own food. The focus has been on creating a haven for wildlife and insects and we will endeavour to promote biodiversity by using environmentally safe products and methods in our garden.

Curricular activities:

Many aspects of environmental awareness will be taught in the form of explicit lessons which will complement the Green-Schools activities taking place throughout the school in relation to litter, energy, water, transport, biodiversity and our global citizenship themes. The themes can be integrated into many different subjects easily. The following are some examples of where the Green-Schools programme can be linked to curricular work:

  • SPHE: - promotion of personal development and wellbeing, citizenship and social/personal responsibility, communication/co-operation with others, media awareness
  • Art: - creation of posters, murals, signs, logos, mascots, water as a medium for art.
  • Information Technology: – creating graphs and charts, using spreadsheets, designing signs and posters etc., carrying out research, use of interactive websites, sending emails/letters in relation to environmental issues, doing surveys, raising awareness through school blogs/website/emails/newsletter etc.
  • English: - debates, poetry, essays, Green Code, signs, newsletter, letters
  • Geography: - The water cycle, the water treatment process, rivers, lakes and oceans of Ireland and the world, climate change and global warming, using maps, coordinates, symbols and keys
  • History:- change in water quality and consumption over time, change in packaging/litter/consumer trends over time, relate to changes in lifestyles and society
  • Science: - pollution, properties of water, water quality sampling, water experiments
  • Maths: - charts and graphs measuring volume, capacity, interpreting surveys.

Evaluation:

The effectiveness of this policy will be judged from the following indicators:

  • A litter-free, clean school environment
  • Reduced usage for electricity, heating fuel, water and less waste disposal
  • The retention of the current Green Flags and the obtaining of further Green Flags.

Ratification, communication, monitoring and review:

The policy was ratified by the Board of Management on 31st May 2023. It will be communicated to all staff by email, and also saved on the staff server, and it will be available in the school to parents and the school community on request. It will also be communicated to pupils as part of school/class assemblies in Term One of each year. It will be reviewed every three years (or earlier if deemed necessary by the Board.)


Signed: Patrick Logue (Chairperson BOM) Anne Phillips (Principal)

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