The students of the Edwardsville Primary School in Treharris in Wales has attracted wide attention for its attempts to inspire a sustainable life-style in the community around it. Earlier this year Edwardsville became the first school to register its eco- activities on sustainwales.com.
Pupils at the school have been learning about sustainability and doing what they can to cut their carbon footprint. The school cut the amount of waste it sent to landfill by 33% last year.
It is due to be awarded with the Green Flag next month and is bidding for lottery funding for the Eco-junction which would be run by a team of seconded teachers and community workers dedicated to enabling sustainable development and global citizenship.
The school’s deputy head Jonathan Rigby said, “The school already has its third eco committee, comprising one child from each class, the deputy headteacher, the caretaker and the chair of governors.
“The committee meets every Thursday to review and monitor the school’s environmental and sustainable progress. It draws up the school’s annual environmental activity plans, monitors what the school has already done, and rewards classes with Green Star awards for their environmental work.
“Pupils aren’t afraid to get dirt under their fingernails. They’re working transforming the school’s front garden into an eco-historical sculpture park; they’ve created a herb and sensory garden for reception class children, built a log circle with “mini-beast-haven seating” and have installed an owl-box with a web-cam to watch baby owls in spring.”
The Edwardsville Allotment Association helps pupils to grow food and the school recycles everything it can, Mr Rigby said. The pupils have also devised their own eco-code.
Global citizenship is also taught in classes and the school is taking part in a project called Sustainable Building, Slum Studies and Food Production for the 21st Century.
This project will last until spring 2010 and is funded by a grant from the Department for International Development. Its aims include teaching pupils about global citizenship.
Pupils are also studying the UN Millennium Development Goals.
They have built a cob shelter from a mixture of sub-soil, straw and clay as well as a play shelter/outdoor classroom and constructed a simulated slum.
The school has invited other schools along to see what they have done and wants to share projects with the wider community, Rigby said.
It had help building the cob shelter from Merthyr County Borough Council and The Down to Earth Project in Swansea, which provided natural building skills.
The Down to Earth Project managed the building while involving and training pupils, parents, governors and local residents. Together they created the first cob outdoor classroom in Wales.
The word cob comes from an Old English root meaning "a lump or rounded mass". It's a traditional building technique using hand formed lumps of earth mixed with sand and straw.
With recent rises in the price of lumber and increasing interest in natural and environmentally safe building practices, cob is enjoying a renaissance in the West. This ancient technology doesn't contribute to deforestation, pollution or mining nor depend on manufactured materials or power tools. Earth is non-toxic and completely recyclable.