Merton Council – in partnership with environmental award-winning Aragon Primary School – hosted one of the London Sustainable Schools Forums last week (Wednesday 24 March).
Funded to the tune of £500 by the Government Office for London, the forum provided an opportunity for children, teachers, school site managers and parents from across the borough to share environmental best practice as well as to learn from, and be inspired by each other.
Tom Walsh from environmental group Sustainable Merton spoke about the importance of the role the young people in our schools can play in not only being environmentally aware themselves, but in influencing their families and friends to do their bit to save energy and lessen their impact on the planet. He went on to say how he hopes the Sustainable Schools Forum will provide a one-stop-shop where people can go to find help and guidance on making their home or office more energy efficient and a greener place to be.
Next to speak was journalist, sustainability consultant and author of Climb the Green Ladder Amy Fetzer. She spoke about how environmental sense often makes social and economic sense too. A better insulated home reduces the amount of heat needed to keep it warm and brings down fuel bills. She also highlighted how important it is to make environmental sustainability part of our culture so it becomes entwined with how we live our daily lives – including in the buying decisions we make and how we use the earth’s resources.
Aragon primary school achieved the highest award – a green flag – last year from the international award programme Eco-Schools. On top of this, journalist and environmental campaigner Lucy Siegle presented the school with an award of commendation at the London finals at this year’s Green Guardian awards – the London regional environmental awards run by newspaper group Newsquest.
Head of Aragon Gill Wilson said: ‘We take the environment very seriously at our school and I am really proud of the enthusiasm with which our pupils approach our green activities. The work our eco-schools lead teacher Tracy Riccio does with our committed pupils is invaluable. This forum is a great way of raising awareness of what schools can do to be environmentally responsible. We see ourselves as a sustainable school where we work to integrate the environment into our curriculum, our core values and our work with the local community.’
James Lucas, a pupil at Aragon School said: ‘I manage our school vegetable plot and really enjoy being outside and seeing the seeds I plant grown into things I like to eat. It’s very rewarding and a good way of getting to know new people in the school. Having got into gardening at school, I’m now growing vegetables at home too.’
Merton Council director of environment and regeneration Chris Lee said: ‘The Sustainable Schools Forum is an excellent opportunity for our local school children, their parents and teachers to share with each other what they are doing for the environment at their schools and in their homes. Thinking about the products we buy and simple lifestyle changes we are all able to make to lighten our carbon footprint can make a difference to our planet and energy resources if enough of us get involved.’
Notes to editors
Eco-Schools is one of five environmental education programmes run internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). It is an international award programme that guides schools on their sustainable journey, providing a framework to help embed these principles into the heart of school life.