It is undeniable that in recent years the world has had a renewed focus on sustainability and environmentalism. We’re making a conscious effort to ensure that the discussions had around sustainability are not merely talk but catalysts for actionable change that students can actively be a part of.
This does not mean that sustainability at St Helen’s is new – in fact, far from it. As part of the School’s effort to be recognised as an Eco-School with a Green Flag Award, our new-look, student-led Eco Council has been working with students and staff to spearhead new projects and initiatives in almost every department. One prime example of this is our annual Climate Awareness Fortnight.
Started in conjunction with the School’s Sixth Form Geography Society during COP26, the two-week event challenges students to pick a particular environmental focus and try to enact change – however big or small. Last year, the School’s focus was on food and fashion; this resulted in students bringing in old clothes to donate to charity, as well as the introduction of a weekly meat-free Monday lunchtime that has continued throughout the past year.
This year, held again to coincide with COP27, our sustainability focus has been on water and technology. Launched by Sixth Form geography students who led an assembly explaining the importance of climate awareness, and what COP27 is, as well as sharing some ‘top tips’ on how to save energy and be mindful of water consumption, the fortnight involved departments throughout the School.
Curriculum activities included quizzing students on their knowledge of sustainable practices in different languages; creating a soundscape of water recorded by students and staff in our Music Department; the Science Department’s participation in ‘Protecting our Planet Day’ to celebrate the United Nations World Environment Day; as well as a philosophical discussion, led by our Classics Department, which posed the question of what the past can teach us about human adaptation to climate change.
During the fortnight, we also hosted a number of guest speakers: ‘Let’s Talk About Climate Change’, an evening event which welcomed Dr Ken Amor from the University of Oxford and gave A level Geography students from across the OX14 Learning Partnership an opportunity to find out more about climate change. Similarly, our Art Department welcomed Suzi Delaney, founder of R-Planet, to discuss with students how she is striving to create a positive response to some of the most challenging sustainability issues faced by the fashion industry.
Read our termly Sustainability update newsletter to find out more about our Eco Council and other environmental achievements in school: