22/07/08 – Eco-conscious head teacher Richard Dunne is working to unite a Surrey community in an attempt to drive environmental education of their school children forward.
By connecting Ashley C of E Primary School with private companies, parents and educational bodies, a group of Year Six children have secured funding for an environmental trip to the shrinking glaciers of Chamonix, France. The children are also benefiting from interactive science and environmental demonstrations by engineers at industrial gas company Air Products, explaining sustainability concepts through experiments such as cryogenic freezing of rubber.
The strategy is to create an environmental network that brings together various groups in order to raise awareness and reduce the carbon footprint of a community. Central to this scheme is providing young people with the skills and knowledge for sustainable living, closely aligned with the eight doorways to sustainability outlined in the government’s Sustainable Schools framework.
The children’s four-day environmental expedition to the shrinking Chamonix glaciers, taking place in June and part-funded by Air Products, is an exciting example of this approach in practice. Due to climate change these glaciers are slowly but surely disappearing. The children will be delivered strong educational messages aligned with National Curriculum requirements – incorporating themes of individual, communal and planetary well-being. By staying in a refuge and going to the summit of a mountain overlooking the Alps, the children will be able to see at first hand the effects of global warming and physically shown why we should adapt our behaviour. The children will then share this knowledge through a blog and formal presentations to other schools and employees at local companies.
Richard, who has been on an adult environmental excursion to Antarctica, said, ‘It is clear our pupils are concerned about being green and protecting the world we all live in. Our aim is to harness that enthusiasm through innovative activities such as Air Products environmental, science demonstrations and exposure to unique experiences like the trip to Chamonix’s shrinking glaciers. Hopefully by educating children they will go on to share their knowledge with their parents and families.’
Our aspiration is to emulate this model in other communities across the UK, commented Stephen Bradley, principal environmental advisor from Air Products, By creating community networks together we can pool our knowledge and experience, helping the education of our children and also each other.