Broomfield was fortunate to have one of our parents join our Wednesday assembly from Egypt, where he was attending the COP27 Summit. It reminded us that we should all be doing our bit to protect our planet from climate change, and that if we all do a little, a lot can be achieved. Mr Anstey has written this blog, considering what steps we can and are taking in school to play our part in this whole-world agenda.
A Blog from Mr Anstey
As the world hopes for significant agreement from world leaders at COP27, this crucial event acts as a reminder that we must all play our part in combating the impact of climate change. The combination of relatively small initiatives and a dedication to sustainable growth will contribute to keeping global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial measures. Even tiny steps will have tangible impact on our own carbon footprint.
In leafy Kew, we are fortunate that our school is surrounded by beautiful and inspirational greenery. Kew Gardens is just a stone’s throw away and the National Seed Bank is located in a handsome modernist building nearby, on Kew Green. We sit in the heart of a tree-filled, urban oasis, which is protected by an active community who support the Conservation Area planning regulations. Recent government investment in local cycle lanes and new, more robust technologies, in the form of casual-hire e-scooters and electric public buses, have also been having a positive impact.
Broomfield is part of Dukes Education who, within the Founder’s Annual Review, firmly states Sustainable Growth as a KPI for 2022 and beyond. So much so, that next year’s inaugural Dukes Conference has it as a key pillar, alongside Teaching and Learning and Wellbeing. It is clear that these three areas are closely linked. Wellbeing is hugely improved by connecting with nature and it is imperative for schools to teach children about climate change, sustainability and the need for kindness to our planet. I am excited to be part of an organisation which values sustainable growth above profit. Within a capitalist society, where consumerism reigns, it is this forward-thinking, non-green washing priority that makes being part of Dukes such a privilege.
Research demonstrates that children who spend time in nature see reductions in blood pressure, anxiety, depression, stress and mental fatigue. It improves attention, memory, cognition, sleep, self-esteem and happiness. So it is clearly beneficial to bring more nature into schools and to use our influence among the leaders of tomorrow to support COP27’s joint goals. On a recent visit to Putney High School, I was highly impressed with their approach to biophilic learning, a strategy which sees plants in all areas of the school, clearly contributing to a calm, well-oxygenated teaching environment. Broomfield is a much smaller school but we are keen to learn from the initiatives and strategies of others to make our own green gains.
With this in mind, the key question is, What can a relatively small, prep school, based in a Victorian House built in the 1800s do to regulate our impact on the environment?
Here are the things Broomfield has rolled out over the past 12-months; little actions, bigger impact! It has been an intentional strategy and we are by no means finished yet.
We worked with the Kindness Bank, bringing in passionate experts to talk about sustainability with the children. We have created a prefect role of Environmental Captain for one of our Year 6 students with a passion for protecting the earth. Students have independently produced a pupil voice newspaper calling for action on climate change. The environment features heavily within our curriculum, across subjects and year groups. We actively turn off lights and are reducing energy usage through using LED lighting across the site. Sometimes I turn down the heating by a degree which, over a period of time, does help. We use a print retrieve system which has significantly cut paper and ink wastage and energy consumption. Our IT devices have automatic shut down and power save modes set as preferences and we continue to look for ways that technology can support our goals.
The environment is a regular topic of conversation in our Parent Teacher Association meetings, who run the most wonderful second-hand uniform store so parents can choose not to buy new.
Staff bikes are available for our team to cycle to work in all seasons and we provide secure storage for our pupils who scoot or cycle to school. Where possible we hire electric buses for school trips or make use of public transport. We hold the TfL Gold Award for our school travel plan, which seeks to encourage families out of their cars and help us improve the air quality around school. Indoor plants improve our office and class environments, so many that my office team regularly ask me who will have the time to water them in school holidays. We invested in a new outdoor pond area, complete with bug dens and a bee post. It is an oasis of calm and nature, which our children adore. We have a small kitchen garden and an active gardening club in the warmer months.
Working closely with our catering provider, Holroyd Howe, we are reducing food waste, educating the children to ask for smaller portions initially, as there is always room for seconds or even thirds for those who need it. We tangibly measure how our food waste has reduced and have it collected by specialists who turn into compost. Our aim is not to buy plastic but to choose suppliers offering greener alternatives. We are actively seeking ways to cut our reliance on gas and plan to retrofit our Victorian spaces by insulating walls and harnessing the sun to offset our electricity usage.
Broomfield is fortunate to receive considerable capital investment from Dukes Education. This allows us to realise our vision for classroom redesign, to create new, nature themed outdoor learning spaces and to be open to forward-thinking in our new-build opportunities. We carefully research and source materials to maximise sustainability, from furniture to heating or cooling systems. We use contractors who share our aims and take advice from architects on how best to design and build environmentally friendly spaces.
COP27 has three main themes emerging:
- continuous investment in actions to reduce global warming,
- embracing technology and funding its development and roll out
- to protect our planet through actions great and small
As a school, we are already embracing these same themes, but now is the opportunity for all of us to do more. As with any cultural change It is a positive mindset which makes the difference. Beatrix Potter famously said, “Even the smallest one can change the world.” If we all do our bit, however small, together we can have a much bigger impact.
This year, we will be better measuring our impact on the environment to produce positive change and taking practical measures to demonstrate our commitment to a better, cleaner planet. If you are taking COP27 supportive steps in your schools please reach out, if we can learn from your experiences, we are keen to do so.
Head of SchoolCategories: Academics