How Eco-Schools benefits pupils, teachers and communities
A blog post by Brendan Fox
- A decade and a half of environmental legislation
- It's never too early to learn about the climate emergency
- Our strategy to inspire action for our environment
- FARE Lochend - Where good news is standard
- Glashieburn's LEAF journey
- An Interview with Travel Influencer Chris Lawlor
- Climate action with hope and optimism
- The Big River Irvine Riverbank Clean
- Eating nettles and gazing at clouds: a LEAF reflection
- #TakeItBack to the start
- Dalry Primary School's LEAF journey
- Pedalling towards a sustainable future
- Chirnside Primary School's LEAF journey
- Flowerbank Early Childhood Centre's Pocket Garden Experience
- To keep Scotland beautiful we all need to take action
- Applegarth and Hutton’s LEAF journey
- Our hope for a nature positive Scotland
- Becoming a Platinum Carbon Literate Organisation
- Volunteering with KSB and loving every minute
- We are all accountable for our actions
- Hillhead students talk keeping Kelvingrove Park beautiful
- Making it easy to choose a reusable cup for takeaway drinks
- Get to know...John MacLennan
- Get to know...Sandy Scott
- Community gardening for climate, nature and heritage in Cumbernauld
- Tackling the litter emergency to protect our wild isles
- Scotland isn't looking so beautiful. We can change that.
- Get to know... Green Flag Award Judges
- Collaboration and innovation to tackle marine litter
- An introduction to Kinnesswood in Bloom...
- The litter emergency
- Our charity faces the environmental challenges ahead with optimism
- Wrapping up 2022
- Biodiversity - Reflections on COP15
- Small steps to protect biodiversity
- Why Mountains Matter
- It’s not just bees and butterflies on your flowers
- Wet Wipes - What's the Issue?
- Young Reporters on the Route: The Launch of Running Out of Time
- Getting to know... Tom Brock OBE
- Getting to know...Kyle Usher
- A busy day for Upstream Battle education
- Planning a Wedding with the Planet in Mind
- 'Disposable' vapes and the damage they cause
- Climate Emergency Training provides positive opportunities for young people
- Making climate action possible for everyone
- Reasons to be positive
- Shotts is ACTing NOW on climate change
- Hope is a Garden
- Do we need the word 'pests' anymore?
- Beautiful Scotland judging - the truth
- Supporting Scotland to be the very greenest destination it can be
- Arbroath - working together, inspiring local climate action and improving lives
- Reflections of a beach manager
- I do like to be beside the seaside
- Climate Action Schools - helping young people take action
- Inspiring and empowering young people
- Climate Ready Classrooms at George Heriot's
- Data drives decisions
- Litter, fines and doing time
- Why our Web Developer Cameron loves being part of Team KSB
- It's only one
- Why join the family of It’s Your Neighbourhood?
- YoungScot Legacy Event
- Why it is the sea and SDG 14 for me
- Litter picking - a surprisingly fun group activity
- Climate Action Skills and positive action for all
- Seeing community groups thrive with Beautiful Scotland and It's Your Neighbourhood
- (What to do on) a dreich morning on the Firth of Clyde
- West Lothian Litter Pickers – How I got involved
- Scotland’s Climate Festival – Seed funding for community action
- Climate Ready Classrooms at St. Paul’s RC High School
- Scottish Book Trust representative joins Pocket Garden judging panel
- Have #YourSayOnLitter - we plan to...
- Everyone has something to say about litter – time to make it count
- Who ya gonna call?
- Why I pick up other people's garbage.
- Getting to Know...Colin
- Creative Careers: Spotlight on Heritage #NoWrongPath
- Celebrating Scotland’s best managed green and blue spaces
- Taking small steps towards a more sustainable future
- Caring for our planet
- Football’s Power to Combat Climate Change
- Our work on the COP26 Youth Climate Programme
- What’s litter got to do with climate change?
- Scotland’s Climate Festival kicks off in Falkirk
- Responsible Tourism – an opportunity not to be missed
- Climate Change Vlog by Dalry Primary School
- Failing our future?
- Our Week of Climate Action
- #ScotClimateWeek - our impacts and actions
- Protecting the sand and sea
- Another fine mess – part one
- Designing a lower carbon Scotland
- Getting to know... Lisa Snedden
- Combating climate change with information, education and training
- Litter picking 500 miles was always Gonna Be easy
- 7K for 7 Flags Challenge
- Littering less at St Joseph's Primary School in Glasgow
- Smashing litter picking targets during an unexpected stay in Scotland
- Keeping our communities beautiful
- Celebrating our brilliant volunteers
- Designing a pocket garden
- Getting to know... Nicola Smith
- East Haven Together
- It’s time to litter-ly turn anger into action
- Working in partnership to give communities a helping hand to clean up Scotland
- Why Beautiful Scotland is important to Lauder in Bloom
- We can all be climate ready
- Climate Ready Classrooms at Speyside High School
- Taking part in It's Your Neighbourhood
- Bags of opportunity for good
- Getting to know... Eve Keepax
- Lucky to live here
- A year of opportunity ahead
In celebration of the Eco-Schools programme Brendan Fox, a Biology teacher at Auchmuty High School in Fife, shared just some of the benefits both he and the pupils have experienced with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) magazine.
Teaching for more than 30 years, Brendan started his career in London, then worked in Europe before heading to Scotland. Brendan has been an Eco-Schools coordinator in three of Fife’s secondary schools, helping them gain the internationally recognised Green Flag accreditation.
Brendan has a passion for sustainability: while in Fife, he has helped to plant orchards, created new woodland and hedgerow areas, built vegetable, flower and sensory gardens, coordinated environmental cleaning up, set up bat and bird boxes, expanded habitat corridors and cultivated wildflower meadows. He has also worked with Rotary Clubs, Community Councils, the Woodland Trust, Scotland in Bloom, the RSPBS, St Andrews Links Trust and parents of children all over Fife.
“I began to fully engage with the Eco-Schools initiative during my Chartered Teacher studies and after being inspired and motivated by many other professionals and even now I am still realising significant projects,” Brendan said.
“I am particularly grateful to a gentleman by the name of James T M Towill, a dedicated, ardent, driven professional, who helped guide my approach to teaching for sustainability at the very beginning and encouraged me to apply for a Professional Recognition award.”
Brendan believes that every school could benefit from the Eco-Schools programme: “Eco-Schools has given me many opportunities to develop as an educator. It’s allowed me to focus more on the important issues facing our planet and encourage learners to positively confront the challenges ahead.”
Linking with communities
Learner-led campaigns around litter are key and effective elements of the programme. Working with residents, local businesses, shops and supermarkets, learners can help improve litter strategies, such as relocating recycling bins within and outside the school grounds to best effect.
Benefits of reducing or altering consumption – switching off lights and PCs when not in use, for example – go beyond environmental. Some initiatives aim to raise money by setting up Rag Bag collection points within the community to recycle clothing or selling Fairtrade produce to generate income. Other possibilities like taking collected drinks cans to the scrap merchants or selling produce grown by learners at parents’ evenings and community events are easy and fun to organise.
“The whole school community always benefits from increased family engagement during such endeavours,” explained Brendan. “They can become more involved, contributing their time, labour or expertise to the achievement of Eco-Schools projects and goals. Including the wider community in celebrations strengthens and builds closer ties.”
The health and wellbeing benefits of sharing in the learning and working within a community where school and home are visibly mutually supportive is something Brendan has witnessed. “This is especially important for our learners with additional support needs, and particularly relevant when we consider the lingering effects of the recent pandemic.”
Benefits to learners
Enabling learners to adopt leadership roles (such as Eco-Committee membership and project planning) and empowering their decision-making (such as letting them decide on topics and actions), has been proven to enhance pupil confidence. “Eco-Schools should generally be learner-led and provide opportunities to teach learners transferable skills leading to interdisciplinary cross pollination,” Brendan added.
When learners actively participate in improving their immediate environment, they are transforming the world around them. “The physical and noticeable consequences of learner’s endeavours help them to realise, that despite all the doom and gloom, change for the good is possible,” explained Brandan. He believes that the cyclical approach of Eco-Schools allows pupils to see this obvious, continual and sustained improvement around them, instilling a belief in the future and embedding a sense of pride in themselves and for their schools.
Visit Eco-Schools | Keep Scotland Beautiful for more information on Eco-Schools.