Damhead Primary School, on the outskirts of Coleraine, has been awarded a prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag by the environmental charity ‘Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’.
The Eco-Schools Programme is the world’s largest Environmental Education programme and aims to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of the life and ethos of a school. Its participatory approach and combination of learning and action makes it an ideal way for schools to begin improving the environments of schools and their local communities.
Eco-Schools work through a simple seven-step process resulting in the programme becoming central to the school’s ethos. Schools can choose from ten eco-topics ranging from litter and waste to energy, biodiversity and transport to name a few. Eco-Schools work towards achieving awards – bronze, silver and the prestigious Green Flag.
The internationally recognised Green Flag is this highest award given to Eco-Schools and symbolises excellence in the field of environmental activity.
The children of Damhead Primary School focused on reducing their waste, reusing and recycling where possible. The Eco Committee led assemblies to share this focus with the school, and caused much excitement carrying out bin checks with prizes for the best class! Guest speakers from nearby ‘RiverRidge Recycling’ came to explain to the children why this is so important. Many thanks goes to them for kitting out the committee with high-vis jackets and litter pickers! Damhead took measures to reduce its use of single use plastics, banning straws in school and encouraging the use of reusable water bottles. Some of the children also made a visit to ‘CanCan Recycling’ in Ballymoney to become more involved in local recycling enterprises.
Damhead also took steps to save energy in school. As a solar panel school, the Eco Committee tracked the amount of energy produced by the solar panels weekly. Each class used a thermometer to ensure they didn’t go too far above 18 degrees. Bryson Energy also paid a visit to teach the children how to save energy in school and at home. Damhead were champions in the Energy Saving Week Challenge!
Global awareness was the third focus for Green Flag status. Throughout the school, the children had lessons in how everyone’s choices can affect others in the world. Children were encouraged to look out for the ‘Fair Trade’ logo on food packing and the staff room switched to Fair Trade tea and coffee. The Eco Committee led an assembly on global issues to inform the rest of the school.
Damhead wishes to thanks all its delivery partners, such as RiverRidge and CanCan, Cash for Clobber, Bryson Energy and their own caretaker Mr Young, who was always on board to explain electricity panels and weigh bins!
Damhead looks forward to maintaining this award and extending its focus, as the school continues to tackle the extremely important issues involved in the Eco Schools Programme. They are very proud of their achievement and have enjoyed the work and the fun they had getting to this stage.
The International Eco-Schools Programme is operated in Northern Ireland by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and is a free to enter programme. Please visit www.eco-schoolsni.org for further information.