Flag Raising September 26th 11am - Green Schools Co-ordinator Ciaran O'Connor
The Green Flag programme coordinated in Ireland by An Taisce, operated in partnership with Local Authorities and supported across government departments is an important and valuable part of our society.
This is the fifth Green Flag here at The King's Hospital and this year it focuses on the theme of biodiversity. The students and schools who participate in Green Schools have an opportunity to interact with that environment, to learn from it, protect it and enhance it.
However, while it is a valuable programme from a learning perspective we should not underestimate its practical value. Participating primary, secondary and special schools directly saved in excess of €8m in waste, energy, water and transport fuel costs during the last school year. 2,100 tonnes of waste; 6.8 million units of electricity, 460 million litres of water and 2.4 million litres of heating oil were saved by schools last year.
The Green-Schools programme is based on a seven-step environmental management system and continual improvement process which is very student led and also involves the wider community. Green-Schools is a themed programme with schools initially working on the themes of Litter and Waste and then moving onto themes such as Energy, Water, School Travel, Biodiversity and Global Citizenship. Schools that successfully implemented the programme are awarded the Green Flag. The award must be renewed every two years.
The evidence of the hard work here at The King’s Hospital is all around us. Huge effort went into planning, designing and building Buggingham palace at the rugby pitch. The team took just as enthusiastically to the theme of biodiversity where many of the habitats in the hedgerows, meadow and woodland of the school grounds were incorporated into studies in science classes. This was amplified by the hosting of an ‘Action Day’ where activities such as ‘guess the number of creatures in the box’ and the ‘number of jelly worms in a tub’ were incredibly popular.
The Green Flag programme promotes and encourages an understanding of this that will stay with students throughout their lives. The programme is now in its 21st year and surveys have shown that in that time the number of student nationwide who know and understand biodiversity has risen from 27% to 86%. 75% of schools have planted trees, 20% have installed bat boxes, 88% built bug hotels and 89% have installed organic vegetable gardens.
These are impressive statistics. A further 92% of schools erected bird feeding stations and 77% erected bird nest boxes. These might all seem like small measures but when taken collectively the impact on our environment is enormous.