After a year of hard work at the International School Eindhoven by all members of the Eco-Schools Team, the school was awarded the Silver Award in December which we celebrated with an award ceremony on Monday 6th February, which also coincided with the school’s first Warm Jumper Day. The whole team, including students from primary through to secondary departments, was on hand to receive the award.
By Tracy Syrill, Eco School Coordinator secondary, International School Eindhoven.
Eco-Schools Netherlands is an organisation created to help schools become more sustainable in their everyday life and put focus on the changes that are made in the hands of the students.
Eco-Schools has three levels of an award that must be achieved in order; Bronze, Silver, and Green Flag. The bronze award is awarded upon completion of the first 4 of the 7 steps plan. The ISE achieved the silver award through a range of actions, which covered the first 5 of the 7 steps. Steps 1- 4 should be repeated or updated and add step 5, the curriculum scan. One of the main activities was to continue working on our action plan.
Here we have identified, through the eco scan, which areas of improvement we wish to concentrate on within our school. We chose to look at waste management, food, energy, greenery, and water. We have several ongoing projects within the school, but are pleased that we now have rain barrels to store extra water for the kitchen garden and the facilities team are looking at a new strategy for waste separation across the campus. The students come together every six weeks to work on the various parts of the action plan and have also created sub teams to work on specific projects, such as the kitchen garden, the school’s own Eco-Schools website and communication.
The Silver Award also required us to look at the curriculum being taught in the school, from primary through to secondary departments and identifying ways in which the curriculum is already doing well and where we can improve. It was great to see that so many subjects already include sustainability in their curriculum and that teachers are open to including more topics around sustainability and use of resources in their subjects. We hope this will become evident over the coming year when new units or parts of units are introduced to the students.
Overall, the students feel that the school already taught them a lot about all forms of sustainability, not just environmental. This was a big plus for us as a school. In particular, the International Primary Department have the UN Sustainable Development Goals as part of their Global Missions topics. This helps to develop our students as global citizens from young age.The Silver Award has been a joint effort of many students and teachers and we are very proud of what they have achieved.
We are now looking forward to gaining the Green Flag Award this year and have a very enthusiastic team of students, led by DP students and supported by a fantastic team of teachers. The drive and enthusiasm of our students will ensure that we will achieve the Green Flag and keep sustainability at the forefront of our school life. This means that we will need to keep working on steps 1-5 that we covered for the Bronze and Silver awards and also now work on steps 6 and 7 to create a full Eco-Schools profile.