"GREEN SCHOOLS" and "THE GREEN TEAM" is an interactive educational program that empowers pupils, teachers, parents and the wider school community to protect the environment through environmental education programme, environmental management system waste reduction which encourages recycling, composting, energy conservation and pollution prevention. It promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole school action for the environment and through it participating schools receive certificates of recognition, flags and are eligible to win other awards. As a learning resource, it aims to increase students’ and participants awareness of environmental issues through classroom studies and to transfer this knowledge into positive environmental action in the school and also in the wider community.
Green-Schools is a European programme which was iniatiated to promote responsible behaviour towards the environment among school children and the wider community. St. Oliver Plunkett School has been awarded six green flags to date and is currently working on its seventh.
The Green-Schools idea was originally developed by FEE - The Foundation for Environmental Education – which aims to promote awareness of the importance of environmental education. An Taisce, the Irish National Trust and Fingal County Council are members of FEE and co-ordinate the Green-Schools campaign in Fingal and throughout Ireland.
One of the key success factors of the Green-Schools programme is that it is a themed programme. That is, schools undertaking the programme work through a seven step programme for each theme. The themes in sequence are: i) Litter and Waste, ii) Energy, iii) Water, iv) Travel, v) Climate Change. This process helps pupils to recognise the importance of environmental issues and take them more seriously in their personal and home lives.
As an award system, Green-Schools promote and acknowledge long-term, whole-school action for the environment. The programme can be adopted by any school using the guidelines set out in the An Taisce handbook. Schools that have successfully completed all the elements of the programme are awarded the ‘Green-Flag’. This award has now become a well-recognised Eco-Label. The award has to be renewed every two to three years.
St Oliver Plunkett Green-Schools Projects
Our Green-Schools Projects are older than the Green-Schools organisation itself which was founded in 1999! Since the early 80’s Ollies has been involved in many environmental projects and we have won lots of prizes for our excellence. We were winners in the Fingal Tidy Schools Project and the Fingal School Gardens Competition for many years. To fund the environmental projects we were actively involved in the "Cash for Cans" project and raised the necessary money to fund a school garden project. Then in 2001 we set up our first Green-Schools committee and we were awarded our first green flag in 2003. We have been actively greening ever since.
The structure of Green-Schools Committee in Ollies is:
Two pupils from each class group third to sixth (each of these adopt a Junior Class)
First Green Flag
Ollies was awarded the Green Flag status in 2003 for our Reduce-Reuse-Recycle projects.
In our Re-cycling Programme we collect:
Mobile Phones for the Jack and Jill Foundation
Green Teams: All classes have a "Green Team" who take charge of keeping the classroom and its environs litter free. They collect the rubbish and the recyclables and bring them to Richard each day. This work on "Reduce-Reuse-Recycle" continues today and is constantly being expanded through the Green-Schools programmes.
Second Green Flag
Our Second Green Flag was awarded in 2005 for our "Energy" saving initiatives. Our increasing awareness of energy is leading us to respect and conserve energy. This supports the "Power of One" campaign nationally.
Energy Police in each class remind us to "Switch it off". We hope this will help us develop a positive awareness of our environment.
Third Green Flag
In 2007 we were awarded our third Green Flag for our "Water Conservation" efforts. The big message ehere was "turn it off". "Why do we need the tap running when we are brushing our teeth or rinsing the dishes?" It was during this campaign that the school spear-headed the "Green Button" on toilet cisterns which many schools adopted.
As with all other Green Flag themes, the work of the Green-Schools committee is supported by curricular projects undertaken at all class levels. We are learning about the precious commodity water is and the necessity to conserve it. We hope this will help us develop a positive awareness of our environment.
Fourth Green Flag
Our most recent Green Flag achievement was in 2009 for "Travel"
The main focus of our "Action day" for this theme was the official launch of our "W.O.W" Day.
This means, "Walk on Wednesday" or "Walk Once a Week", whichever suits best. Where walking is not an option, we encourage "Park-and-Stride" - parking the car safely in the locality and walking the final part of the journey to school. We re-launch this initiative every September and make every effort to keep it going throughout the year. We actively encourage the children to walk or cycle to school as often as possible.
There are many good reasons for having children walk or cycle to school and leave that car at home:
General good health and well-being exercise prepares us for the day ahead.
It is a good habit for their future lives
Benefits the environment with reduced carbon emmissions
Reduced fuel costs