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Using the Challenge to gain Eco-Schools Green Flag Status

Gillygooley Primary School used Sky Rainforest Rescue Schools Challenge to gain their school's Eco-Schools Green Flag status

Gillygooley Primary in Northern Ireland is a small, rural school with a large commitment to sustainability. It’s an important part of the ethos of the school, which has already achieved the Eco-School Bronze award. Now the school are using the Sky Rainforest Rescue Schools Challenge to acheive the coveted Green Flag status.

“What attracted me to the Challenge were the interactive online resources and that it’s a structured programme with clear actions, with an element of competition (between schools) through the points system. When I looked at what was involved with taking on a Challenge, I saw that it went hand-in-hand with the Eco-Schools work,” Lead teacher Mrs Jameson

Energy is the only compulsory topic for the Green Flag of the nine areas of the Eco-Schools programme. So both of the teams from the mixed Year 6 and Year 7 class began work on the Energy We Use topic. By using the energy monitors they were sent as part of their Challenge, the students quickly switched on to how much energy was being wasted.

The students loved the energy monitors, loved carrying out the spot checks in the classrooms.” The teams discovered that printers and computer screens were the items most often left switched on when they weren’t being used.

For their first Challenge investigation, the teams carried out an energy usage and awareness survey at school and at home. Gathering evidence and data like this is a requirement for the Green Flag award.

Choosing the names ‘Forest Rangers’ and ‘Rainforest Heroes’, the two teams were keen to spread the energy saving message throughout the whole school. “They turned it into a competition to see which classroom could be most environmentally friendly. They held a rainforest assembly for the whole school and their campaigns featured in the school newsletter and website”. Involving the community in this way will help the school achieve Green Flag status.

After their assembly, the Forest Rangers recorded their success on the team blog: “A lot of people were interested in our assembly but to get the smaller children interested we told them that some chocolate came from the rainforest – that made them listen!”

Mrs Jameson is proud of the efforts of her students. “They have really taken responsibility for their own learning, doing research, discussing the project and they are always trying to involve the whole school with it,” she says. “They’ve really impressed me with their confidence and level of participation – they’ve been really mature in their approach.”

Taking a Challenge has really helped the school receive it's Green Flag status. The timing was perfect and it has helped to bring all the different environmental ideas together for the

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