St. Colm’s High School Draperstown takes Sustainable Schools Award at the prestigious TES Schools Awards London, 21 June 2019
The awards, celebrating their eleventh year, recognise outstanding contributions made by education teams and individuals to help students to succeed, both inside and outside the classroom.
All staff, teaching, non-teaching and pupils at St Colm’s High School, Draperstown led by the Eco coordinator Mrs Clare Devlin, have been praised for their willingness to take action to improve the environment, not only within but beyond the school. While it began with projects focusing on litter and biodiversity, the school has also looked at improving pupils’ health and wellbeing, inspired by the need not just to clean up broken bottles in a local children’s park but to tackle the culture of under-age drinking, which was leading to the problem.
The school wanted to help young people take pride in their area and manage difficult times in their lives. That was more than 10 years ago, and St Colm’s has since won many prestigious awards, recognising its work on community development, energy and water efficiency, tackling climate change and biodiversity. Regular eco-activities include litter blitzes, bird-feed workshops, painting fences, hedge planting, seasonal planting and making new objects from recycled materials.
“The inclusive nature of some activities helps draw out children who may find elements of school life challenging,” said a school spokesperson. “There’s no discrimination as everyone can plant, paint, dig, go outside and take part – and the fresh air and physical activity, and the friendships that are made, are hugely beneficial. All of these things help develop confident children.”
The judges praised the little things – such as how strawberries and tomatoes grown in the school greenhouse are served in the canteen – and the bigger projects, such as the biodiversity health trail created by the school, where local people have planted more than 250 trees in memory of deceased loved ones, and where they come to walk and relax.
“The connections with the community were key to the success of their programme, showing a whole-school approach linking mission, decision making, curriculum, community and communication,” the judges added.