During the last week I’ve had the pleasure of visiting two fantastic schools; Wortham Primary School, Wortham near Diss and Birchwood Primary School, Martlesham Heath near Ipswich and I wanted to briefly share both visits as they really were nothing short of inspirational.
Last month I was delighted to organise Wotham’s school trip to the 95th Bomb Group Hospital Museum in Denham, just down the road from us here at Mosscliff Environmental. I had received an email from Miranda Godfrey, a teacher at Wortham, asking whether I would be able to come into school and talk about renewable energy to aid the children’s learning. I thought however, that rather than me coming into the classroom and talking to the children I would bring them out of the classroom so they could see first-hand what wind turbines and solar panels look like up close. We talked about a range of things from why energy and electricity was important (the kids certainly paid attention when I explained that their PlayStations and TVs may be under threat if there was no power), the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources and the positives and negatives of green technology. Some great (and at times testing) questions were asked by the children, such as ‘how does the electricity get to peoples’ houses?’ ‘How does a turbine generate electricity?’ and, naturally, some other slightly more gruesome questions by the boys.
After the trip I set each class a small project which was to compare renewable energy and fossil fuels and to assess the advantages and disadvantages between the two. Last week I got the call to say that they were all finished and could I come in to have a look. So on Tuesday I went in and was genuinely amazed at how much research and hard work had gone into all of them. Not only that, but they had also made their very own wind farm and made TV adverts for Mosscliff! Just like their school trip I was left genuinely smiling by how incredibly well behaved, inquisitive and funny they all were; simply put their enthusiasm and happiness was infectious and it was a pleasure to help with their learning albeit in a minor way.
Last night I also attended the launch of the Creating the Greenest County Awards 2014 hosted by Birchwood Primary School who were the winners of last years ‘Champion of Champions’ award. We were shown round by two excellent tour guides who talked to us about the vast range of the school’s initiatives like Eco Schools, Food for Life and Forest School. They also told us how all the different bits of renewable technology work and how they benefit the school. We were then given a presentation of the schools work over the past few years by the children on the Eco-Schools Action Team (or the Eco-Committee) and the Headteacher, Steve Cloke.
Pupils and teachers alike were so passionate and proud about what they had achieved and they had a right to be. They have invested a huge amount of time and effort over the last seven years to get to where they are today and fully deserve to be enjoying the fruits of their labour (literally!). What was also particularly impressive was how all ‘green’ aspects of the school, or rather all aspects of the school, was made to feel so natural and cohesive. The things that are truly exceptional have been embedded and cultivated over a number of years to the extent that it is almost normal, which of course it is not; this is a testament to the work done by Steve and his staff over a number of years.
I strongly believe that by installing a ‘green’ approach to learning and indeed to the school ethos in general, Wortham and Birchwood have an energy, dynamism and passion for learning that is not easily replicated. Of course, huge credit goes to the staff of both schools for encouraging a diverse and largely unique curriculum which the pupils positively feed from, but even more could be done to ensure schools across the board have the support to really reap the benefits from this approach. If this can be done I believe that school standards in Suffolk can dramatically improve and provide the education that children in this county needs and deserves. If Suffolk County Council needs a template with which to work then they need look no further than these two fantastic schools.