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ResourceSmart School Awards 2017 – A Western Perspective….
The ResourceSmart School Awards celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. The awards focused on the theme ‘a decade of school wins for the environment’. A grand total of 150 entries from 87 schools were received from around Victoria. We caught up with the winning schools from the West after their big day in front of the giant screen at IMAX Melbourne to find out a bit more about what they do.
WARRINGA PARK SCHOOL, Hoppers Crossing – Winner – Water (Secondary)
Warringa Park School is a specialist school that teaches 500 Prep to Year 12 students from across Wyndham at three campuses. The Year 8 and 9 students from the Bethany Road campus gained recognition for their IEARN international project, ‘Water is Life’. Collaboration was key – students working together solving problems. From posters showing how to save water to fundraising for a new water tank, they put a whole range of initiatives into action and had their ideas shared at the United Nations! The project exceed expectations and demonstrated the value of authentic learning experiences, where thinking and learning relates not only to school and homes but is connected to international concerns. The ceremony was an exciting event for the three lucky students who were selected to attend. The award even got kisses on the way back to school! We look forward to hearing what Warringa Park School plan to do with prize money and their sustainability projects in the future.
EXFORD PRIMARY SCHOOL, Exford – Winner – Water (Primary)
Exford is located between Melton and the Eynesbury Estate, a rapidly growing area of greater Melbourne. Exford depend on rain and some recycled water at school as they do not have mains water. The population of the area is booming and the school has quickly grown from 100 to 400 students. They worked hard on their water module over the last few years and include everyone on the quest to reduce water use. From the school cleaners, to a focus on sustainability in their inquiry units; a school gardening club and sustainability councillors, saving water is a big deal at Exford. With everyone on board, they have not had to purchase any additional water for school. Exford were thrilled with the win. The lucky students who attended the awards ceremony loved the day, especially the train trip into the city and the chance to explore the museum. We look forward to hearing what Exford do next!
CATHOLIC REGIONAL COLLEGE, St Alban’s – Winner – Community Leadership (Secondary)
This award acknowledges their Community Garden project, a school-wide curriculum initiative and outreach program that allows students to grow fresh food, work with the local food bank and gain a greater perspective about what it means to be a citizen of the planet. The project has evolved and grown over the years and will continue to change.
The win has really bolstered the school’s interest and willingness to get on board with sustainability. The award is a great communication tool which has opened up conversations at the school about including sustainability across the curriculum. The students are really committed to the project, often coming in on student free days and over the holidays to work in the garden. Here are some quotes…
Dilan (student): “I felt so proud and I didn’t know that we will win an award. Our garden is good but I thought that others would have gardens better than us”.
Adrian (student): “I felt proud because what we did at holidays made it good. We took from our time and it was good for us to do that”.
Yousif (student): “I felt happy because there wasn’t a lot of the schools that came to the finals and I was proud of all the people that came to the garden and work and because of them they make us win”.
The prize will help purchase equipment for the garden and the cash will be donated to the Loaves and Fishes Foodbank.
WERRIBEE PRIMARY SCHOOL, Winner – Energy (Primary)
Werribee Primary School is the only 5 Star ResourceSmart School in the Western Metropolitan Region. They won this award for implementing a range of energy reduction approaches and increasing energy efficiency. Monthly ‘Out with Lights’ day’s challenge the whole school to go without electricity or gas, with a reward for each participating class.
An Energy Frog Journal inspires students to take energy saving ideas home to their families. For example, leaving the car at home for short trips and encouraging students to dress for the weather. The whole school, staff students and parents are very excited to be recognized as a leading school in sustainability and are very proud of this aspect of their school. We look forward to hearing from Werribee Primary school as they continue their sustainability adventure.
Seabrook Primary School is getting ready to jump its way into a frog bog!
Seabrook Primary School is about to jump its way into its first ever frog bog this year! With the support and help of our Principal, Susan Lee, the school gardener, Shelly Arnold and the environmental student leadership group, a plan to design the frog bog is not far away. The environmental leadership group are endeavouring to run an animal and plant audit to help identify what types of native animals or reptiles live around the proximity of the school. This information will help decide which types of plants will be required for the ‘bog’ area.
In addition to this great biodiversity project, Seabrook Primary School is proud of their reduction in water use from 3.15 KL/year per student in 2014 to 1.89 KL/year per student in 2016. That’s a saving of 1,260 L per student per year! This has been achieved through consistent monitoring using SWEP and attending to any leaks that have occurred around the school grounds.
Truganina South Primary School, The Story So Far…
1. What are the characteristics of your school community?
Truganina South Primary School (TSPS) is a P-6 school located on the corner of Parkvista Drive and Federation Boulevard, Truganina. Built under the new Public-Private Partnership development, TSPS is an excellent state of the art learning facility that brings together the best in contemporary educational design and promotes active student-centred learning through the creation of flexible, functional spaces. All teachers work in learning communities to create flexible teaching options in classrooms and to better cater to the individual needs of all students. The school upholds high expectations and provides an exciting and inclusive experience for students and families.
At TSPS the child is at the centre and purpose of all that we do. Our teachers and support staff work hard to provide a teaching pedagogy reflective of 21st Century designs including ICT rich environments and Personalised Learning for all students. This innovative, rich and rigorous curriculum is delivered in a positive, stimulating and challenging learning environment where every child experiences success and develops a love of life-long learning. Our students are encouraged to explore their world through inquiry learning to become thinking, informed, resilient and self-directed learners who are able to be the best they can be and contribute actively to their community.
The school has a focus on environmental sustainability and students participate in an innovative intensive environmental education program. Our school is recognised as a leading example of ecological sustainability. Our “Frog Bog” provides an interesting stimulus for linking the teaching of environmental sustainability with a practical application.
The School’s Student Leadership system at TSPS provides students from all year levels with leadership training and skill developments, and there are many opportunities to experience positions of responsibility. Our students relish the opportunity to make decisions, take on responsibilities and have input into the direction of the school.
2. Who are the key players in ResourceSmart?
TSPS has an established Sustainability Working Party, which meets every three weeks for one hour. It is made up of 7 teachers. We have a student Green Team and students that work continuously on environmental issues such as waste and Biodiversity to improve the culture of our school. Our staff are very committed to ResourceSmart and continuing our journey to becoming the first PPP ResourceSmart school!
3. How long have you been involved in ResourceSmart?
Our journey began with ResourceSmart in June 2015. Since then we have worked non-stop to change actions and perceptions around environmental awareness and have built a very positive culture amongst the staff and student community. We are still reaching out to the parent and wider community.
4. What are the most significant changes that have occurred in your school?
- WASTE!!! We have implemented new recycling stations, started to collect and recycle soft plastics – through REDCycle. In our first term, we saved 2400lt of soft plastics from landfill! This has meant that we are now able to drop our weekly pickup of landfill from two pickups to one pickup!!
- Energy – our staff and students now ‘Dress for the Weather’! Less air conditioning and heaters are being turned on, saving both money and our environment.
- Water – students are more aware of how they use the water in our school. They don’t leave taps running, use the half flush button in the toilets and are all educated in the water cycle.
- We have fostered a Positive Culture of Environmental Sustainability!!
5. What are the success factors for your school that have contributed to the changes? What has enabled this to happen in your school?
The biggest success factor has been getting a ‘Team’ of staff on board. For the first 1.5 years, our science teacher ran the program by herself, which is a pretty big job! Now with 7 teachers on board, we have the opportunity to reach out to more students, embed sustainability in everything we do here at TSPS. Our teachers are keen to do more, change more, improve practices daily and to teach our students to be global environmental citizens right from Prep.
This team has been enabled by the support of our Principal Class team, who saw sustainability as an important factor in our school. Our Science teacher has 1 session a week allocated to sustainability and our working group meets every 3 weeks for 1 hour, as well as each individual continually working on small projects, such as the dress for the weather campaign.
6. What are the barriers? What would help overcome those barriers?
Our biggest barrier is time and money, like most schools!! We are a Public Private Partnership School, so this also places a lot of restrictions on us. We cannot just decide to build things like chook houses or retrofit our school, as DTZ own our building. This has positives as well! We are constantly working to improve the working habits of DTZ, such as watering only at night and using the tank water, not spraying the weeds with herbicides which could wipe out our blue tongue lizard population.
Written by Heather Buzza, Truganina South Primary School