This year has seen a remarkable gear change in St George’s stand on the environment both in terms of action and future development and we are delighted that our efforts have placed the school on the shortlist for ISOTY’s ‘Green Award for Environmental Achievement’ award.
Welcoming considerable support from the Governors, Head and Senior Leaders, newly appointed Bursar, James Anderson, has brought invaluable vision and has focused on defining the School’s environmental policy and practice, ensuring that this is at the heart of St George’s future planning. More broadly, the entire School community has united in delivering consistent, effective and positive improvement to its environmental footprint and sustainability.
We are committed to developing the whole School community’s environmental education: enabling our pupils and staff to lead and inform others, nurturing a strong understanding of environmental issues and a healthy culture of not being afraid to challenge the status quo. There is already an exciting sense of momentum and a desire for environmental accountability within the pupil body and at the start of the Autumn Term 2020, the Upper Sixth Prefects set up a new pupil-led Environmental Council. Their discussions to date have included an increase in recycling and the reuse of plastics, a reduction in the use of disposable plastics, reducing meat within the school menu and working on strategies to develop individual responsibility for this issue amongst pupils. The Environmental Council are also currently engaging with our local council, gathering signatures on a petition to protect local woodland that borders the school from development. Our Deputy Head Girl for 2020-21, Celia expressed her ambitions for her role leading the set up of the Environmental Council, ‘I want to inspire the younger girls and get them involved in contemporary issues such as climate change and conservation ecology. I want to start an environmental council so everyone at St George's can join in and do their part.’
St George’s aims not just to educate within the classroom, but to develop awareness and proactive engagement amongst staff, parents and the local community through existing, and developing, outreach programmes. Staff are being encouraged to look into the detail: to minimise the waste of resources, eliminate single-use plastics and reduce paper usage and photocopying. Parents are being encouraged to consider the use of shared transport to minimise travel to school, and turn off car engines while waiting to collect their daughters.
The St George’s Environmental Strategy also focuses on limiting the School’s negative impact upon the environment and improving the quality of the estate and the surrounding environment. The School site is now entirely powered by renewable energy sources and contractors and suppliers are being selected with their environmental position specifically in mind. The beautiful and generous 30-acre School site is being developed to increase biodiversity: an arboretum has been planted at the school and will be increased in the years ahead, swallow and bat boxes have been located on the side of the Swimming Pool building and flower beds are full of plants that encourage biodiversity, emphasized this Summer Term by the planting of two wildflower meadows. Plans are forming to maximise on solar energy using our southern aspect to better effect and this will focus on the introduction of more solar panels to increase our power generation. We are also looking at how to evolve the school's fleet of minibuses to be more environmentally friendly.
The development of an Environmental Strategy, strongly embedded within the School’s strategic planning, will enable St George’s to put environmental sustainability at the core of everything that it does, and thus contribute towards a better future for all.