At the beginning of the new academic year in September, Cockshut Hill Technology College in Yardley, near Birmingham, will be granted the internationally recognised award of Eco School status. The award has stemmed from the efforts of a teacher with a belief in environmental awareness who decided to steer his school into the route of sustainability.
Kevin Hull, the subject leader for design and technology (DT), has always had a keen interest in sustainable and environmental design. On arriving at the college three years ago, he quickly made the decision that moving his department down the route of sustainability was going to be his mission statement, and it was while researching ways of teaching his pupils to be environmentally sensitive that he learned of the Eco Schools award.
Eco Schools is a programme for environmental management, certification and sustainable development education. It offers an opportunity to make environmental issues an integral part of the life of the school, and uses curriculum material and ideas for projects and events.
The scheme helps to create a shared understanding of the implications of running a school in a way that respects and protects the environment.
The Eco Schools process also encourages teamwork by involving the whole school - including pupils, teachers, non-teaching staff and governors - together with members of the local community such as parents, local authorities, the media and local businesses.
Realising that the award would not only benefit the students by raising their awareness of environmental issues, but also the school by changing its overall appearance, Hull took the idea to the principal of the college and, between them, they worked out a proposal for developing such a scheme. From this initial meeting, an action plan was developed and subsequently presented to the senior leadership team, the governing body and the school council.
"When I arrived at the college I was determined to try to implement a sustainability strategy," says Hull. "Moving towards sustainability meant changing the projects we deliver to our students and then changing our own performance.
"It would be hypocritical to tell our students to be environmentally sensitive if the school itself is not setting positive role models, so we started by sourcing items for the school that are sustainable, trying to buy in materials from sensitive and managed sources."
The project works by implementing the seven elements of environmental management: litter, waste, energy, water, transport, healthy living and school grounds, and are centred around an eco committee.
An environmental review is carried out and an action plan launched, followed by monitoring action and an evaluating process. It culminates in producing an eco code. It is intended to be a flexible process, and can be accommodated widely within the educational sector.
The school also has to make a successful application for one of the three Eco Schools awards: a bronze certificate, a silver certificate or a green flag.
The school must be able to show that it has gone some way towards establishing each of the seven elements before applying for one of the three levels of award - th