The Eco-Schools’ programme is an international initiative designed to encourage whole-school action for the environment. It is a recognised award scheme that accredits schools which make a commitment to continuously improve their environmental performance.
The aim of the Eco-Schools’ programme is to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of the life and ethos of the school for both pupils and for staff, and to engage the wider community.
In Edinburgh, the Eco-Schools’ initiative ties in with other school-based campaigns such as Safer Routes to School, Health Promoting Schools, Enterprise in Education, Grounds for Awareness and Active Schools. The programme also links well with “Curriculum for Excellence”, encouraging cross curricular, rich learning experiences.
At Portobello High School, the Eco-Schools’ programme is put into practice by the Eco Committee, a group of pupils, staff and parents who meet monthly to develop the committee’s action plan. The Eco Team is a group of largely senior pupils who take responsibility for working on each action on a weekly basis.
Portobello High School has become the first mainstream secondary school in Scotland to achieve the prestigious Eco Schools’ Green Flag status for the fifth time. The coveted Green Flag is awarded to schools who exhibit proactive environmental work covering topics such as water, health and wellbeing, waste minimisation, litter, transport, school grounds, biodiversity, food and the environment and energy. This renewal of the school’s Green Flag status was approved following two years of Eco Committee work focusing on Litter, Food and the Environment and Sustaining Our World.
The assessors commented in particular on the pleasing way in which dedicated Eco-Schools’ work has been sustained over such a long time at Portobello. The school has now held the coveted Green Flag award for 10 years.
Since gaining the fifth Green Flag, pupils from the Eco Committee have showcased their food and the environment work at the 2012 Edinburgh Eco-Schools’ Celebration, organised by the City of Edinburgh Council and hosted by Napier University.
Portobello High School also hosted the Changeworks Make Waste History Summit in June 2012. The summit raised awareness of the issues caused by waste and helped the Eco Committees from visiting schools to come up with ways to tackle the problem. The event also included workshops for pupils; one of which, on reducing paper waste, was held by volunteers from our very own Eco Team. The summit also included speakers from Changeworks, Greenpeace and a former Portobello High School pupil, Catriona Patterson.