Hello and welcome to the December 2016 Green-Schools Ezine, our last of this calendar year.
Dublin City Travel Forum
On Wednesday November 16 a Green-Schools Travel forum was held in Pearse Street Library for schools in the Dublin City Council area. Eight schools (19 pupils and nine teachers) attended on the day including the presenting model school, St Mary’s NS, Sandyford. The schools got lots of ideas from St Mary’s about how they approached the Travel theme and their ongoing work on sustainable school travel. Following the presentation, pupils took part in fun activities such as travel snap, travel artwork, and travel action planning which resulted in each school preparing their own mini-action plan to take back to their school to get the ball rolling on the Travel theme.
Celebration for Galway Walking Bus parents
Parents, teachers and students from nine Galway City and Oranmore schools were invited to a celebration hosted by An Taisce Green-Schools in the G Hotel on Wednesday, November 23. The schools took part in a Green-Schools Travel Maintenance Pilot Project which focused on schools who had previously achieved the coveted Green Flag award for sustainable travel: walking, cycling, scooting and using public transport on the journey to school.
Holy Trinity and St. Michaels Boys N.S. have a very successful walking bus from Ballybane Church to the two schools. The walking bus is an established method of getting pupils to school in an active and environmentally friendly way. Parents and pupils meet at Ballybane Church and then pick up more pupils and parents on the route to school; usually they have up to 45 pupils and four parents taking part on a daily basis.
Scoil an Linbh Íosa, Galway City Centre and St. James N.S, Bushy Park both have successful walking buses from separate park ‘n’ stride locations at Galway Shopping Centre and Bushy Park Church. Parents and pupils meet in the morning and walk to school as a walking bus.
Continue reading and view more photos from the event on our website.
Inaugural Global Citizenship Marine Environment Conference
Students from 17 schools gathered in Dun Laoghaire on Tuesday, December 6, for the first annual Green-Schools Global Citizenship Marine Environment conference. 370 students and their teachers attended and exhibited their work on marine environment awareness at the conference,. where they heard from a variety of speakers on topics including phytoplankton; overfishing; microbeads; and plastic islands.
Two schools, Scoil Bhríde, Lisdowney and St. Clare’s Primary School, Harold’s Cross, presented their work on climate change and plastic islands, at the event. The two schools were chosen following in-school workshops delivered by Green-Schools staff.
The keynote address was delivered by Jo Ruxton, producer of A Plastic Ocean, a documentary examining the plastic islands, or “gyres” in our oceans and their affect on marine life and human health. The documentary was recently screened in Sligo IT during Science Week.
Included in the day was a presentation by students from Lismore Comprehensive School, Craigavon, who have done extensive work on microbead awareness and a presentation sent by students from an Eco-School in Madagascar, who completed a beach clean-up recently.
Continue reading and view more photos (and videos, soon!) from the conference on our website.
The Great Plant Hunt
The nationwide pilot of The Great Plant Hunt project was launched in Ireland in September. Participation was open to primary schools currently working on the Green-Schools Biodiversity theme; over 150 schools registered to take part.
The project is an international endeavour; a joint initiative of Toyota Motor Europe and the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). The campaign includes practical activities based on resources developed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and on resources developed by Green-Schools. The overall focus is on biodiversity with a particular emphasis on learning about plants and their associated species. It is being run in 15 countries throughout Europe, including Ireland. This academic year, we are working with the younger classes in primary schools; Junior Infants to Second Class inclusive. The same age group (5-9 year olds) is being targeted in all participating countries across Europe.
Pictured above: at Camolin National School, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford a student looks for insects and other invertebrates under a newly installed ‘Bug Trap-door’
To get the ball rolling in September all participating schools in Ireland carried out awareness surveys to see what students already knew about biodiversity and to see if they could recognise six native Irish species of plants and animals. Since then, the respective classes have started work on getting to know more about these six designated species. All participating schools have been encouraged to spend as much time as possible out of doors, exploring the habitats and wildlife on the school grounds and taking nature walks.
“We have enjoyed studying the Great Plant Hunt species cards. [A student] brought in some holly to show the class. All the boys kept an eye out to identify holly on their way home from school. We were interested to learn that only the ‘girl’ holly plants have berries.”
Picture 2: Monastery CBS, Tipperary Town, Co. Tipperary – Species studies
Feedback from the participating schools has been overwhelmingly positive. The photographs here demonstrate just some of the activities that have been taking place in schools as part of this project.
“The pupils of the Junior Classroom, [are] looking forward to attracting a variety of garden birds to their newly erected bird feeders on the Crack Willow Tree. Within days of this photograph being taken, the keen young bird-watchers had spotted some robins, blue tits, a pied wagtail and chaffinch busily feeding. Nearby, a Mistle Thrush fed on the few remaining brilliant red berries of the Guelder Rose shrub, whilst a Blackbird foraged the chilled ground in search of a worm!”
- For further information on The Great Plant Hunt project visit the Eco-Schools website.
- Read more about the schools' work on the project here.
Cycle Right launches in January
Cycle Right, the national standard for cycle safety training, will launch in early 2017. Green-Schools has been involved in the development of Cycle Right and will part-fund schools who undertake the Cycle Right course through an accredited training provider from January 2017.
The programme has been developed by the Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport in association with Cycling Ireland, the RSA, Green-Schools and other stakeholders.
The goal of Cycle Right is to provide an excellent standard of cycle safety and skills training so that trainees will develop the competence and confidence to cycle safely on the shared road network. In addition to this, adhering to the Rules of the Road and communicating clearly and consistently with other road users will be a key aspect of the programme. Delivery of training will take place in a fun and enjoyable environment, all the better to enhance the learning experience.
Prior to the formulation of Cycle Right, there was no designated standard of delivery in Ireland. This meant that duration of course, content and quality of delivery likely varied from area to area. Cycle Right will offer:
- Best-practice in cycle training, derived specifically for our unique environment
- Quality of delivery and an on-going quality assurance system to ensure consistency
- Guaranteed ratio of qualified, registered trainers to work with your groups
- A goal of on-road training as a core part of the programme
- Individualised feedback on defined outcomes for participants
- Resources for schools, teachers and parents/guardians to facilitate follow up and support to training
If your school is working on the Travel theme please contact your Green-Schools Travel Officer to find out how you can avail of the new training.
Kerry's Christmas WOW
St Oliver’s National School is a rural school located in the village of Ballylongford in North Kerry. They started the Green-Schools Travel theme in September 2015 and they have made a great effort to promote sustainable travel to and from school. They organised a Christmas WOW (Walk on Wednesdays/Weekdays) last year and as the pictures show it was a great success. All the staff, parents and students took part in their Christmas WOW. They were all walking through the village dressed up and everyone was singing Christmas songs. There is a shop in the village and everyone came out to see what was happening. One man came out of his house and asked Angela Wall, their Green-Schools Travel Education Officer where the Christmas party was!
It was a great morning for the whole school with students, staff and parents taking part in a Christmas walk to school. The local community certainly got a great surprise and treat with all the singing, laughing and fun! Everyone in the village was looking forward to St Oliver’s National School’s Christmas WOW this year, which took place on the December 16.