Bredon Hill Academy Eco School Committee
The Garden and Rural Eco Action Team at Bredon Hill Academy is built on a solid core of members representing all areas of the school and local community.
At weekly eco committee meetings representatives from each form attend a meeting with the eco coordinator to discuss activities, ideas, projects and plans. This information is then taken back to the classroom for further discussion and the ideas are re-evaluated at the next meeting.
The eco reps recruit pupils in their form to be responsible for various activities. For example, we have energy monitors who monitor and promote electricity conservation, waste monitors to monitor and promote recycling, species monitors identifying and compiling a database of species in our school grounds and habitat building clubs creating a wide range of habitats to encourage biodiversity in our wildlife area.
Pupils acting as gardeners work extremely hard at lunchtime and at a weekly after school club to maintain and improve our school grounds and environment, including caring for the school guinea pigs. They help to provide a haven of tranquillity at lunchtimes, create a space suitable for use in lessons, grow award winning fruit, vegetables and flowers in addition to a harvest to share with the school community.
The most enthusiastic and knowledgeable pupils who are able to share their skills effectively, act as head gardeners and manage the garden activities.
A few of our eco reps have been nominated as Eco ambassadors, pupils who have consistently completed eco tasks, for example writing articles about eco school activities, speaking in assemblies or at governor meetings or representing our school and communicating our ideas to the wider community.
The pinnacle of our year is the annual walk to the elephant or Banbury stone at the summit of Bredon hill. This seven-and-a-half-mile expedition summarises and celebrates our ambitions and ethos and every member of our school community is involved in the event.
The nine key environmental topics
We assess how much water we use by looking at the water meter and reducing unnecessary water consumption. We have water hippos in all our cisterns to reduce the amount of water used in toilets, and most of our taps automatically turn off after use. We have installed rain water collection butts which are used to water the gardens and top up our ponds.
Severn Trent Water provided a number of informative assemblies which explained how easy it is to conserve water, in addition to generously funding a wildlife camera to monitor diversity in our wildlife garden. They have agreed to manage the water works on our site without spraying to complement our organic gardening.
Bredon Hill Academy is located at the foot of Bredon Hill, one of the most important wildlife sites in England, with a diverse range of habitats including areas designated -
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the European Commission Habitats Directive.
National Nature Reserve.
With areas managed by -
DEFRA 'Environmental Stewardship' schemes.
Our school site is managed and used with consideration for the many species we share our space with. By preserving historic features and building new habitats we have created a rich resource to study and enjoy.
Our work to improve the diversity of habitats and encourage biodiversity has been recognised with Awards from Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust.
We carry out an energy audits as part of our Environmental Review and set targets for reducing unnecessary energy use through our Action Plan. As part of the (EU) European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), all state schools are required to display a certificate which rates their energy use on a scale of A – G .Our rating is currently B and we are working to improve We take part in a “Turn it off” campaign, and monitor our smart meter online at eco meetings. We have installed a large solar panel to provide power to our new building and are investigating more alternative sources of energy.
Eco reps visit the boiler house to read the electricity meter and see how our school is heated, we would like to install a smart meter in a more visible location in the school so pupils can more frequently monitor our usage and carry out live energy monitoring.
To improve we will purchase a smart meter, improve our rating and lower our consumption by encouraging extra vigilance and investigating a whole school reward for achieving our targets. We are also interested in making a display of interactive alternative energy examples for example a solar fountain, wind powered and interactive feature in our Design Technology seating area.
We ensure that we all consider the environmental, social and economic impacts of the decisions that we make on the local and global community, in the future as well as for the present. We take part in the village open garden weekend, opening our school gardens to visitors from far and wide and enter the local produce show.
Our eco reps have taken part in joint eco projects with Ashton first school and hope to invite other feeder schools to visit our site.
Through our International Schools we maintain links with school eco groups in other countries. We collaborated with the international school project to install a weather monitoring station which we will use to monitor and compare climate changes, we now have a link to the data on our website.
We are collaborating with our Austrian partner school NMS St Michael in a three-year project to encourage learning outside and promote further education and careers in Green industry.
We regularly have visitors and volunteers from the local community including parents, governors, local gardeners, farmers and representatives from green industry and nature charities. In addition to the helpful advice and work done, this raises the profile of our work and gives examples of possible future careers and study.
We have achieved the woodland trust gold award and a representative visited our wildlife area and joined us on our enrichment hill walk where we found elm trees and a crested newt in the woods. The Cotswold area of outstanding natural beauty organisation sent a representative who joined us on our whole school hill walk to the summit of Bredon Hill and returned to give advice about improving our meadow area.
We are very proud to have achieved level five of the Royal Horticultural society school gardening awards. We found their framework a good way to measure our development.
We were recently visited by a representative from the Send a Cow charity who spent a whole day teaching us about the difficulties faced by gardeners in challenging situations and the benefits from the help given by their organisation. We are looking at a way to help this charity with their work.
We took part in the RHS space rocket program where 10,000 UK schools had the opportunity to engage their pupils in a UK-wide live science experiment to contribute to our knowledge of growing plants in space. We correctly guessed that the plants which grew slower had spent a month on the International space station.
To improve we would like to strengthen and expand our connections and improve our communications with other school Eco groups. We would like to arrange more collaborations and continue to invite relevant speakers to school assemblies and events.
Bredon Hill provides pupils with structure and consistency and opportunities for social engagement in addition to emotional support and the provision of a supportive, safe environment that gives pupils the confidence to learn. We actively promote health through the curriculum and in the way the school is managed both in its culture and ethos.
Our eco team influence the quality of the meals served within the canteen by providing fresh herbs, salads and fruit from the garden and allow staff and pupils to pick their own or taste prepared seasonal produce at lunchtimes and cookery lessons. We encourage pupils and staff to be more physically active both in and out of school, and to be equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that provide springboards to future long-term health. We contribute to our schools Healthy eating status
We use heritage varieties in our garden so that we can save seed to share with anyone who is interested in growing, we also take cuttings when our herbs need trimming to promote gardening.
Pupils help to manage our school grounds, spending lunchtime gardening and barrowing materials. We are rewarded with a harvest of fruit and veg shared with the school community. School cookery sessions access our herb garden and seasonal produce. Our fruit trees are growing into worthy specimens which provide a bounty of fruit, one apple tree has consistently won the heaviest apple category at our village produce show.
Our Eco Committee are working with the sports department to design and make a new half mile nature trail to enable all members of the school community to keep active and informed about the species we share our site with at any pace. This in in addition to the orienteering that they run in sports lessons.
The Eco Committee received a grant from the Duckworth Trust to install a recycling bin in every classroom and staff areas to promote a whole school approach to recycling. This combined with a campaign to raise awareness in class and at assemblies, has been extremely successful and we are now focusing on reducing paper waste and recycling more food related items.
We took part in “The big tidy up” campaign from Keep Britain Tidy collaborating with Ashton first school. We also organise daily litter picks and surveys to identify problem areas and find solutions. Our Eco Committee raised funds to purchase litter pickers and bag holders to make litter collection easier.
Our kitchens are working to replace all single use plastics with environmentally friendly and compostable alternatives.
At Bredon Hill Academy, we promote outdoor learning and provide the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the environment and sustainable development.
Our school grounds are used to introduce pupils to the natural environment and biodiversity in a practical way. We offer a safe and potentially exciting facility for outdoor education that can complement classroom-based activities. Every subject makes use of our diverse site as a valuable teaching resource in addition to encouraging conservation of habitat.
Pupils work to improve a wide variety of different spaces to be used recreationally and also in lessons. When designing improvements to our school grounds we consider how we can enable outdoor learning, including the ability to seat a whole class and ensuring our school grounds are in a safe pleasant state at all times.
Current projects include, improving our DT industrial garden and the creation of a new International feature in our friendship gardens which was designed and constructed collaboratively with our Austrian partner school NMS St Michael.
We invite visitors to enjoy our site at open days and events including during the Village Open Garden weekend in June, and welcome expert advice as part of our commitment to improve our school grounds.
Each form has a pocket microscope and binoculars to investigate, analyse and record the species on our school grounds, which also provide inspiration for literacy and art, and extensive sports facilities.
Our school grounds include many different areas which are managed with individual plans to offer outdoor learning spaces for the whole school community.
We have over half a mile of boundary trees and hedges surrounding our large playing fields which are used for active play and lessons. Pupils help to manage our two formal gardens and the wildlife garden every lunchtime, at enrichment afternoons, form times and at the after-school gardening club.
We have a diverse range of species on site and are passionate about preserving and improving habitat.
This area is home to a wide variety of species and habitats including some protected by UK and European laws.
The Swamp is natural clay and the level of water will rise and fall. The rocks and native plants provide habitat for newts, aquatic mammals, dragonflies, aquatic and other insects including a large wasp nest. The plank can be used as a seat if dry and depending on wasp activity. The large hollow log provides a habitat for hedgehogs. There is a maintenance path behind the swamp.
The Pond is lined with butyl rubber covered with a protective matting and stocked with ornamental plants. The deep end of the pond is edged with granite and rough slate from Wales and Cornwall. These rocks are not to be touched and define an area out of bounds. Pupils must stay a distance away from these rocks. The shallow end of the pond is indicated by smooth tumbled slate (a by-product from roofing tile production). This area is suitable for careful low-level investigation and interaction. The pond is home to pond skaters, whirligig beetles, frogs, two species of newt and insects including mayfly, damselfly and dragonfly. The many insects and spiders which live in the surrounding rocks attract small birds. A life ring, reaching poles and a net are attached to the oak tree nearby. The jetty can be used for seating up to a defined point and is designed to be used by staff needing access to the deep end for sampling or retrieval.
The Dipping pond is a sandpit style water feature for pupils to manage, suitable for hands, fish, and solar powered features. This interactive area can be used more freely and experimentally in contrast to the preservation area of the main pond.
The water vole ditch is fed by a spring that runs under our school, this is deep enough to attract aquatic mammals, which had young here this summer; it drains away under the field to a ditch by the badger sett. No interfering or disruption is allowed in this area..
The Sand pit is used for recording the tracks of visiting wildlife. The sand needs to be raked flat frequently but can be used for other activities. Pebbles, shells, and other natural objects can be added artistically to this interactive area.
The Bird hide is obscured but not hidden, creating a good vantage point for quiet observation of the area. Here are bird boxes, hedgehog houses and log piles which provide habitat for insects and hedgehogs.
The Fire pit is a safe area for small well managed bonfires to dispose of small quantities of garden waste which is unsuitable for composting.
The Compost wall with green bins for making good compost for the garden and black bins for weed disposal. The wall features the BHA colony bird box for sparrows, bat box, bee sand castle, treasure display and an interactive bughouse with a space allocated for each form to manage. The logs under the bughouse are from our old garden bench are inhabited by lesser stag beetles and the comfrey plant which attracts pollinators, is used to make plant food. The green bins provide a useful surface for items. See posters for composting rules.
The pet enclosure contains animals which enjoy being spoken to and listening to stories. Dandelions, grass, fruit, and bread can be safely fed to all the pets but doors must not be opened or closed. The cages should be approached from the front only and animals not chased or picked up.
The central woodpile is our oldest habitat and is home to hedgehog, snake and wrens and is surrounded by a mix of wildflowers beneficial to pollinators.
The Wildlife corridor runs from the bottom of the wildlife garden to the badger sett and Mr Taylor’s bonfire, this is the route for animals to access the area and for wheelbarrows to safely travel when disposing of garden waste to ensure no spillage on the sports pitches. The area will be mowed annually to encourage wildflowers.
Behaviour- The garden provides an oasis of calm for wildlife and visitors. It contains delicate habitats and many hazards. Noise and activity must be kept to a minimum with no running, skipping, jumping, climbing, throwing, shouting or habitat disturbance. Timid beasts, bird watchers and others enjoyment of this special space must be respected. This is not the place for games, nagging or confrontation. Those enjoying the area should appreciate the work done by pupils who work hard to maintain it.
Learning opportunities- The area requires constant monitoring of species diversity. We record the trees and other features and add to our site maps including our Minecraft map. Recording the variance of conditions in the area enables evaluation of necessary improvements. The introduced rocks provide interesting examples of different geology. The area provides inspiration for art, sculpture, photography, poetry and prose.
The Quiet garden
In 2009 we made a garden at the bottom of our drive behind the Design Technology building, in a disused area of our school grounds using a small grant to make the area safe, secure and provide a framework for our growing. This garden was designed to be used by the whole school as a haven of tranquillity, an area to relax at lunchtimes, a space for outside lessons and to grow produce for our school kitchen and cookery room. We planted a soft fruit area and filled the raised beds with many vegetables. This garden was used to start our gardening project and our journey towards our level five RHS School gardening award.
A weekly after school club was set up to maintain and improve the school grounds all year round, whatever the weather. In heavy rain and the dark of winter we sorted seed, made new plans, labels and signs. This has continued and is the backbone of our gardening team, the pupils who attend take part in the necessary care and presentation of the site and are responsible for more adventurous tasks like tree pruning and construction.
The area is open every lunchtime for all pupils to enjoy the peace and quiet or investigate the wide range of species we plant and attract. At lunchtime, pupils volunteer to look after the gardens and wildlife areas, pupils who help once a week are invited to become gardeners and receive badges in recognition of their work. Gardeners work together, learning many skills such as pruning, planting, digging, raking, hoeing, harvesting, seed sowing and collection. Watering using captured rainwater is encouraged and we have built a new area to manage our composting in an orderly manner. Some of the gardeners take care our school pets and monitor visiting wildlife. The most enthusiastic and knowledgeable pupils, who are able to share their skills with other pupils and act as role models, are promoted to head gardeners. A head gardener must have seen the garden in all four seasons so that they have an understanding of the big picture and to make the process less competitive and more naturally achieved. We work together to provide various habitats, growing fruit, vegetables, flowers and creating an enriched environment.
We installed plastic ‘Link A bord’ raised beds which require no maintenance and have been used to produce quality produce which is shared by our school community and pets. Salads grown here are served in our school dining hall and available to add to packed lunches.
Our extensive fruit area produces an abundance of berries, currants, apples, pears and apricots on well-established trees and bushes. The harvest is available to all pupils who responsibly share and enjoy the sun warmed crop at lunchtime, any excess is given to our school kitchens who transform it into delicious crumbles.
We enter the local produce show and have won certificates at each event, including many “best in show” these are proudly displayed in a dedicated display cabinet along with our other gardening certificates. This event is well attended by the local community and this raises the profile of our work and the high standard we achieve. We came fourth in the pumpkin competition so we borrowed the winning pumpkin entries to display in our school so that we could learn more about how to grow such giants.
The area offers seating for a whole class and shade in our exotic planted patio. Bird and bee boxes are filled every year and fledglings enjoy the quiet environment for flying lessons. One of the bird boxes has a camera and we were able to watch the whole story of our sparrow family this year.
Visitors have been welcomed to see this garden as part of the Ashton Under Hill Open Gardens event in June, every year since it was completed. Although the quiet garden is beautiful and tranquil it became apparent that we needed to extend our gardening program with a larger area where every pupil could be inspired in a less restricted environment which led to the redevelopment of our Friendship gardens.
Our potting shed has a display of pupils work inspired by the ‘Lost Words’ book by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris which was donated to our library by our Garden and Rural Eco Action Team. We are hoping to improve the outbuildings to create an all-weather outdoor learning space.
The Friendship gardens
As our quiet gardens became more popular we decided to give every pupil a chance to produce their own individual ideas so we designed and made a cross curricular allotment garden with an individual plot for every class.
An overgrown area was prepared with space for eighteen raised beds. The eco committee constructed ‘link a bord’ kits during a meeting and gardening club pupils filled them with soil conditioner. Each form was invited to use the space to reflect the pupils’ ideas and teacher’s subject.
We offered the plug plants we received from our level three RHS award which had arrived with perfect timing, in addition to seeds, cuttings and plants we had grown at gardening club. Every form had their own plans.
In 2017, for the first time we added our new friendship gardens to the features available for visitors at the Ashton Under Hill open gardens event with pupils from each class. Each plot is designed, planted and maintained by the pupils in the form and represents the subject of the teacher.
Pupils enjoy the ownership of this plot where they have complete control of the design and maintenance, they prepared the area, planting and weeding, barrowing and building raised beds. They made signs, decorated the friendship tree and made a photo gallery of our school gardens. Many pupils visited on the open days.
The pupils have benefited from the freedom and responsibility for their plot. They enjoyed the challenge of preparing for visitors and were proud of the visitor comments and feedback. The gardening pupils shared their knowledge and skills with their form and collaborated and compromised.
The Open Garden event was a great success, with over 1000 visitors to our village gardens. The event raises money for local organisations including the church, social centre, both village schools, the WI and the brownies. We had visitors from all over the country and shared seeds with many.
Our gardening is now truly integrated into the whole school with the majority of our 480 pupils involved. Our STEM and international schools often use it as a focus for projects, with STEM day focusing on a cross pollinated bean that we have produced, in addition to testing our soil and water conditions. We enjoy gardening and are proud to have the support of our community and outside organisations.
The area is promoted as a place for pupils to collaborate and work together. Friendship benches are used for pupils to chat to their peers and the atmosphere is welcoming. Often pupils have to work out how all their ideas can work together in a compromised design.
The newest feature in the area is our keyhole compost garden, inspired by the work done by the ‘Send a cow’ charity who visited to talk about the difficulties facing gardeners in challenging circumstances. Their representative spent the whole day overseeing the build which involved Garden and Rural Eco Action Team pupils collaborating with our Austrian partner school to transform over four tons of materials into a rockery edged garden ready for planting the following day.
Playground and Design Technology seating area.
This area is currently in the process of being redesigned as it is used by the whole school every day and subject to the most wear. The undercover seating area and growing space is useful and our Eco committee are looking at ideas to update and improve this area.
School playing fields and courts
Our school playing fields are available for pupils to use at lunchtime if the weather and ground are dry. The area is enclosed by mature hedging and trees, and has a central wildlife corridor to provide access across our site through the wildlife garden. The central area is managed primarily to provide conditions for a wide range of sporting activities, but this also attracts many species including large flocks of birds looking for insects.
This year we saw fox cubs enjoying the wide open space while the mother watched from the corner of the field. Deer and hares frequently run across, even during the school day and other mammals often use the space.
Reduce – We look at how we can change processes so that less materials are used or change consumer habits so that less wasted material is bought. This is something that we will start to focus on more now that our recycling has become so successfully adopted by the whole school. We are working to eliminate single use plastics from our dining hall, replacing with eco alternatives.
Reuse – We encourage people to choose goods and products that can be used again. We look at alternative uses for unwanted items. Scrap timber is used to construct bug houses and compost heaps, we use scrap paper from the recycling bin for notes, old tractor tyres have been planted with flowers and used as seats, food buckets from the kitchen are used as garden trugs, old kitchen pots and pans are used as water bowls for our animals and wooden spoons have been used as plant labels. We also use recycled materials where possible.
Recycle – We ensure that waste is processed and made into another product wherever possible. Composting is also recycling: the nutrients in organic waste are processed and returned to the soil to help more plants to grow. We compost fruit and vegetable peelings from the kitchen and DT room and are starting to extend this to packed lunch waste. We also recycle plastic, metal and glass in our green bins and all of our ink cartridges. Our clothes recycling is a huge success and has enabled the financing of many eco projects, we collect spare clothing and fabric in our dedicated recycling bin on the turning circle in front of the school. We are now offering a facility to recycle batteries and are looking at a solution for the cooked waste from the kitchens.
Our aim is to use a school travel plan to encourage the whole school and community to think about the environment, promote sustainable travel and lead fitter and healthier lifestyles in order to improve health and development. We are concerned with improving road safety and reducing traffic congestion and pollution. We requested that bus drivers and visitors turn off their engines when idle, which has resulted in an improvement in air quality, particularly at the end of the day.