The Green-Schools Programme is an international environmental programme designed to teach good habits to children and parents about the environment. It is a partnership between An Taisce, the local authority and the school.
We are currently working towards our fifth Green Flag and the theme we are focussing on is Biodiversity. Biodiversity is our life support system. It is the variety of all life forms on Earth, from the tiniest bugs living in the soil to the butterflies in your garden, the plants they feed from, and the biggest whales in the sea. The biodiversity theme looks at increasing awareness in schools of the importance of native plants, animals and habitats.
We are now in year 2 of our mission to achieve the biodiversity flag. The Green-Schools Committee is the driving force of the programme and it aims to direct and address all phases of the Green-Schools programme. Our committee is made up of two students from 3rd to 6th class, Mrs. Doyle, Jennie Casey (our parent representative) and is led by our coordinator, Mrs. Yates. The committee meets about once a month to discuss Green-Schools issues and to implement initiatives. Here is a list of its student members for 2019/2020:
6th Class: Philip and Thomas
5th Class: Reef and Jessica
4th Class: Phoebe and Hugo
3rd Class: Jasmine and Dusan
Year 1 of the Biodiversity Flag – 2018/2019
- Last year’s committee conducted an environmental review and a biodiversity awareness survey across the whole school.
- GKNS participated in The Great Plant Hunt programme, aimed at raising awareness of local flora and fauna. The results of our survey were so impressive that we won a number of biodiversity workshops for the school.
- We compiled an initial habitat map to record the improvements we hope to create in the school grounds for the wildlife it supports.
- We revisited previous Green Schools themes and established links between these and our biodiversity theme.
We introduced the Eco-brick project, an initiative aimed at reducing the amount of soft plastic ending up in landfill. Plastic bottles are packed with soft plastic and, once they reach a certain density, they can be reused as building bricks.
- A number of parents helped us to identify all of the plant species found on the school grounds.
- We set up a walk and talk nature walk around the school and introduced more bug hotels and bird houses/feeders.
Year 2 of the Biodiversity Flag – 2019/2020
We are continuing with our Eco-brick project and, as of February 2020, we now have 69 bricks.
- That’s 47.151kg of plastic that is not ending up in the ocean.
- We are conducting a survey on birds around the school for Bird Watch Ireland and the green schools committee has resumed their informative presentations in assembly. Every day we are visited by jackdaws, hooded crows, magpies, woodpigeons, herring gulls and common gulls who come to clean up the crumbs in the playground after lunch. There are a number of coal tits and blue tits living in the hedging along the school boundaries and we have a resident robin who visits the feeders beside the school shed. On a good day, we may even spot a sparrow, a pied wagtail or a pair of collared doves.
A pond tidy up and makeover was scheduled for December 2019. The aim was to attract more wildlife to the pond and check in on our resident newts. Mrs. Doyle pulled in the expertise of Jennie Casey (June, Róisín and Leo’s mum and our parent representative on the Green Schools Committee). Jennie did amazing work, in harsh weather conditions, during December and now has the pond area organised and ready for classes to visit in the Spring. During the tidy up, Jennie cut back all the shrubs surrounding the pond, removed the dead leaves from both the surface and bottom layer and split the Water Iris so that it is no longer blocking the opening to the pond. This will make it easier to clean the pond on a regular basis, allowing our family of newts to thrive!
As part of the tidy up, Jennie created a small bank of twigs, leaves and some logs for overwintering creatures.
Can you see the spider webs on our bug hotel? It has provided a home for many little creatures over the winter months.
Look who’s hiding!!!
A large family of snails has made its home behind our bug hotel. They are keeping nice and cosy, huddled up together, during the chilly season.
- Martin, our caretaker, is helping to construct a wildlife corridor leading directly to the pond area. This will improve biodiversity in this area of the school grounds. We hope that all the classes will enjoy observing the newts, mini beasts and beautiful flowering shrubs during the warmer months.
AUTUMN LEAF PILE
- During the autumn months, children from Fifth class and Second class created a leaf pile between the fencing at the background. This little habitat will hopefully make the perfect “hedgehog hibernacula”, providing warmth and insulation for some slumbering creature over the winter period.
- A number of parents have taken on the job of labelling all of the plants and trees growing in our school habitat. They are currently beavering away creating beautiful silver birch labels that will be attached to the plants with a piece of wire. The name of each species will be burnt onto the wood, thus eliminating the need for plastic labels!
- In other news, Jennie Casey and the Senior Infants teachers are starting up a forest school with the Senior Infants children. More details to follow. Watch this space!
- Classes continue to participate in a variety of workshops given by visiting experts and these range from the OWLS programme to bee workshops to Sea Explorer safaris to the Ecological Gardener and more!!!
The driving force of this project is the Green-Schools committee which is made up of two pupils from 2nd – 6th Class, led by Ms. Perrott. The committee meet once a month to discuss Green-Schools issues and to implement initiatives.
6th Class: Charlotte and Shane
5th Class: Thomas and Irish
4th Class: Laragh and Zach
3rd Class: Sam and Jack
On the 5th October 2017, the committee organised a travel action day to promote and increase the number of pupils walking, cycling, scooting, park ‘n’ stride or carpooling to school. The morning started off with the relaunch of the walking bus from Killiney Hill. There was a fantastic turnout with over 50 children taking part. Our new travel officer, Ally Menary came along for the walk too.
A funky feet competition was held where everyone was encouraged to wear funky footwear.
Orlaith Maguire from the Road Safety Authority gave presentations to each class which were excellent and tailored to the level of each audience from Junior Infants to 6th Class. The pupils were given audio-visual displays to reinforce the safety messages which covered pedestrians, wearing safety belts, wearing high visibility clothing and obeying the rules of the road.
Click on the link for information on travelling to school safely
GKNS has been part of the Green School Programme for a number of years resulting in three Green-Flag awards for the school. This year we are working towards our fourth flag – the travel flag. The aim of this flag is to encourage pupils, parents and teachers to walk, cycle, scoot, use public transport or carpool, instead of using the private car on the school run.
Well done to Mark Maybury in 4th Class who won the slogan competition. Keep a lookout for his slogan around the school!
If school’s not far then don’t use the car!
A walkability audit is an audit of the pedestrian routes to school. This involves walking the routes and making note of what is good or bad about a particular area such as path surfaces, poor lighting and unsafe crossings. In January, the Green-Schools committee conducted a walkability audit with our travel officer.
Click here to view our audit report
Christmas Walking Bus
There was an excellent turnout for our Christmas themed walking bus.
Action Planning Workshop
In November, our travel officer did an action planning session with the committee. They came up with some fantastic ideas to encourage more people to come to school in a “green way”.
We examined the results of the travel surveys that were carried out in October. The results show that 74% of children travel to school by car, 20% of children walk to school, 1% cycle to school and 5% park and stride. The results can be seen on our noticeboard.
Walking Bus Launch
On 20th October, we were delighted to welcome Camilla Tunney from DLRCoCo Green-Schools to officially launch the walking bus. There was a fantastic turnout with over 60 people taking part. Everyone wore their Maths Hats that they made during Maths Week.