Let’s Go Zero school action:
Hollinswood Primary and Nursery School, Telford

Hollinswood Primary and Nursery School have embarked on an extensive sustainability journey, where students and staff are joining forces to make impressive strides towards sustainability. Through eco club initiatives, waste reduction, and growing their own food, the school is instilling valuable lessons about environmental stewardship.

Susanne Bearblock is the Sustainability and Eco Committee Lead and a Forest School Leader at Hollinswood Primary and Nursery School in Telford.

Explore the Let’s Go Zero map to see where else teachers, students and school communities are taking action to become zero carbon by 2030.

What are they doing in their school?

The school’s Eco Committee is made up of ten, year 6 students.  Students apply for the role and meet weekly for half an hour during assembly.  Bearblock recommends meeting at least every other week, to avoid losing student interest. 

The Sustainability Working Group of adults meets once per term to share progress and plan future initiatives.  The group is cross-departmental and represents all levels.  It includes two teachers, the school business manager, inclusion manager/gardening club lead, cook, chair of governors and a teaching assistant.  The group created an infographic of eco wins at the school to inspire further positive action and help create a more sustainable approach. 

Bearblock says that some colleagues use her as a benchmark, asking themselves ‘what would Susanne do or what would Susanne say?’ She considers this a great compliment and sees the next step as them making that thought process their own.  One teacher used to consider her daily habits irrelevant.  Years ago, when challenged about throwing away a drinks can, rather than recycling it, she responded ‘Why bother?  What difference do one person’s actions make?’  Fast forward to the present day and this teacher is now the co-lead on the school’s plastic-free program and a member of the Sustainability Working Group!

In 2022, the school won a King’s Coronation Fund grant to set up the King’s Patch.  A local engineering company provided volunteer hours to dig over the beds, ready for the Gardening Club to plant.  So far they have grown lettuce, runner beans, parsley, leeks and onions.  Kathy the cook uses these veggies as often as she can in school meals.  She always lets children know when ingredients have come from the King’s Patch and students are excited to eat food that they have grown themselves.  The group has achieved RHS School Gardening Awards levels 1 and 2 and are working on level 3.

Hollinswood was the first school in Shropshire to receive the Plastic Free Schools award from Surfers Against Sewage.  To reduce single-use plastic, they have reusable cutlery and cups and serve puddings and yoghurts in reusable bowls.  New students receive a reusable plastic water bottle and washable lunch bags are available for trips.    

Year 5 students conduct a plastics audit of the school, as well as litter pick and sort.  Year 2 students write to ask politicians to reduce the need for hard-to-recycle waxy cartons, while Year 1 write to supermarkets to find out what they are doing do reduce plastic packaging.  Students visited the local recycling facility to see how recyclables are treated and there are plans for another trip.

The Eco Committee decided to encourage energy saving behaviours in the school, and created calling cards saying: ‘Your lights were left on’, or ‘your whiteboard was turned off’, to leave after surprise inspections of empty classrooms.  They keep track of findings on a chart shared with the school, celebrating the classrooms identified as ‘energy winners’.  Year 4 students made posters to support energy saving habits, encouraging people to turn off lights, open the blinds and use sunlight, and check whether classrooms are being over-lit.  The best were displayed around school and formed part of an energy-themed assembly. 

Kathy the cook wanted to see more students enjoying what they had on their plates, so she asked them for input on how to make the menu more appealing.  Some students liked the protein and vegetable but not the sauce that came with it, so she now serves it separately.  This meets nutritional guidelines and has seen demand for school dinners go up, while food waste has dropped.  The school was the first in the borough to switch to anaerobic digestion for all food waste, sending it to be converted into fertiliser and biogas, rather than incinerated.  Food waste in the last 6 months of 2023 dropped by 50%, showing that the combined efforts of Kathy, the students and staff are paying off!

Next steps

The school is in the process of calculating their carbon footprint using the Count Your Carbon online tool and with support from Let’s Go Zero has created a Climate Action Plan.  Actions include a weekly meat-free day, more active travel, refillable glue sticks, zoned heating controls and investigating solar panels.  Curriculum sustainability content is being audited and enhanced through sharing of existing best practice in the school, as well as incorporating free curriculum resources and providing CPD to increase teacher confidence.  To increase biodiversity, the school has signed up to the National Education Nature Park and plans to plant hedgerows and wetland species.  Bottom line – this is a school well worth watching!

en_GBEnglish (UK)