Southwark Climate Action Schools

Southwark Borough Council in London declared a climate emergency in March 2019. Since then, they have announced their strategy and action plan that explains how they will deliver a sustainable future for the people in Southwark, with an ambitious target to become carbon neutral by 2030. 

The Southwark Climate Action Schools Network was set up to strengthen the council’s plans by empowering schools to work together to tackle the climate emergency locally. Meeting termly, with the support of the council, schools encourage each other to reduce their carbon emissions and protect biodiversity. To name a few things, they have: 

  • Engaged 33 schools locally with numbers growing. 
  • Supported schools to complete feasibility studies for solar panels. 
  • Encouraged schools to collaborate with other eco-education organisations. 
  • Local schools have collaborated on shared projects such as community gardens. 

Why is it important?

“Climate Change is such an important topic just now and will have an impact on our student’s future. We are looking for ways in which we can elevate its presence in our curriculum and get the whole school community involved.

With the current cost of living and energy price increases, it is important for us as a school to look at ways to reduce costs and energy use, so money can be spent on other resources. Meeting with other schools to discuss Climate Change will hopefully provide opportunities to save money and educate our children on how to save the planet.”

Emma Beattie
Deputy Head at Victory School

“It’s exciting to launch Southwark’s Climate Action Schools so we can listen, learn and help our schools to achieve their ambition and take action on climate change.

Southwark’s schools are the key to our future and getting this passionate group together has shown us that there is a massive appetite from schools and students to work together to tackle the climate crisis.”

Councillor Jasmine Ali
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for
Children, Young People, Education and Refugees

What impact has the project had?

Feedback from school staff has been really positive, telling Southwark Council that the network has provided a space where they can learn about what other schools are doing and how they can improve their own approach.  

It has also helped the council to recognise areas where more support needs to be given and created a platform to engage with other local borough councils who are working on similar networks.  

What made the project successful?

Key to making Southwark Climate Action Schools successful is that the structure of the network has been set by schools. The council had an initial scoping meeting where schools provided feedback on what level of engagement would be possible, and what form involvement would best take.  

Like in most areas, school staff in Southwark have limited time to put towards non-classroom activities such as this network. With this in mind, the council worked with schools to find the best format for them.  

Additionally, with their understanding of the funding challenges schools face, where possible, the council aims to cover costs of programmes that help tackle the climate emergency. Providing this support has increased the number of schools involved in the network.  

Lessons learnt

A key lesson Southwark Council have learnt in setting up a school climate network, is that forming relationships with schools as soon as possible is key to its success. Showing schools that being a member of the network directly benefits the outcomes of the schools’ agenda, and ensuring schools know that support is available from the council, is also vital. 

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