By Peter Barnett
While world leaders are planning the protection of the planet at the high profile UN COP26 climate change summit, a quieter eco revolution is under way at Ramsgate Arts Primary.
In recent years children and staff have pledged to do all they can to improve the sustainability of their environment while embracing the need for change on a global basis.
And RAPS held its own Eco summit with a day-long awareness initiative for children to be further informed and understand more about what they can do to environmentally safeguard the future.
The school’s elected Eco Guardians – children of all age groups who will help spearhead awareness in school – have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and world leaders with a simple plea to make sure all the plans discussed at COP26 take effect as soon as possible.
In the open message written on behalf of the school, they say: “We are watching all of the news from the COP26 meetings and we are discussing what you all say you will do to help our planet and its people, the creatures, our oceans and our lands, and our climate change problems.
“We are proud to tell the world leaders that we are doing our best every day and we held our own special Eco Day summit. The idea is to improve on the important lessons we have had for many years about caring for our planet and our community such as recycling, litter clearing, reducing the use of plastic in our school, using electricity wisely in school, and protecting our wildlife.
Listening to the progress and promises you are all making gives us hope for the future – for our families, our friends and for generations to come.”
The range of educational initiatives during eco day included a sculpture competition for class groups with the winners receiving a weather station from Cummins Power Generation at Ramsgate; the arts team working with children and parents to draw a forest with eco tape on the main hall walls to illustrate how trees make a positive change to our lives; an initiative with the nationwide EcoKids Project to collect around 250 bags of quality unwanted clothing instead of it going to landfill in exchange for money for outdoor learning resources; and an information assembly with Thanet council about how to tackle litter problems locally.
Head of School Nick Budge said: “These are vitally important lessons for life that our children are learning every day, and they will make a difference by embracing the crucial need for environmental sustainability and integrating it into their lives.
“Our Eco Day was a focus point to assess how far we have progressed in recent years with the school’s eco strategy. It heralds the start of even greater efforts by children and staff at school, at home and in the community.
“Our children are enthusiastic and determined to safeguard the precious world that we share through collective responsibility.
“At RAPS our message is simple – caring for the environment never stops.
Recent RAPS initiatives have included litter clear ups in Ramsgate town as well as in their own school environment; and becoming a Plastic Clever School under the national Kids Against Plastic campaign to reduce their use of single-use plastic polluters – cups and lids, straws, bottles and bags, cutlery and crockery.
They have also embraced ‘no technology’ days across the whole school (unless children have specific writing needs) to reduce the consumption of electricity and for pupils and staff to consider the amount of screen time they could potentially be exposed to.”
Another environment friendly idea is the national Walk on Wednesday scheme, where children are encouraged to walk to school or be dropped off and walk some of the way.
Meanwhile the environmental theme continues to run throughout the school’s curriculum and the books children read and art projects often support the green awareness campaign, such as the successful Ocean Challenge awareness project that highlighted the damage that dumped rubbish causes to marine life.
Throughout their time at RAPS, pupils have the opportunity to learn about the environment in each year group ranging from recycling and litter, through the impact of humans on the environment, deforestation, climate change, pollution conservations, fair trade and renewable and non-renewable energy.
Deputy Head of School Hanna Beech explained: “Our teaching of environmental issues is cohesive and progressive. When our pupils leave us in Year 6 they have developed the knowledge and awareness they need to make informed choices about how they might contribute towards a thriving community.”
Diversity, ecology and the environment have also been ongoing themes from collaborative community projects by RAPS with The National Gallery, Turner Contemporary, Dreamland Margate, plus visiting artists and arts leaders in music, drama and dance.