Upton Juniors success in national Net Zero competition

Young environmentalists at Upton Juniors in Broadstairs

Young environmentalists at Upton Juniors in Broadstairs have been honoured for their eco values in a nationwide competition.

The school is celebrating after coming second in the Atkins Net Zero competition that attracted thousands of entries from more than 140 schools.

All of Upton’s year 6 pupils took part in the challenge to work in groups to create a design project that will make their school environment more sustainable and contribute towards the Government’s target. This law requires the UK to reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

The girls and boys came up with a series of creative ideas and suggestions as part of their PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) topic work for the term which is Living In The Wider World.

The winning group was from Class 6G and comprised pupils Maiya, Sean, Lois and Victoria whose idea was the Natural Multitasker.

Their submission explained: “It is a special type of robot with a GPS to detect open and unused spaces of land to plant and grow trees. It can also locate and put out wildfires using a hose and water. It can collect fallen twigs and leaves to make paper instead of cutting down whole trees so we are not wasting any materials. The shell of the Natural Multitasker would be made from self-healing plastic.

The foursome said: “We collaborated really well as a team and enjoyed presenting our concept to the class. We never thought that our project would be second out of all of those different entries and ideas.”

Their efforts won the school a £300 prize to go towards a sustainable school project and the winners received a personalised certificate.

Other notable ideas included the development of aircraft powered by electricity; small solar power panel stickers for use on everyday objects such as mobile phones; and a system to collect waste food from the kitchen and send it direct via pipelines to a compost patch where it is used to grow plants for more food.

Atkins, a world-leading design, engineering and project-management consultancy, said the competition aimed to improve the knowledge of teachers and pupils about the government Net Zero targets, the impact this will have on society, and the role that today’s pupils will have in ensuring these targets are met in the future.

It also wants to engage a younger generation on all aspects of Net Zero and, in particular, the energy mix required to deliver the initiative; and encourage them to think about, and make, small changes to their lives that will have an overall impact on the target.

Teacher Izzy Reed is PSHE lead at Upton. She said the Net Zero challenge was an important part of this term’s topic work. She explained: “All of our Year 6 children were really engaged with the idea of coming up with solutions to help sustain the environment. They understand the problems of global warming, greenhouse gasses and the need to act effectively to make a real impact, even if it is small changes in their own school environment.”

Deputy Head of School Dave Walker praised the efforts of the Year 6 team. He said: “Our children in all year groups are very aware of the need to be environmentally-friendly and the topic is discussed and evaluated in a number of ways across the curriculum every year.

“We are proud of the positive environmental stance we adopt and our Year 6 group that came second in this important competition has illustrated how we are looking at ways to support sustainability in our school environment as well as on a wider scale.”


  1. Well done to the children, and to Atkins for this initiative.

    But for these children, it’s too late.
    We’ve known for decades of the looming spectre of man-made climate change; world governments have over and over again pledged to achieve various emissions targets (by dates usually decades into the future). Kyoto, Rio, Paris, Glasgow. But other than grand gestures, nothing of any consequence has been done. Indeed, at the Tory hopefuls hustings last night, not one of the 5 candidates robustly embraced carbon control policies. They all fudged about, talking about not letting green issues interfere with economic growth.

    So, children: if you want any sort of world fit to live in, you’ve got to take Greta Thunberg as a role model; you’ve got to challenge your family, your school and (when you get the opportunity) your politicians.

    One think you won’t need to worry about is forest fires: there won’t be any left.

    • Wow! Why so negative? There is scientific evidence to suggest that we have not passed equilibrium.

      These children are our future and will provide opportunities to rectify the damage humankind has caused. They do not need the negativity which could detract from their potentials.

      I take it you still use a mode of transport that is powered by fossil fuel. Don’t go around throwing stones at glass houses. Be positive.

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