With the UK recently hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), The Downs Malvern Preparatory School set out to create their own initiatives to tackle climate change. The school’s active, and very committed, ECO Team met regularly to plan their third annual earth event.
On the back of COP26, the pupils decided to run an earth week, rather than a single day as previously planned. This decision allowed for greater depth of discussion, a wider variety of cross-curricular activities, increased parent participation, improved fundraising results, a greater variety of assemblies and guest speakers, and most importantly, more time for reflection and debate. So, what made The Downs Malvern’s Earth Week 2022 so successful?
This beautiful Prep school, nestled in An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at the foot of the Malvern Hills in Colwall, feels a million miles away from climate change, hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires. Plastics, glass, and paper are recycled efficiently and effectively, with little rubbish found on the paths of this idyllic village in rural Herefordshire.
However, despite the natural beauty and high level of earth awareness, the staff at The Downs Malvern, are working relentlessly to ensure the children are; well informed about climate change, actively discussing solutions, taking responsibility and fundraising to support environmental charities.
Earth Week 2022 started with a full house, with House Parents, John and Sarah Warlow, welcoming an increased number of ‘Wake and Walk’ flexi boarders. This fun activity, supported by various ECO events each evening in the boarding house, helped increase awareness and reduce traffic at school during Earth Week.
The children enjoyed Yoga by candlelight, fashion design using recycled materials, an ECO themed fashion show, movies about climate change and late-night moonlight walks. “It’s wonderful to hear the children talking so passionately about climate change and understanding that they can make a difference, they have some phenomenal ideas,” said John Warlow.
On the first morning of Earth Week, there was a voluntary run to school from the top of the hills with staff and pupils participating, a great alternative to a sedentary drive to school! It was a wonderful start to the week and certainly set the tone. Families car shared, walked, cycled and got the train to school, making every effort to reduce carbon emissions.
Every assembly that week focused on an environmental topic, teeming with guest speakers presenting information about clean energy developments, recycling, and ocean pollution. The school ECO Team chose to raise money this year for ocean clean-up initiates, and so the theme throughout the school was ‘Spectacular Seaside’. Pupils dressed up as sea creatures, seaweed, shells and much more, with clear guidance that costumes had to be made from recycled items from home and not purchased through those oh so popular websites.
During the week there were healthier, daily snacks and whole school vegetarian meals with locally sourced produce from Farm to Fork. The school ECO Team also organised a very popular ‘Swap Shop’, to encourage re-use of unwanted items. This really was a whole school initiative, with staff truly supporting earth awareness throughout the curriculum; from writing letters to the ocean and poems about climate change in English, to investigating single plastic statistics in Maths, and creating giant jellyfish and squid in art from recycled materials.
Towards the end of the week, the whole school participated in a 3K sponsored ECO run around the school’s beautiful grounds, dressed up in snorkels, armbands, mermaid tails and shark fins, ready for the sea!
Sarah McDonnell, prep schoolteacher, who leads the ECO Team at The Downs Malvern, said: “This year the children raised more than £1500 for TeamSeas and are now busy planning Earth Week 2023, when they will raise money for TeamBees. Our pupils are certainly well-informed and educated about climate change, and most importantly fully aware about the need to make a difference and truly embrace change in their own lifestyles. Current human behaviour is simply unsustainable.” The ECO Team are also currently in a takeover bid for the school stationary shop and working towards banning all single use plastics from the school.
With the growing urgency of protecting the environment, The Downs Malvern is committed to continuing to educate our pupils on climate change. We will continue to strive to change our world for the better by raising awareness, reducing our own carbon footprint, and fundraising for important environmental projects.
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