As we embark on our very first WE climate change event this week, we were delighted to hear from Windsor Academy Trust about their ambitious sustainability goals. This issue is such an important one for the education sector and it’s vital that we get it right for the future of our young people. We hope that in sharing best practice across our network, we can help make a difference. Read on to find out about Windsor’s work…
Windsor Academy Trust is committed to a more sustainable future and leaving the world in a better place for future generations. This vision is shared across Windsor Academy Trust’s nine schools and plays a vital role in achieving the Trust’s moral purpose of unlocking students’ academic and personal potential.
The Trust aims for students to move into a career or university of their choice and be happy, contributing citizens who want to make a difference in the world. The environment and sustainability are one way that the Windsor Academy Trust family aims to make a difference.
Carbon netural by 2030: the importance of sustainability in school life
Reflecting this commitment, the Trust has set an ambitious target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. This goal is well ahead of the government’s 2050 target, highlighting the importance of sustainability to the Trust’s children and communities, and its vital role in school life.
Students learn about sustainability as part of the Global and Current Affairs curriculum theme. Topics include recycling, pollution and sustainable development, and children are encouraged to think about the big questions on environmental issues.
Forest school programmes allow students to connect with nature and take responsibility for protecting the environment. Children have taken direct action through initiatives such as tree planting and litter picking and have supported the creation of site management plans to ensure sustainability.
As well as learning about the environment, children take an active role in deciding how to protect it through eco clubs and committees. As a result, important sustainability initiatives are put forward by students and staff, and several schools have already successfully achieved Eco-School awards recognising the environmental actions of schools and their children.
Combined with recycling initiatives and the phasing out of single-use plastic, there is a high awareness of environmental issues and direct action being taken across the schools.
Investing in a more sustainable future
Outside of the classroom, over £2.7m has been invested in school buildings to reduce their environmental impact. Funded through School Condition Allocation funding, the Low Carbon Skills Fund and the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, the work has included installing solar panels, fitting double glazed windows and upgrading to LED lighting.
These improvements significantly improve energy efficiencies and reduce the reliance on non-renewable energy sources. It provides schools with the ability to generate 600,000 kWhrs of electricity per year and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 257 tonnes every year – the equivalent of powering 31 homes for one year.
The positive environmental impact of this work and other initiatives is shared regularly with children, parents and communities to increase awareness, inspire change and demonstrate how the Trust is achieving its 2030 target. Eco walls in schools, where eco action plans and important environmental messages are displayed, exemplify this, and online dashboards showing carbon savings and how much energy schools have produced will be going live on the Trust and school websites soon.
The work doesn’t end there with further improvement works taking place at schools over the summer. The Trust will also be focusing on the environmental and ethical sourcing of goods and services and reducing its carbon footprint as it continues on its journey towards a more sustainable future.