Lathallan School is another SCIS school that is taking strides towards sustainability in sight of the upcoming 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).
Lathallan has a wide range of initiatives on the go - the renowned school farm, paperless teaching and setting up a website and sustainability podcast that encourages the wider community to get involved. They were recently awarded Small Independent School of the Year 2021, with judges noting their commitment to environmental education.
In this blog, we speak with Lathallan pupils and teacher Ms Zoe Jordan to find out more about their school’s initiatives and activities in the run up to COP26 this November.
What special initiatives are the school doing in the run up to COP26?
Ms Jordan - “The senior Eco Committee are setting up a sustainability podcast to interview a range of guests about climate and sustainability issues. Within the Junior and Senior school, we are continuing to plant trees around the grounds, and expand our outdoor learning spaces. Senior pupils have also set up a website called ‘Lathallan Eco Community’ to raise awareness of environmental issues, as well as encourage pupils, parents and the wider community to get involved.”
“Our school farm provides pupils with a unique experience of the agricultural processes required to produce our own food. Pupils share responsibilities in looking after the polytunnel of fruits, orchard, chickens, pigs and alpacas. Through their work, pupils gain an understanding of the processes required to produce food, as well as evaluating what sustainable harvesting practices look like. Where possible, the food that is produced is used by our catering team for breakfasts, lunches and dinners to enhance the pupil's experience of fork to table.
“The school’s ‘Green Steering Group’ are working with key influencers and businesses to develop a series of interactive workshops for pupils. Following the success of our ‘grow your own’ vegetable competition last year, this is intended to start with a ‘design a sustainable garden’ theme for pupils of all ages to be involved in.
“Another project due to commence this year is the creation of a wildflower meadow, followed by the introduction of bees to the grounds. A National Progression Award in beekeeping will allow senior pupils to potentially receive a qualification in this area and develop their knowledge around beekeeping.”
What are the pupils views on climate change and what has inspired them to get involved?
Tigerlily - “It isn’t a question of inspiration, it is a question of obligation. If we are going to change the planet everyone has to take part. It's a necessity.”
Julia - “I got involved in the Eco Group at school partly due to my love for nature and wildlife. As I've gotten older, and the reality of climate change has become more vivid, I am trying to live more sustainably in order to protect these things.
“I’m inspired by a lot of teen activists, such as Greta Thunberg or Autumn Peltier, as they have dedicated themselves entirely to living sustainably. This also extends to their ability to capture the attention of people that can make a big difference – as well as promoting a more sustainable lifestyle for those who may think their decisions are unimportant in the grand scheme of things.”
How are sustainability, climate change and environmental issues covered in the school curriculum?
Ms Jordan - “Lathallan’s nursery and junior school spend a large proportion of their day outside immersed in the outdoors and nature. Often pupils have a favourite tree in the grounds, or a favourite spot for watching birds and other wildlife. This develops a passion in pupils to care for their immediate environment. Coupled with educating pupils on the importance of protecting our planet, by senior school, students show a lot of respect for the outdoor space, and a great enthusiasm to be involved in the Eco Club and environmental initiatives.
“The school continues to move towards paperless teaching as much as possible, with the introduction of Chromebooks over the remote learning period. 4G and WiFi are available throughout the school grounds to allow outdoor learning with the aid of laptops.
“Within Lathallan’s Science Centre, topics of sustainability and climate change are covered through BGE Science, as well as our exam level subject, Environmental Science, at National 5 and Higher level. Renewable energy is a main focus within the department, and a series of talks from renewable engineers is being arranged this year to give pupils an insight into the types of careers they could pursue.”
Many thanks to Zoe Jordan, and pupils Tigerlily and Julia for their contribution to this blog.