Case Studies from West Dorset

Sharing and learning:  Eco-Team Exchanges

August 2015

To help share ideas and good practice among Eco-Schools, we challenged members of the CLS Eco-Schools network to do an exchange with another school to find out how they've been taking action for the environment.  Here are some of their stories:

Bridport Primary and St Mary's CofE Primary

Claire Legg from St Mary's Primary reports:

I visited Sally's after school Green Team club and had a tour of the school grounds.  She met some of the parents who help run the club, the caretaker and children. 
Sally visited my school and looked at the allotments, gardens, Forest School and met with some of the HOME group people and cooks.

We discussed how we could involve more members of the wider community and actively approaching people we think would be able to provide contacts that could be useful.  We also talked about outdoor learning and Forest Schools.
We talked about incorporating all things Eco into an already packed curriculum and how children can be more responsible and active in the day to day running of routines, booking in regular half-termly assemblies and giving children more of a voice.

We picked up some useful ideas from each other:

  • • Thinking about how to delegate jobs and involve members of the wider community

  • • Having regular assembly slots

  • • Linking curriculum areas

  • • Allowing children to see a process i.e the growing of food and then cooking, eating and composting

  • • Sally was interested in the kitchens at St. Mary’s and how food from the gardens is used to make the children’s lunches.

I have now changed how I run my Eco Club by electing Representatives from each Year group.  This operates more like the school council in that they feed information back to the class and are responsible for deciding things that their class would like to work on to make their class more sustainable.  I am trying to make the children responsible for the general running of this.
Since meeting with Sally I have also booked in regular slots in assemblies to update everyone on what the eco club has been doing.

Symondsbury Primary and Southill Primary

Three of our Eco-Committee members went to Symondsbury Primary School to exchange ideas and pick up new ones. It is always interesting to go to other schools, even if you do things well, you can always pick up new ideas or improve the way that you do things.

Symondsbury are working with the South Dorset Ridgeway Project and are developing a  Forest School. They are a Rights Respecting School making lots of links to global citizenship.

The children were very excited to be going to another school to look for other ideas. They especially liked the garden area where there were lots of exciting things to engage children, such as: a Giants chair; Giants footprints; a puppet theatre; a small pond is being created to attract wildlife, planting areas and they thing they liked the idea of  the most was the campfire!

Inside the school were some brilliant ideas created by the children.

Year 6 had thought of 100 things to do to change the world. What a fabulous idea! They have completed about 15 of them so far.

There were rubbish awareness posters around the school, and red and green stickers on light switches. The red ones aren't to be switched off, but if there is a green sticker on a light switch, any of the children can switch them off if the room is empty.

As a result of our visit, we will be looking into the South Dorset Ridgeway Project and looking into aspects of Forest Schools.


Damers First School and St Mary's Catholic First School

It would have been difficult for the two Eco-Teams to visit each other so Damers and St Mary's did their exchange by email.  Each Eco-Team came up with 10 questions they could ask the other to find out more about what they do in their school and sent their answers by email. 

Damers school said:

We learned about how another school has gone about their eco work, like what has gone well in their school seeing if we can use any of their ideas.  We liked St Mary’s idea of doing spot checks on lights being off in different rooms around the school and sharing eco news at every assembly.

We think St Mary’s liked our plastic bottle greenhouse and our Eco-Code (right, click to enlarge).”

St Mary’s School said:

We learned that Damers are doing lots of the same sort of things to us, like monitoring their electricity use and doing growing and gardening in the school grounds.  It was good to find out that other schools are working towards the same goals. 

It would be nice to keep in touch with our exchange school, so we could let them know about any new things that we do.”


Dorchester Middle School and The Prince of Wales School

In June, the Dorchester Middle School Eco-Team paid a visit to the Prince of Wales school, where they met with Year 3 and members the Eco-Team.  During the afternoon the children talked about what we had achieved over the year in our Eco Schools programme, did a learning walk around the Prince of Wales School grounds, made bird feeders, Eco-Team badges and water-powered plastic bottle rockets! 

Mr MacBean of Prince of Wales school said:

"My Eco-Team learned a simple but effective way to make bird feeders.

We enjoyed the group-work and social activities which children given a “real” opportunity to give a presentation of what they’d been up to over the year relating to Eco-Schools.

DMS found out about what we’d been doing and hopefully got some good ideas! "


Weymouth school exchanges eco-tips with Kenya!

March 2015

Thank you to Helen Hazell, HTLA at Southill Primary for this wonderful report about her recent Kenyan exchange visit:

Recently, I was asked by our Kenyan  link school to set up an Environmental Club, which is the equivalent of our Eco Schools. Also, to teach them how to use their ‘waste’ products. This was quite a challenge, as I wanted to use resources that are readily accessible. Our link school in Kenya is a poor, rural school at the base of Mount Kenya. Recycling is not something which is done in these areas. Rubbish tends to be burnt on the sides of roads, or just discarded into the local environment.

I needed to be able to teach them to re-use their  waste without the need for tools, glue, paint etc.!

After much research, I decided upon knitting bags from plastic carrier bags, using size 9 needles; beads made from old t-shirts and pompoms like we make from wool but theirs were to be made again, from scrapped t-shirts.

We spent an afternoon with four of the teachers teaching these skills to the environmental club, most of whom are boys and the children were from standard 7 and 8,  so, their ages ranged from about 12-15.

The children knew how to knit already, and were naturals at the weaving for making the rug. They loved the pompoms as they could be used as balls too, as they were quite weighty.

Our Eco-Committee is going to swap ideas, hints and tips with the newly launched environmental club in Kenya. The children here were so interested in the knitted bags, I have started a little club here too!

Big Energy Saving Week at Damers First School.

January 2015

Thanks to teacher Edd Moore for this report from Damers' energy week, and well done to everyone for getting involved:

The week started with the Eco reps leading the assembly and giving the school some useful energy saving tips through a play, poem and pictures.  Every year group did their own experiment about renewable energy.

Year 3 looked at solar energy and connected the panels to buzzers.  Year 1 made kites and tested which material were the best to use.......


Year 2 looked at wind power and   the arguments for and against wind farms. We then made some windmills of our own and went outside to test how fast they could spin. Here are some quotes from the children during the week.

“Wind power doesn't make bad fumes."

“Wind power is special."

“Wind power helps make electrcity."

“Make your own wind power."


Year 4 made their own windmills and looked at alternative ways of making energy. Each windmill had different sized vanes. They tested them outside to see who had the better working windmill.

Foundation children were learning about how to save energy in the school and at home by turning the lights and TV off and not leaving it on standby, shutting down computers, turning down the heat and shutting the door. They wrote their own Energy saving promises which they hope to stick to!

At the end of the week we had ‘Switch off Friday’ where we tried to save as much energy as possible. There was lots of friendly banter between staff and even the caretaker got involved wanting to turn the boiler off so no one could have a hot drink. That did not go down well.....

It seems to have carried on this week with children consistently reminding their teachers to turn off lights and computers. 

Early findings are showing we saved 50% of our normal consumption which relates to a saving £10. If we had a switch off every week during the school year we would save £400. We are all now thinking what we could spend £400 on within the school! 

Winterbourne Valley CofE VA First School

Our Eco-School journey to Green Flag – a presentation to the Dorchester Area Community Partnership.

26th September 2013

We run a fortnightly eco club - Eco Warriors - for any child who would like to attend, but all the children, adults and visitors who come to our school are involved in some way whether it is recycling their paper, composting their apple core or watching the house martins return in spring! It has become a way of life for our school through both the taught curriculum and the general ethos.

Read the full presentation here.


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