Pupils at Sunderland school call for COP26 action as they show world leaders how to be more sustainable
As delegates at the COP26 conference struggle to come to an agreement on carbon emissions, children at Broadway Junior School have taken their own decisive action to reduce waste and lower their carbon footprint.
Pupils have also called on world leaders at the conference to “listen to children’s views” as it is their generation who are set to be “hardest hit” by insufficient action.
To help convey their message to world leaders, Year 3 pupils devised their own posters expressing concerns about climate change and the detrimental impact older generations have had and are currently having on the planet.
With hard hitting messages such as “Save Me” and “Stop Pollution”, areas of concern depicted in their posters included rising sea levels, melting of the ice caps, plastics in our oceans and the extinction of animals.
Year 3 pupil, Rubie Procter, seven, said: “We have been learning all about COP26 and how people have damaged the planet. My key message is that as well as taking action to save people we also need to protect the animals.
"It’s important world leaders listen to children as they are killing our planet.”
Classmate Warren Peverley, eight, added: “My poster was all about reducing pollution. They need to do something to save all the animals on the planet.”
The posters are just the most recent part of an environmental and conservation awareness which is embedded in the ethos and curriculum of the school.
Children take part in a whole of green initiatives aimed at reducing waste and improving sustainability.
Headteacher Claire Johnson said: “We have our Recycling Rangers who collect and recycle all our paper and plastic waste and promote the importance of refilling and reusing bottles.
“We also have our Gardening Team who plant our flowers and crops in our plant beds and greenhouse. We grow carrots, tomatoes, beetroot, lettuces cucumbers and spring onions to name just some. We also have our own apple tree.
"All the food is used in cooking lessons with the children to make things like vegetable soup as well as being taken home to parents.”
Year 4 pupil Meelah Hiles, eight, added: “I really enjoy planting the vegetables and then picking them to eat. It’s a really nice feeling when I eat the vegetables knowing that I’ve helped to grow them.
"I also like feeding the birds and watching them from our bird hide. I really feel like I have learnt so much about nature.”
The initiative has even inspired some students to consider future careers.
Year 6 pupil Jason Whitfield, 10, said: “I go and collect everyone’s recycling bins. It’s important to recycle so we don’t have as much waste and when I grow up I want to be a bin man.
"I’m really worried about all the plastics going into the ocean and the harm it causes to the animals. I have been learning about COP26 and it’s really important the leaders listen to children.
"We are younger and so we are going to be most affected by things like climate change.”
Many of the initiatives are student led including the recent development of a compost bin to put food waste to good use.
Year 5 pupil Wez Cole, nine, who came up with the idea, said: “We had lots of waste in the kitchen from things like potato peels. Every Friday I go and collect all of the waste and put it our compost bin to make compost.
"We then use the compost on our vegetable garden to help our crops grow. I’ve been watching about COP26 on the news. If everyone in every school did something to help then it would make a real difference to the planet."
The school has looked to develop its outdoor space to incorporate as many environmental initiatives as possible. This includes the creation of a natural meadow to observe flowers and insects, a Forest School where children can learn about the natural environment and the installation of water butts to collect rainwater which can be used to water crops and reduce water waste.
The school has also enrolled on the Queen’s Green Canopy project and has this week received 100 saplings to plant around the school grounds in recognition of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 and to help offset carbon emissions.
However it’s not just the environment which has benefited from the schools green transformation.
Head teacher Claire Johnson said: “The projects also really benefit the children’s learning and help to bring subjects such as Geography and Science to life. They also learn cooking skills through the use of the crops they have grown.
"We recently had a Stone Age Day at our Forest School which also brought in History as the children prepared food and used a camp fire to cook it. We’ve really looked to improve our outdoor environment and make use of outdoor education.
"For some children they really excel being outside and learning in a practical environment. It’s not just about academic learning. It also helps to teach children skills of teamwork and communication.”
For Higher Level Teaching Assistant and project lead, Carole Summers, the initiatives have also made a positive impact on the children’s emotional and social well-being.
She said: “I’ve noticed a massive difference in the children taking part. Behaviour, attendance and social skills have all improved. It’s also about taking pride in your environment and as a result there is very little litter around the school.”