Sustainability Week 2023
From the amazing talks with; Ben Fogle, Zakia Rashid and Henry Dimbleby to Forest School and Inter Climate Network welcoming students from local schools to participate in a Mock COP28 Climate Conference of the United Nations…and beyond…Sustainability Week was a ‘week’ full of inspiring things!
Pupil Sustainability Working Committee (PSWC)
Our PSWC stepped up again to build upon the progress they made last year and engaged our whole School community in activities and events with a positive theme of climate optimism. This was a great opportunity to have a dedicated focus committed to teaching, learning and climate action. Starting a whole new academic year with such a positive outlook, a chance to engage in conversations, consider our choices and actions and how we all impact on our communities, country and planet.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that global temperatures continue to soar and we have just had the hottest September on record, beating the previous record for September by 0.5C. It is vital we continue to learn about the climate crisis, understand the science and the realities, seek out the change we need, the changes we can all make and go actively forward with climate optimism and the incredible possibilities that can bring to fruition.
Across the week each day was packed with climate optimism, activities and education aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Zakia Rashid – Mother Ocean Blue
Zakia is a passionate conservationist with a mission to protect the underwater world and in doing so, secure a sustainable and functional surface.
We welcomed Zakia Rashid into school across the week. She delivered an inspiring assembly to our Middle School pupils, taught Year 10, Year 11 and Year 13 about coral reefs in their Geography lessons and presented a session at our Schools’ COP28 Climate Conference.
“We need to support the voices of our youth and invite them to be what they should be – a valuable inclusion to a global problem.”
Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain and the Sustainable Restaurant Association gave an inspiring LookOut! Lecture to our Sixth Form pupils and visiting Sixth Form pupils from Highams Park School.
Henry has co-authored The School Food Plan, which set out actions to transform what children eat in schools and how they learn about food. Henry spoke about the findings from an independent review for the Government called the National Food Strategy. The purpose is to set out a vision for the kind of food system we should be building for the future and a plan for how to achieve this. We have a moral, as well as practical, responsibility to consider the role of the food system.
Chris, one of the PSWC Co-Chairs said “The talk on national food waste and school catering from Henry Dimbleby was both informative and entertaining. At first, Year 12 were apprehensive to a talk on food waste and didn’t have high expectations about the LookOut! lecture. However, Henry’s charming charisma paired with relatable stories made the talk perhaps one of the most entertaining LookOut! Lectures to date. He took us on a journey of the politics and logistical nightmares that govern how he tackles the country’s issues with sustainable eating in schools and it was truly a pleasure to listen to him.”
In front of an audience of pupils from Year 6, Year 7 and Year 8, Ben Fogle was challenged by a pupil panel, made up from pupils from our Pupil Sustainability Working Committee.
It was fascinating to hear of Ben’s incredible adventures and experiences all across the world. His passion for sustainability and the fragile state of the climate emergency shone through along with his belief that we can and we will do what we need to do to take action to tackle the climate crisis.
Year 6 felt inspired after listening to Ben, who encouraged them to delve deeper into the realm of sustainability and consider our climate priorities within the school community.
Wildlife Campaigner and BBC Filmmaker Rebecca Hosking delivered a parent, carer webinar during Forest Focus. Rebecca shared her amazing story working alongside Sir David Attenborough, filming our natural landscapes all over the world. Her story was passionate and empowering. During the 80s Rebecca’s wish to highlight some of the world’s biggest climate issues was denied due to being ‘too negative’. Rebecca set out to create her own film “Message in the Waves”. This showed the devastation caused by plastics within our oceans. In her home town, Modbury in South Devon, Rebecca lead and instigated the town becoming plastic-bag-free across all 42 shops in the town. Initially she thought the town was the first in the UK, but it soon transpired it was the first town in Europe and made the news all around the world.
Rebecca’s story truly shows that anyone of us can make a difference. We have to empower ourselves by learning about a particular problem. Whether that’s plastic pollution, loss of biodiversity or air pollution. Once we learn about the problem we can act on making changes and having healthy conversations with family, friends, colleagues, etc.
Rebecca’s story truly shows that anyone of us can make a difference.
Inspired by a visit from poet Eleanor Brown and her poem ‘Scorpia Son’, students from Year 10 got to work creating their own poetry. Their first task was to find an unusual fact about their chosen creature, then to sketch or draw it, and to create a first draft of their poem. Many of the poems considered the themes of insects being vital to ecology and our sustainability, but how often they are rejected by humans as pests or something to be feared. Despite being under pressure for time, there were some interesting and thought provoking first drafts.
Our Lady’s Bird, our Lady Beetle,
Shrouded in red and black
your beauty mimics that of
painted to be cloaked in red
as deep as yours.
Your black marks,
seven in number,
count her 7 joys and 7 sorrows,
for all of Europe to see.
Meanwhile, in the Prep School, author Sarah Roberts managed to explain the intricacies of the Carbon Cycle to the youngest members of the Forest community, through her beautifully illustrated story ‘Somebody Woke Wilson’, a humorous way to raise environmental awareness through the power of storytelling.
Sarah Roberts shared a few of her books, encouraging the pupils to think about issues around carbon and litter.
Over 60 pupils from Years 10 and 11, along with groups from Frederick Bremer School and Woodbridge High School, took part in a UN COP style climate conference facilitated by InterClimate Network. Working in 16 groups, each of which represented a different nation, pupils researched their country’s responsibilities, priorities and vulnerabilities regarding climate change. They then came together to discuss how collectively they could arrive at solutions to limiting global warming. This process involved lots of negotiating, with groups realising that they needed to listen to each other’s needs and make compromises, in order to arrive at collective agreement. It was really impressive to see pupils taking their roles seriously, listening and responding carefully to each other, and making points that authentically reflected their countries’ situations.
They also learnt a lot about how these conferences actually work, as well as experiencing one of the key challenges of COPS: how to marry the individual needs of countries with the greater needs of the globe. There was unanimous agreement that more needed to be done to combat global warming, but pupils gained understanding of why many countries are unwilling to make more drastic changes. After the conference pupils listened to a compelling and very accessible, informative lecture by Zakia Rashid, founder of Mother Ocean Blue, about the importance of oceans in maintaining a healthy temperature, and about practical decisions that they could make in order to protect the world’s oceans. Pupils asked a range of thoughtful questions, and the lecture really encouraged them to think about the links between big issues and small actions.
Finally pupils were asked to explore sustainability and climate change at a more local level. They reflected on changes already made in their schools, and what more could be done. The following issues were all raised as being particularly important: schools following up statements about sustainability with action; embedding sustainability into education so that pupils had a secure understanding of why certain decisions mattered (for example recycling and meat-free days); avoiding a tokenistic approach to sustainability. It was very clear from the discussion that pupils brought what they had learned about global issues to this discussion of the local. All in all – this was an amazing event, with so many pupils participating and engaging, listening to each other and expanding their understanding of such an important issue.
Cycle Spirit and Green Commute Initiative
Cycle Spirit and the Green Commute Initiative set up in school with some fantastic bikes and e-bikes for staff to try out.
We want to encourage active travel for our pupils and staff help them to make better decisions that impact their lives, the lives of people around us and the environment.
Cycle Spirit offered appointments for free bike safety checks which staff were able to take advantage of.
Green Commute Initiative offer a cycle to work scheme with a vision to get commuters out of cars and onto any kind of bike, with the dual purpose of improving both the individual’s health and wellbeing, as well as reducing the environmental impact of pollution and congestion from cars.
Forest in Action
We had our first Forest in Action days of 2023-24 featuring sustainability-themed events and activities.
Pupils took park in an amazing array of activities including;
- Visits to The Hive to learn about the role of insulation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and about the important role of trees in the carbon cycle
- Learning about sustainable travel and food and taking part in a Sustainable Walking Tour
- Visits to Cody Dock, gardening, creating a new pathway, planting bulbs, learning about forest habitats and their importance
- Visits to Walthamstow Wetlands, investigating habitats, making log pile homes, creating natural art
- Volunteering at Lambourne End Farm and their gardens
- Kent beach clean, helping to preserve the coastline
- Fashion Enter industry workshop, focus on sustainability, reducing wastage and maximising quality.
Forest’s Sub-Aqua Club stayed in the New Forest YHA in tents powered by solar power for electricity and log burners for heat. Their first dive was at ‘Vobster Quay’ an inland lake where they learned about the importance of native species in our waters and how we impact on the environment.
Our divers returned to Swanage to get to grips with the challenge of poor visibility diving under the Pier after the week’s stormy seas had stirred up the seabed. Some pupils were able to take the boat out to dive on WW2 wrecks of the Valentine Tanks (sunk during D-Day preparations) which had developed into a new marine reefs over the last 80 years.
The divers did an underwater litter pick underneath the pier at Swanage.
It was a revelation to learn that the UK is home to over 250 species of bees and the pupils went away armed with knowledge of what they can do to help them.
Finally, thanks to the Prep School Welly Swap Shop quite a few pairs of wellies have found a new home!
Design and Technology
In Design and Technology pupils worked on designing and creating their own sustainable keyrings as well as how to make a wormery. We love how the new bespoke wormery is coming on and can’t wait until we can use it in school!
Making Biopolymers in Science
In Science pupils were learning about microplastics and how they can affect our environment.
Some pupils learned about biomimicry, based on the idea that we can take inspiration from nature when solving problems in design and engineering. Biopolymers are polymers made from natural sources.
We created a Forest School Sustainability app for pupils. The app helped them to calculate their carbon footprint, compare it to their peers, and to get to know what Forest’s plan is to be more sustainable.
Kingsley have the lowest carbon footprints on average and Year 9 are the lowest by year group!
Climate Literacy Course
Forest School has formed a partnership with Positive Planet to support the School’s pathways to achieving net zero carbon emissions. They came into school to deliver the strategic Climate Literacy Course for our Senior Leadership Team.
We had so many incredible activities happening all around school in our Prep School and Senior School.
- Prep School made collages from plastics and got out and about to enjoy nature walks
- The PSWC delivered an assembly on Sustainability to the Prep School
- Our Food and Nutrition Department focused on plant-based menus and had an interesting Grey-Oyster Mushroom growing experience
- In Art pupils learned how to make recycled paper
- The Senior School STEM Club made bee hotels!
- Our Bursary had a Low Carbon Options meeting for the Estate – part of the Schools decarbonisation plan
- The Forest School Parents’ Association (FSPA) ran a pre-loved shop
- In Computer Science pupils took part in a rolling app design online activity
- Our Grounds team and Chartwells are going to be creating a composting operation for the School, improving the way that we manage food waste
With special acknowledgement for our Pupil Sustainability Working Committee whose commitment and drive holds us to account.
If you can support our Environmental Sustainability Strategy, we would love to hear from you!
Sustainability at Forest
2 College Place
London E17 3PY
Visit us on the web at Forest School Sustainability