Forty directors work with sixth form pupils at Olympic borough school to achieve internationally recognised eco status

Sixth form pupils at a school in the London Olympic borough of Waltham Forest have spent two intensive days working with more than 40 directors of Kier Services in an innovative project to devise a comprehensive strategy to deliver sustainable environmental improvements in the school and the wider community.

Heathcote School and Science College, which was built and is maintained by Kier, is using Olympic year to begin the process towards achieving the internationally recognised Green Flag status as an Eco-School. The project with Kier is designed to create a lasting legacy and reflects the Government’s objective to make London 2012 the ‘greenest Games ever.’

Over two days of intensive workshops pupils worked with the directors on Project Pride to devise a series of action plans, tackling green energy, recycling, bio-diversity and healthy living that will be delivered throughout the 1,000 pupil school over future years.

The aim is to drive lasting cultural and behavioural change that will improve the environment within the school and throughout the borough. Three directors of Kier, which provides street cleansing, refuse collection, parks maintenance and facilities management services in Waltham Forest, will continue in mentoring roles to the pupils.

The Green Flag award is an international standard that guides schools to permanent environmental sustainability and good practice.  Benefits include money saving, curriculum relevance, community links, practical school improvements and recognition and positive publicity.

Kier Services directors worked with the 16- and 17-year-olds to produce project plans for nine key areas specified by Eco-Schools – energy, water, biodiversity, school grounds, healthy living, transport, litter, waste and global citizenship. Each group of directors and pupils devised a programme to improve performance in one particular area, based on an environmental audit on the school before the exercise.

At the end of the two days, they presented their schemes to a judging panel including Heathcote head, Zoe Cozens; Kier Group executive director, Ian Lawson and actor Jotham Annan, who was educated in the area before taking his place at RADA. The panel voted for the three most innovative projects. They were:

  • Best idea: Healthy Living –  featuring the creation of a student app providing advice on safe walking and cycling routes to school, diet, exercise
  • Best presentation: Water – including a scheme to harvest rainwater for a vegetable garden as part of a bio diversity project and to use for flushing toilets to reduce water usage
  • Best exhibition stand: Litter –  including the creation of a Mr Litter ‘eco-warrior’ character to encourage re-cycling and discourage litter dropping

Local Chingford MP, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, visited the project.  He praised the initiative and invited pupils to make their presentation at the House of Commons to the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman.

He said: “I was delighted to see so many students taking part in such a great initiative. They all seemed very enthusiastic and the more awareness we can create about environmental issues in schools, the better.”

All the plans will be used to develop a cohesive strategy for Heathcote to work towards achieving Green Flag status, the top Eco-Schools award, symbolising excellence in the field of environmental activity. Pupils will report on Project Pride for the BBC’s School Report in March.

It is also intended that the Heathcote project will be made available as a blueprint for other schools around the country to adopt if they wish.

Heathcote is already closely involved with the Olympics as 80 of its pupils have auditioned for roles in the opening ceremony being planned by the Oscar-winning film director, Danny Boyle. They expect to hear soon how many have been selected.

Heathcote is a High Performing Specialist School for Science and Applied Learning and its sixth form quickly proved popular with parents and pupils when it opened last October with an initial intake of 115 A Level students. The latest Ofsted Report ranked it as ‘Good’ and it has a Schools Science Partnership with The Ogden Trust.

Zoe Cozens said: “In both our academic and vocational activities we seek to involve business so that pupils gain a real and beneficial understanding of the world of work and what employers will expect of them. It also helps them develop skills and attitudes such as leadership, confidence, presentation, and problem solving.

“We are determined to develop a sustainable environmental strategy for the school and this important project with Kier is aimed at changing minds and behaviours as well as enhancing learning for all our pupils.

“The fact that the borough is hosting the Olympics with the pledge to make them the greenest Games ever, makes the project particularly relevant.”

For Kier, the project is part of its on-going corporate responsibility and director development programme designed to enhance leadership skills through engagement in challenging community tasks outside normal day-today responsibilities.

Kier Group executive director, Ian Lawson, said:“This is an exciting and engaging project with valuable learning and development opportunities, both for pupils and directors, and is part of our ongoing corporate responsibility commitment as a business. Kier provides a range of services within Waltham Forest and at a time when the eyes, not just of the nation but of the entire world, will be focused on London, it is entirely appropriate that we should be embracing a project that can deliver sustainable benefits in line with the legacy of the Games themselves.”