The Eco Schools programme is an international initiative designed to encourage whole school for the environment. It is a recognised award scheme that accredits schools that make a commitment to continuously improve their environmental performance. It is also a learning resource that raises awareness of environmental and sustainable development issues throughout activities linked to curricular subjects and areas. The aim of the Eco Schools programme is to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of the life and ethos of the school for pupils, staff and the wider community.
Register with Eco Schools Scotland
It’s easy to register your school on the Eco Schools programme – just complete the online registration form. Registered schools are sent a copy of the Eco Schools Scotland Handbook, DVD and a registration certificate; your Eco Schools contact can also help with this.
Take the Seven Steps
The Eco Schools programme comprises of seven steps. These seven steps are designed to provide a logical and solid foundation for the implementation of a school’s environmental management system and they form the basis of the Eco Schools award criteria.
The Seven Steps:
- Eco Committee
- Environmental Review
- Monitor & Evaluate
- Link to Curriculum
- Involve the wider community
- Eco code
Choose from the Nine Topics
Scottish schools can choose from a menu of nine topics when implementing their Eco Schools work. Although all nine must be included in the schools initial Environmental Review, schools can then decide which of the topics they will focus on as part of their Eco Schools campaign.
The Nine Topics:
- Litter (compulsory)
- Health and Well-Being
- Waste Minimisation
- School Grounds
- Sustaining Our World
Apply for an Award
Once a school has successfully implemented the seven steps, schools are encouraged to apply for one of the three Eco Schools award levels: Bronze, Silver or Green Flag. The awards criteria are clearly set out in the handbook and the Eco Schools webpage provides full details of the criteria required for each award level. Green Flag awards are only valid for two years after they have been attained; this ensures that all schools participating in the award are keeping up all their good work. Once a school achieves four Green Flags they are awarded with the prestigious permanent Green Flag Award.
The Award Structure
The Bronze Award is the first level of the award and it is self-assessed by the school. Application forms are available on-line or from your Eco Schools contact. The criteria for this award are less stringent than the other levels and offer a great way for your school to get involved in the scheme.
This is the second tier of the award scheme and is also self-assessed by the school. The criteria are more difficult at this level but advice and guidance can be found in your handbooks, on the website or from your contact.
This is the highest award level and involves the school filling out an application form demonstrating how you think you have reached the top levels of the criteria. An assessor will then come to the school to see how your school is meeting the stipulations of the award. The assessor is looking for specific evidence of achievement within the eight topics and also that the initiative is, primarily, being led by pupils. A key element of this assessment is the committee and if there is too much emphasis from teachers or parents; if there is, the assessor may pick up on this and it could result in your Green Flag not being awarded. It is important to note that the assessor is not looking for environmental perfection, especially when applying for your first Green Flag; moreover, the assessor will be looking for evidence of willingness for continuous improvement. Further guidance can be found in your Eco Schools handbook, on the website or from your Eco Schools contact.
Once your school has achieved an Eco Schools award at either Bronze, Silver or Green Flag level, the school is entitled to apply for a one-off Scottish Executive grant of £250. This money must be used to assist the school in its Eco Schools work and schools are asked to supply information as to what the money will be spent on. Please note that due to the huge demand for this grant programme, there may be several months’ delay before a cheque can be issued to a school.
It is also worth remembering that the Eco Schools initiative ties in well with other schemes, initiatives and themes. These include Healthy Promoting Schools, Active Schools, Road Safety and School Travel Planning; and some of the other themes will overlap between initiatives, and so if you are already doing something, chances are that you could be on the way to gaining an award.