5 Star School

Balnarring Primary School have long been a school who are aware of environmental problems and have been actively caring for their local environment for many years. With this background Balnarring Primary decided to join the Sustainable Schools Initiative at the end of 2004 and have speedily moved through the process completing all modules by October 2006.

Heather Goddard, the sustainable schools coordinator for Balnarring Primary says that “the benefits of becoming a five star school relate to both the process & the actual accreditation”, and that some of these benefits are:
• An increased level of involvement from staff in environmental issues as a result of becoming involved in the Sustainable Schools Initiative
• Greater knowledge & skills for students as they are involved in all aspects of the program
• An increase in sustainable practices across the school as they worked towards accreditation
• An increased level of awareness & involvement by the whole school community as sustainable practices were introduced
• Greater networking abilities have been developed with other Peninsula schools & groups such as CERES, which has been invaluable as they worked to develop more innovative & interesting ways of engaging the whole school community
• A level of recognition for the work they have undertaken, such as the development of the Balbirooroo Community Wetlands, which recently received the Landcare ‘Young People Caring for Land’ Award which provides much encouragement for those who have worked so hard on these projects
• A sense of pride for the school community, particularly the students, as the school are recognised for their sustainability practices
• A greater understanding of the social aspects of sustainability as students studied issues related to sustainability. Initiatives introduced in the school such as the recycling of items like corks & glasses, which raise funds for other groups, and the selling of fair trade/organic East Timorese coffee through the school office adds to the schools sense of social justice.
Balnarring Primary has been extremely successful at incorporating sustainability into the school’s curriculum. The Primary School’s Curriculum Leaders have, after discussions with sub-schools, developed a Prep – Year 6 environmental program, based on local resources, elements of sustainability & the VAEE matrix, which ensures that all aspects of sustainability are incorporated into the curriculum. All grades regularly use the Balbirooroo wetlands, either as part of formal curriculum or as an opportunity for incidental learning based on seasonal changes and events etc. All children are involved in the revegetation at Balbirooroo, as part of week day working bees where they work with their buddy grades & families to plant indigenous tube stock. The curriculum plan showed in the table below is a great example of how to incorporate sustainability into the everyday running of the school process.

 

Year Level
Themes covered
Units in which themes are included
Length of time spent on these themes
P
Wonderful wetlands
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (waste)
Classroom Waste
Flora and Fauna of the wetlands
Environmental issues: school
English
Maths
Science
Humanities
ICT
5-6 weeks
1
Wonderful wetlands
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (waste)
Lifecycles
Environmental Issues: Balnarring
(native animals and pets)
English
Maths
Science
Humanities
ICT
5-6 weeks
2
Wonderful wetlands
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (water)
Our changing wetlands
Environmental issues: Mornington Peninsula
English
Maths
Science
Humanities
ICT
5-6 weeks
3
Wonderful wetlands
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (water)
Our changing wetlands
Environmental issues: Mornington Peninsula
English
Maths
Science
Humanities
ICT
5-6 weeks
4
Wonderful wetlands
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (water)
Endangered Species local/National
Environmental issues: Mornington Peninsula
English
Maths
Science
Humanities
ICT
5-6 weeks
5
Wonderful wetlands
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (energy)
Caring for the land (communities, local, state & federal governments)
Environmental issues: Australia
English
Maths
Science
Humanities
ICT
5-6 weeks
6
Wonderful wetlands
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (energy)
Around the Block (Urban Environment)
Environmental issues: Australia
English
Maths
Science
Humanities
ICT
5-6 weeks

 

Balnarring Primary School has undertaken many projects as part of their sustainability journey, and some projects stick out more than others for their rewarding qualities. Some of the most rewarding have been:
• The development of Balbirooroo Community Wetlands & its associated woodlands & ephemeral wetlands, which has seen a huge increase in biodiversity on the site (including significant wetland bird species), protecting & expanding an area of remnant Swamp Paperbark which is a threatened vegetation type, an opportunity to provide an active ‘hands-on’ curriculum resource for the students of the school & the creation of a wonderful community-based project which has shown people that we can make a difference.
• The development of an effective & coordinated waste policy, which now sees far less waste going to landfill & is becoming the impetus for more innovative & challenging policies as they attempt to ‘close the loop’.
• The development of an ‘Animals in the School’ program, which has seen a range of indigenous & non-indigenous captive bred animals introduced throughout the school to further educate students & their families about the needs & intrinsic value of all species to a sustainable world.
Achieving 5 star status has not stopped Balnarring Primary school’s ambition to become a more sustainable school. Some of the projects the school is currently undertaking are:
• The ongoing development/revegetation of the Balbirooroo site & school grounds
• Development & revegetation of a new ephemeral wetland as a suitable breeding area for the endangered Growling Grass Frog
• Published a range of curriculum materials & plant & bird guides to Balbirooroo
• Wetlands website (http://www.balnarringps.vic.edu.au/wetlands/index.htm) established & maintained
• Tanks for storm water collection for toilet flushing to be installed over summer; run-off water from tanks to be directed to wetlands; toilet upgrades; no area of the school grounds is watered; ‘Water Warders’ in each classroom monitor taps etc to ensure no wastage; run-off water from bubbler taps collected in buckets & emptied on to garden areas rather than entering sewerage
• Participate in the Water Watch program
• Water Learn It Live It program utilised in school
• Participant in Melbourne Water’s Frog Census
• De-lamping & installation of skylights has been undertaken; ‘Power Rangers’ in each class room ensure lights are switched off when not required; computers are automatically switched off at the end of day; planting of deciduous trees where necessary as ‘green’ cooling
• Food scraps are collected for worm farms & chooks; lunches & morning teas are eaten inside to reduce litter; composting and litter collection occur each Friday with results to be graphed & monitored; ‘No Wrappers Wednesday’ for lunches across the school; paper, cardboard, glass, plastics and cartons all recycled; printer cartridges recycled; collection point for corks & eye glasses for recycling and green waste is recycled at working bees
• BEAT kids – Balnarring Environmental Action Team, involved in a range of activities relating to sustainability within the school
• Sales of fair trade organic East Timorese coffee through the school office
• Community education/involvement events such as their recent Spider Spectacular
• Refurbishment of school’s Environmental Studies room.
And then the future holds:
• Continuation & improvement of current projects
• Further improvements to toilet efficiency – installation of dual flush toilets, new cisterns
• Investigation of a scheme to treat grey water in reed beds constructed in wetland area
• Development of propagating area to produce indigenous tube stock of local provenance
• Expansion of ‘No Wrappers Wednesday’ to more days of the week
• Enhancement of Environmental Studies room area as an outdoor learning site
• Investigate participation in Airwatch
• Purchase of recycled paper in 2007 for school use
• Use of environmentally friendly cleaning products throughout the school from 2007.
From all of these initiatives that Balnarring Primary School has implemented, they have been able to achieve the following results in each of the four Sustainable Schools Initiative modules:
• Biodiversity: 20% increase in indigenous species on site.
• Energy: 10% reduction in usage.
• Water: 75% reduction in usage.
• Waste: 50% reduction of waste to landfill.
By Balnarring Primary School|2017-11-06T17:13:26+10:00April 24th, 2013|0 Comments
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