Case Study

Nungurner is a rural school with a current enrolment of 14 and a teaching staff of 2. It is situated on the beautiful Gippsland Lakes and neighbours the beach-side towns of Lakes Entrance and Metung, popular for sailing, fishing, surfing and high-quality restaurants and cafes. Nungurner is a 3.5 hour drive from Melbourne and is part of a thriving arts community. It is also close to extensive forests, national parks and the snowfields. Framed by natural bush and farming land, the school has a large and spacious site which includes natural bush, vegetable gardens, a tennis court, a large oval and a recently installed play ground.
Established in 1924, historically the school catered for the founding farming families but is now working in partnership with families from broad and varied backgrounds from the local area and neighbouring towns.

The application to be a part of the Resource Smart Schools program was completed in 2009, after which the Principal moved on to another school. An Acting Principal was at the school for Term 1, and then I, as the new Principal took over at the beginning of term 2. The initial PD that was delivered was to the Acting Principal and Teacher. I knew little of the program until Term 4. However, in Term 3 we implemented a whole school inquiry into “How we affect the environment?” This was a great opportunity to tie together many existing practises and programs and develop and refine new operations in the school with the input of the students.

The full effects of the implementation of any of the programs that we have implemented will not be evident for some time but I am sure will be significant. Benchmarks and target were set late in the year and there have been a few special circumstances which may affect the validity of data. The use of resources may be up and down because in October 2009, the school was reduced from 2 to 1 classrooms, and then in July 2010 increased to 3 classrooms. The result of this will be an increase in heating and cooling and lighting costs. There was also an increase in waste as we cleaned a lot out before we moved into our new rooms. After our solar panels were installed a new meter was required which has seemed to increase the cost of our power and the monitoring system has not been working properly. We also had an ongoing problem with our power company, who for 10 months of 2010 continually issued and retracted and updated bills. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has now changed our electricity supplier.

We have made a significant reduction to our waste going to landfill and what we pay for our waste to be removed. We have halved the number of 240L bins (from 4 to 2) that are collected weekly (and we should be able to reduce this further), and we no longer pay for recycling.

We now have a bin system which includes Chook food bins, compost bins, recycling bins in all rooms and garbage bins. Our local council will not provide us with free recycling but donated a bin to us that we are able to take our recycling to the tip ourselves for free. We have also begun to implement “Rubbish Free Lunch” once a week during Term 4, with the idea that it will increase to 3 or 4 days during 2011.

Since we only have tank water and therefore no meter it is difficult to monitor our water usage. We have increased the awareness of productive water use and monitor water waste but we have not set goals to reduce our water use because we want to expand our current vegetable gardens. The gardens were set up in 2009 and expanded in 2010 and now there are plans to expand further and develop a Community Garden where members of the public can come in to the school and share the garden and resources. This project is being organised by the Nungurner and Coast Community Action Group, with which we are developing a very strong partnership. We also work with the local Nungurner Landcare group and have done plantings with them and are currently in negotiations with them about several projects that may be mutually beneficial

For the students at Nungurner there have only been a few technical changes such as Rubbish Free lunch and new bins but the change in awareness of environmental issues has been dramatic. There were lots of activities that were going on at the school and needed to all be brought together and the kids needed to know why they were happening and have some ownership over what was going on.

The school was awarded for our advances in sustainable practises at the East Gippsland Network Awards night. Our leadership in this area has not only been recognised within the education system but also in the local community where we are central to the communication of local issues such as solar power and biodiversity.

I look forward to continuing the work that has already begun and approaching 2011 with clear direction about where we are going.

By Nungurner Primary School|2017-11-06T17:19:37+10:00April 26th, 2013|0 Comments
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