Eighteen months ago our school was a barren paddock with the odd red gum tree. As part of the development of the school, we paid for the installation of a comprehensive irrigation system that will water the many plants that we hope will flourish in the new school environment. We planted numerous shrubs and trees, most of them being water tolerant, with the assistance of many of our community members. The latest audit carried out by one of our students indicated that about 543 small plants and 28 larger trees have been planted in the last 10 months. As a part of the Sustainability Forum we are implementing and in conjunction with the Darebin Creek Management, we are incorporating a planting session when another 150 shrubs will be planted around the perimeter of the school. An arrangement with Darebin Creek Management will see them come out and work with all the students in our school to plant about another 150 plants.
Epping Views PS Biodiversity Project
Establishing a real sustainability culture where students live sustainability is a difficult task. These students have come from many different schools with many different ideas, practices and beliefs about sustainability. In an attempt to develop this culture we have undertaken the following:
Action Teams – All students and teachers are involved in an Action Team. The meeting times for these teams are written on the Term Planners and everyone is required to attend them. These are held for about an hour during school time. The teaching and learning that occurs in the biodiversity is based on the curriculum areas identified in our SEMP plan that have not yet been established in the school.
Continual – Students continually see and are reminded about sustainability practices at assemblies, in the newsletter, at working bees, in everything they see around the school
Curriculum – We have incorporated sustainability units of work into our programs to further embed the message about sustainability.
The establishment of the Sustainability Action Teams which incorporates all students and staff at our school was a very significant event at Epping Views. The Biodiversity Team along with other Sustainability teams has met 3 times a term since term 2 to establish purpose, goals, select leaders, complete tasks such as moving mulch, cleaning out compost bins, weeding and creating posters advertising biodiversity. The biodiversity leaders have rung Darebin Creek Management to invite them out to our school, have met with Peter Grenfell about organising a forum and a planting day, have prepared speeches to present at whole school assemblies summarising what has been achieved and have accepted cheques from organisations who provided the school with funds. The involvement by the students has been extremely important in developing a real sustainability culture at Epping Views.
Our school has been in existence for 18 months. As with all new schools there are many challenges and a lot of things that need to be established and various projects maintained. In our case there have been insufficient funds to implement the many exciting, beneficial and comprehensive ideas and projects put forward by our students, staff and community. In an attempt to put some of these ideas into place we have tried the following:
Donations – We have received donations from various sources including items from teachers and various members of the school community. These have included plants, equipment such as small spades, sheds, etc
Internal Organisation – With internal organisation a staff member has been provided with time to enable him to build vegetable gardens. On different occasions this has included working with students in the biodiversity team to assist with the building process. This meant that we only needed to purchase the required materials and didn’t have to pay for labour.
Planting skills/Time management – As our sustainability action team meetings run for just an hour, it has been difficult managing the skilling up of children on planting and getting enough planting done in an hour session. The senior students in the school have done a tremendous job of assisting younger students with their planting. This has allowed for the effective planting and growing of our school’s vegetable garden.
Our principal was passionate that we have chickens at our school. She organised for a small shed she obtained to be placed at the school to be used as a ‘chicken house’. A wire enclosure was built around the shed to house chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs. Parents cleaned up the area and lots of the schools’ fruit and vegetable waste is being used to feed the animals. Some of the biodiversity action team students have been given the responsibility to care for and feed the animals. The introduction of these animals has created great interest amongst the students and the school community and it has become a huge external learning focus for all students.
Although we had organised a plan for the location and construction of the chicken pen, there was little money in the school’s budget to finance the materials. We were fortunate enough to obtain some funding through a program called the ‘Book of Light’ which is an initiative to support those affected by the February 7th bushfires. The design of the pen included a double door so that the children could come into the pen without the animals getting out. The staff member who constructed the pen had to encounter large rocks, which
further delayed the process. As the pen was built by a staff member, the construction process took quite a few weekends, though was successfully completed in July of this year. The school then had to go about purchasing animals for the pen, and were mindful that roosters were more suited to rural area.