School With a Difference

Imagine a school set amongst native trees, where the children care for sheep and chickens and enjoy a healthy snack during ‘fruit time’. You could be forgiven for thinking that such a school exists in only a quiet, country town. Well, think again, because these are just some of the unique features of Antonio Park Primary School located in suburban Mitcham.

The school has introduced a number of initiatives as part of its commitment to environmental education and sustainability. In 2001, Antonio Park Primary School became one of 20 Victorian pilot schools across Victoria to be involved in the Sustainable Schools Program. As part of the program, the pupils have undertaken units of work based on the cornerstones of the program – Water, Waste, Biodiversity and Energy. Numerous initiatives that have been put in place including – the dividing of waste into recyclable and non-recyclables both in and out of the classroom, identifying indigenous plant species, and looking at ways to save energy and water. The school has recently welcomed new residents, Shirl the sheep and her two lambs, Bazza and Wally, as well as a dozen or so chooks. Different families volunteer for each week to care for the animals which includes over the weekend.

The school’s waste focus has led to a waste reduction of more than 50%, resulting in hundreds of dollars being saved and redirected into environmental programs. The chooks have played an important role in this waste reduction, with all food scraps being fed to them as well as the worm farm and compost heap. In line with the school’s Healthy Living focus ‘Fruit Time’ was introduced each morning, which allows pupils to eat a piece of fruit halfway through the first session. The healthy snack ensures the children eat their daily fruit, and also reduces the amount of wrappers being taken out to the school yard at recess time. Pupils have also been encouraged to reduce the amount of food wrappings they bring to school and are restricted to certain areas in the school grounds when eating. These initiatives have helped reduce rubbish in the yard and improve the diet of the youngsters.

A recent rubbish audit of the school ground has indicated that the school ground continues to be sustainable in the ‘clean and tidy’ stakes. Furthermore, a number of whole school Sustainability activity days have been organised where children have been split into mixed age groups to take part in environmental activities such as knitting with plastic bags, making new gardens or constructing bird feeders from re-used materials. Antonio Park Primary School is well placed to take on many of these initiatives having its own nature reserve, bordering Antonio Park and being situated close to Yarran Dheran Bush Park. The school has also developed its own School Grounds Master Plan, which represents its long-term vision. The Master Plan includes the existing initiatives as well as future plans, such as the introduction of water tanks, a windmill, wetlands, orchard, a recycling centre and Indonesian gardens.

By Antonio Park Primary School| 2017-11-06T17:12:59+00:00 April 24th, 2013|Uncategorised|0 Comments
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