In 2010, St Paul’s Primary School in Monbulk invited a staff commitment to evaluate and develop the school’s sustainability practices. This formed an Inquiry Unit which encouraged our senior students to investigate and then innovate changes. The school also undertook the ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic Core Module with CERES facilitation and Sustainability Victoria funding to formalise the process.
St Paul’s Primary School uses the inquiry process from P-6 as part of Contemporary Learning and Teaching. Each year level addresses an aspect of Environmental science each year. Each unit of inquiry that is developed include hands-on learning and sustainability goals. Projects are designed to make connections with home and in the community to foster sustainable behaviours for the future. With the innovation of the Australian National Curriculum, St Paul’s will continue to focus on using aspects of Science and Geography to work on changing behaviours.
St Paul’s has buckets under the water tap bubblers which students empty on the garden daily. Monitors oversee the emptying of buckets and choose the areas that require watering. We have dual flush sensor toilets, and urinals that automatically flush every half hour following use. We encourage regular updates at school assemblies on how to be responsible in the use of water. Our data shows that we are performing efficiently in this area.
In 2011, there has been a particular focus on waste at the school. Nude Food Week in Term 4 encouraged students to reduce their lunch waste and it is expected that this program will be carried over for 2012. During 2011, St Paul’s reintroduced Waste recycling using the large green bins provided by the Shire of Yarra Ranges. Children in grade 5 have taken on the responsibility to make sure these are out early Monday mornings for emptying. The school also recycles its paper and there are paper bins in every classroom. The school has adopted the approach to purchase only recycled photo copy paper and has set photocopying to a “double sided” default setting.
In 2010, an Inquiry unit on Sustainability led to the innovation of better energy practices. The children wrote the Principal in an effort to persuade him to apply for Solar energy grants (which he did, but without success) and asked him for approval to monitor classrooms and their use of energy e.g. lights off during recess and lunch, power point connections turned off when appliances are not in use. The senior school children remind classes by using PA system to turn off lights and heaters or air conditioners. To reduce the school’s carbon footprint, we have continued our practice of ‘Walking Wednesdays’ which has been successfully running for 4 years.
Since 2008 St Paul’s school has had an Igloo that is used to teach students about the value of growing food from seed. A worm farm has been introduced in the last month so composting is also used to fertilise the soil. There are trees planted around the school around school and working bees focus on weed and pest control. The school is conscientious about planting drought tolerant plant such as grasses. Our After School Care has taken on the management of the Igloo for this term and are growing a range of vegetables.
St Paul’s has a whole-school approach to sustainability. Parents are involved through the P & F, working bees, Grounds Committee who plan/work on our grounds with a sustainable focus in mind. Regular snippets and tips are included in the newsletter. The senior school children take on the modelling role of sustainable practitioners in our school community. In 2011 St Paul’s was invited to attend a “Kids Teaching Kids” day which consisted of a series of hands on “Sustainable Practice” workshops held at Belgrave Heights Christian College. Our leadership group of children for 2012 attended so that they could implement a number of these practices in 2012. The children came away more knowledgeable and keen to initiate new ideas.