Four schools in the district have just been awarded the prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag award for their commitment to protecting the environment.
It brings the total number of schools in the district to achieve this award to 14.
Staff and pupils from Banbridge Nursery School, Bronte Primary School, Gilford Primary School and Dromore Nursery School attended a special ceremony at the Council’s offices.
Council Chairman, Councillor Olive Mercer said: “Congratulations to each school represented here today for achieving a Green Flag award and making environmental education part of your school ethos.
“It’s important that children are taught to value and respect the local environment from an early age and the Eco-Schools programme can add a new dimension to children’s education, providing them with vital environmental knowledge to take into later life.”
Gilford Primary School has just received its fifth green flag. The school has embarked on many environmental projects and covered lots of the topics on the Eco-School programme.
The school has a large vegetable area and flower garden. The Eco-Committee has been instrumental in promoting fair-trade throughout the school. The school focuses on recycling through their brown and green bins and also through their paper banks. They also recycle batteries, mobile phones, ink cartridges and old clothes. The Eco-Committee organised a litter pick in their school grounds and constantly ensures their school is kept free from litter. The school also took part in tree planting in Gilford Community Centre.
Meanwhile Bronte Primary School has just received its first green flag. They studied waste as a major topic including daily recycling of fruit and vegetables for composting through their brown bin, class recycling through their green bin, cash for clobber, water conservation, litter picking in school grounds and saving energy.
Through their biodiversity focus, Bronte Primary School is concentrating on their wildflower area and they have planted trees from the Woodland Trust. They have carried out a waste watch programme in conjunction with the kitchen supervisor and Eco Committee and have achieved zero waste from their canteen through weighing and monitoring of their food leftovers and waste awareness activities.
Dromore Nursery has received their second green flag. This year at Dromore Nursery School they focused on recycling specifically making children aware of sorting and categorising waste - colour coded bin systems etc. This was made very exciting with the introduction of the Super Hero Character ‘Michael Recycle’ who appears in all different areas of the school to remind children and staff to recycle.
The children take turns at different environmental jobs from watering plants to emptying bins. They have a vegetable patch and lots of plants which are watered using water collected from water butts.
Banbridge Nursery school has received its second green flag. They have looked at biodiversity in schools grounds including a new wooden bridge and investigative areas, encouraging wild life to come to the school grounds – frog house, a school hedgehog, bird feeders, big school bird watch, mini-beast area. The school encouraged healthy breaks, dinner and lunch boxes on school trips and ran a healthy bodies poster competition.
Through the Eco-Schools programme the school has been recycling paper, card and plastics and has reduced the amount of litter around the school.
The children take turns to do eco jobs each week - collecting litter, recycling, taking care of plants and wildlife and looking after their guinea pigs, Milly and Tilly. The school has been involved in various initiatives such as The RSPB Big and Little Schools Bird watch, Big Spring Clean, Wildlife Action Awards and Cash for Clobber.
The Eco-Schools programme is an international initiative which is managed locally by TIDY Northern Ireland. For further information about this programme call 9073 6920 or log on to www.eco-schoolsni.org.uk