Independent School Parent
The Green Award for Environmental Achievement ST PAUL’S GIRLS’ SCHOOL
Placing environmental initiatives and activities right at the heart of the curriculum ensured award success for the west London school
Taking environmental responsibility has long been central to the lives of many students at St Paul’s Girls’ School, as shown by numerous alumnae working in this field, including Professor Kate Raworth and Professor Rebecca Henderson. Over the past few years, however, addressing the climate and biodiversity crises has become mainstream here. There has been an explosion in applications from all years to be on the St Paul’s Environmental Action Committee (SPEAC), one of its most active societies, which is supported by teachers from across the school.
It has been another busy year for SPEAC and winning the Environmental Achievement Award 2021 felt like a fitting way to acknowledge all the efforts of students and staff, past and present.
Notable recent student achievements have included two year 10s winning the inaugural Climate Science Olympiad against 12,000 participants (aged 14 to 25 from 149 countries), leading to an invitation to COP26 in Glasgow to present their innovative carbon tax proposal; and a year 12 winning the Hammersmith & Fulham Youth Green Champion Awards 2021. Others have been selected as ambassadors for the Youth Climate Summit, Ernest Cooke Trust and Bright Green Futures.
Last term several activities were held to mark COP26, including a vegan bake sale in aid of global south youth activists, a student-run mock COP and another mock COP attended by a dozen state and independent secondary schools. The long-term focus, however, remains embedding sustainability throughout the curriculum, cocurriculum and operations. The school offers its own courses on business sustainability and animal conservation and has just conducted a survey of environmental education completed by all staff. It’s signed up to the Let’s Go Zero nationwide schools’ campaign and awaits the findings of an external carbon audit to inform the next steps of its staff-student waste, food, energy and travel taskforces. Student-led activities include an Eco Discussion Group open to other schools, weekly bulletins and regular whole school and year assemblies. The student-run Green Week typically includes talks and workshops, art and poetry displays, a greenest year group competition, volunteering, fundraising vegan cookalongs and oldest clothing day.
Partnerships are critical to the school’s environmental work. Its service programme includes popular options to tend community spaces and volunteer with local environmental charities. In 2018, St Paul’s founded the London Schools Eco Network (LSEN), originally a partnership with its main partner school Hammersmith Academy, that has expanded to schools from across the capital and provided a model for other regional networks, brought together by the UK Schools Sustainability Network.
“The ISOTY environmental achievement award has provided important recognition and motivation for all those students and staff who work so hard on sustainability and climate action across the school,” says Head of Sustainability, Dr Jessica Tipton. spgs.org
“THE AWARD HAS PROVIDED IMPORTANT recognition and motivation for all those students and staff who work so hard ON SUSTAINABILITY AND CLIMATE ACTION ACROSS THE SCHOOL”