BSB’s young environmentalists had much to celebrate in May as the school was awarded the internationally prestigious Eco-School status after completing an intensive programme of activities and target achievement, and successfully navigating an on-site interview by representatives of the organisation.
The Eco-Schools programme encourages young people to engage in their environment by allowing them the opportunity to actively protect it. Through this programme, young people experience a sense of achievement at being able to have a say in the environmental management policies of their schools, ultimately steering them towards certification and the prestige which comes with being awarded a Green Flag.
“This is really quite a big deal actually,” said Kate Ringrose, one of the teachers involved in leading the school’s environmental projects. “Eco-Schools is the largest and oldest recognition of education for sustainable development globally and we appear to be the first International school in Belgium to have been awarded this status.”
After completing an audit in September into how sustainable the school is a number of areas, including waste and recycling, energy, climate change and global citizenship, among others an action plan was drawn up to address the areas which needed work. Over the last few months, students and staff have been working to fulfil seven criteria outlined by the Eco-School committee.
Many of the school’s activities – such as the golden boot award, BSBees, and our Global Initiatives Network, and outdoor learning classes – were harnessed to meet the demands of the bid to achieve Eco-school status. Following the programme in their quest for the Green Flag, BSB students have been combining learning with hands-on experiences, in an all-inclusive, participatory approach which also involves their teachers and the local community at large. The students have been engaged in tackling environmental problems at a level where they can see tangible results, spurring them on to realise that they really can make a difference.
Finally, two representatives of the Eco-School committee visited the school this month to conduct the final assessment. After praising BSB’s “very impressive” efforts, the school was awarded the Green Flag, an international accreditation that has recognised and rewarded young people’s environmental actions for over 25 years and BSB was officially given the status of an Eco-School.
“We are very proud to be given the Green Flag,” said Kate. “The flag is awarded in recognition for all the projects around school that add up to being sustainable. It acknowledges the work of all involved and puts the students firmly in the driving seat for initiatives that ultimately benefit the whole school community.”
The activities undertaken by our students has further enhanced their sense of responsibility and sustainable mindset which they can now apply on a daily basis, giving them even greater drive to really make a difference and to spread their proactive behaviour amongst family and friends.
The emphasis on involving the local community is there from the very beginning. By doing so, the lessons the students pick up are transferred back into the community where they take hold and lead to more sustainable, environmentally responsible behaviour patterns all round.
By gaining Eco-School status, BSB has taken a further step on a meaningful path towards improving the environmental footprint of the school, a change which inevitably leads to a more sustainable, less costly and more responsible school environment. It also brings BSB into an international community of participating institutions and provides the school with an opportunity to share environmental information, and cultural exchanges with other Eco-Schools all over the world.
“We are not only honoured to be awarded the prestigious Eco-School status, which is just reward for all the hard work our students and teachers have put into their sustainability projects, but we are also immensely proud of all those involved,” said Neil Ringrose, Head of Primary and one of the Vice-Principals at BSB.
“Our community at BSB strive to be an educational force for good and one aspect of that is to develop confident, caring and courageous people who engage actively, ethically and purposefully with the world around us. Our students have shown these qualities by exhibiting a deep respect for the environment and an understanding of how their actions can help protect the planet, while encouraging others to do so too.”
Thank you to all students and staff for being so actively committed to putting sustainable thinking and acting at the centre of school life here at BSB. We are delighted to be joining the worldwide network of Eco-Schools.
To learn more about The British School of Brussels approach to sustainability, please contact us.