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Eco Schools in Dorset Case studies

Case studies and great ideas from schools around the county. Read about some of the great work happening in schools around the county.

Ferndown First School and Damers First School share good practise in gardening and earn awards

Our Eco-Schools Step-UP scheme helps aspiring Eco-Schools to develop their eco activities and work towards Eco-Schools awards. Step-UP schools are partnered with a 'mentor' Eco-School, giving Eco-Coordinators the chance to share ideas and learn best practice.

Ferndown First School joined the Step-UP scheme in April 2017 and were partnered with Damers First School, a Green Flag Eco-School. Amy, the Eco-Coordinator at Ferndown, was looking for some new ideas to kick-start gardening activities in school. Fortunately Edd, her mentor at Damers, is school gardening expert!

Amy used her Step-UP bursary to do a learning visit to Damers school, where she saw the garden in action and learned about how the school manage their grow-cook-eat activities. Edd shared lots of his ideas and practical tips for managing the garden and keeping the children engaged.

Since visiting Damers Amy's gardening work has picked up pace. Her Eco-Committee organised a veg sale, selling vegetables they had grown to parents. All the money they raised will go to help with school gardening and Eco projects next year. Year 4 also used vegetables grown in school to cook a delicious vegetable curry.

Edd encouraged Amy to tie her work in to the RHS School Gardening Awards. Damers school have been following the RHS programme and have recently achieved their Level 4 Award in school gardening. On the basis of Amy's work and the encouragement from Damers, Ferndown First have applied for their RHS Level 3 Award, and plan to apply for their Eco-Schools Green Flag next term.

Learning visits are a great way to get inspired and share ideas. The Sustainable Schools Officer can help you find a school and organised a visit.

Salway Ash Primary School: upcycling fashion for charity

Salway Ash teamed up with Bridport SCOPE to give new life to old clothes.

Salway Ash Primary school have been working towards their Green Flag award. They wanted a project that would involve everyone in the school, so they signed up to Bridport Green Fortnight's upcycling competition. Karen, the Salway Ash Eco-Coordinator explains what happened:

"The aim was to teach the children about the importance of reducing waste and reusing materials in an imaginative and creative way whilst supporting charities within our community. I worked with Nicole, the Manager of the Bridport SCOPE shop. Nicole gave us two giant bags of green second hand clothes and challenged the children to design a new outfit using the used clothes to be displayed in the shop window during Green Fortnight. All the children in school entered from Reception to Year 6, and the entries were fantastic!

The Eco Committee had the difficult job of choosing the winning design. Lucy, the winner, was very proud to have her brilliant outfit displayed in the SCOPE shop window during Green Day in Bridport.

SCOPE also gave us some donations bags and we encouraged families to donate their unwanted clothing. SCOPE were delighted when we sent them over 30 bags of clothing to SCOPE to sell! This project was a very positive one for us and SCOPE and it was a great opportunity for the children to learn about waste and support a local charity too. This is a link that we are all keen to foster in the future."

This was an organised competition but why not ask a local charity shop to help you run your own upcycling challenge?

Big Energy Saving Week at Damers First School

The Big Energy Saving Week at Damers First School was designed to help the school meet 3 important Eco-Schools criteria: energy action, curriculum learning and whole school involvement, in one project. First run in January 2015, the Big Energy week has proved popular and has become an annual event, helping to keep energy saving high on the agenda. 

How they do it

Curriculum learning

Over the course of the week, each year group looks at energy production or energy saving in class, incorporating the work into different curriculum areas such as Science, Design & Technology and Literacy. Examples from 2015 include:

  • Foundation - Learning how to save energy in school and at home and writing energy saving promises
  • Year 1 - Making and testing kites out of different materials
  • Year 2 - Debating the arguments for and against wind farms and making their own windmills
  • Year 3 - Exploring solar energy by making circuits powered by mini solar panels
  • Year 4 - Making and testing windmills and exploring other types of alternative energy

In preparation for the week, they worked with the Dorset County Council Schools Energy Officer to collate and analyse the school's half hourly electricity meter readings to get a measure of the school's average daily electricity consumption and energy use patterns. The Schools Energy Officer was also able to lend resources, such as mini solar panel kits, for use in lessons.

Whole-school engagement

Besides the classroom work, whole-school support for energy saving is encouraged by:

  • assemblies led by the Eco-Team, giving energy saving tips using plays, poems and pictures
  • Switch Off Friday - A whole school challenge day during which everyone helps to use as little energy as possible


The most obvious impact of this work is the impact it has on energy use in the school. During Switch Off Friday the school typically reduces its electricity consumption by 50% amounting to a saving of £10 for the day. More importantly, reminding children and staff of good energy saving behaviours has a lasting impact. Since initiating the Big Energy Week and Switch Off Friday, Damers First School has reduced their annual electricity use by 2-3% (most schools have increased their electricity use by about 3% in the same time period). As a large school, this small reduction amounts to a significant cost saving and modest carbon footprint reduction.

Damers First School are now a Green Flag Eco-School, thanks in part to the success of the Big Energy Week in getting the whole school community enthused about saving energy and improving the school environment.

Sustainable Schools Officer

Name: Alison Jay
Tel: 01305 224789
Full details for Sustainable Schools Officer

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