Midleton CBS were awarded the Water School of the Year award in May 2017, as the overall secondary school winners. The school, based in Midleton, Co. Cork, is made up of 700 students and 60 teachers.
Step 1: Green-Schools Committee
The Green-Schools Committee is made up of students from every year. They meet every month to discuss progress and ideas for future initiatives.
Step 2: Environmental Review
In order to review the existing levels of awareness regarding water conservation within the school, a survey of 1st and transition year students was carried out . It was found that levels of awareness were already very good in the school – almost 70% of the students surveyed turn off the tap while brushing their teeth. To control water usage, a leaks test was conducted and a large leak was found following the building of a new school extension. This leak was identified and fixed. They also carried out a volume test in each set of taps in the school. Taps with excessive flow rates were reported to the caretaker and the flow rate reduced.
Step 3: Action Plan
Midleton CBS came up with a detailed Action Plan for reducing their water consumption. Their aims were:
- To reduce the amount of water used in the school
- To ensure the school community was aware of the Green-Schools Water theme
- To increase water conservation awareness within the school
- To discover the amount of water being used daily, weekly and annually
- To identify leaking water appliances in the school
To achieve these goals they carried out the following actions (among others):
- Set target to reduce water consumption by 10%
- Conducted water usage surveys among first year and transition year students
- Conducted a “Slow the Flow, Save H2O” campaign
- Carried out an audit of water appliances and water flow rate
- Participated in the Green-Schools Irish Water Poster Competition
- Set up a water-butt for rainwater harvesting
- Updated their website with the findings of their water surveys
- Participated in the Green-Schools Walk for Water event at Gougane Barra
Step 4: Monitoring and Evaluation
The school’s progress for the Water theme was monitored in a number of ways:
- Records were kept of water usage.
- They carried out a leaks test and discovered a major leak. They evaluated their progress by comparing figures from previous years. Between 2014 and 2015 they saw a 26% reduction in mains water use even with a 10% increase in school population and a 225% increase in floor area.
- Designated water wardens check the meter and check for leaks, and dripping taps on a regular basis. Water flow into and out of the rainwater tank is monitored as this supplies all toilets in the new extension.
- They monitored the rain collected from their “garden shed” which collected in the water butt, this water was then used in the poly-tunnel.
- The litter theme was maintained with the addition of paper recycling bins to the classrooms; new signs were put up in the canteen to remind students to segregate their waste.
- They also maintained the energy theme by reigniting their “Be bright turn off the lights” campaign. All new classrooms were fitted with reminder signs to switch off the lights, shut down computers, turn off screens and close windows. All computers in the IT rooms had their power settings changed to go to sleep and power off sooner and the brightness was also turned down on the screens.
Step 5: Curriculum Links
Water was incorporated into the curriculum for all year groups, some examples include:
|Subject||Class group||Issue covered|
|German||1st – 6th yr||Wasser, Rhine River|
|Music||1st – 6th yr||Sing songs with water theme|
|Art||1st – 6th yr||Water colours, design|
|History||1st – 6th yr||Knowing when rivers were formed, motte and bailey|
|Business||1st – 6th yr||Water charges for accounts|
|Physics||4th – 6th yr||Volume, surface area, oil floats on water (density)|
|Chemistry||4th – 6th yr||Used as a solvent for diluting substances in experiments, osmosis, Liebig condenser (distillation)|
|Biology||4th – 6th yr||Water for life|
|Maths||1st – 6th yr||Quantity/ratio, volume, surface area|
Step 6: Informing and Involving
The whole school is informed and involved in a number of ways, and the wider community is also included in Green-Schools initiatives:
- They have a “water wall” and recycled notice-boards which are updated regularly by the committee. Updates include graphs, water usage, upcoming events, and pictures of previous events.
- Classes made posters for the Green-Schools Irish Water Poster Competition; these were displayed around the school.
- All Transition Year students participate in their Green-Schools module, rotating over the year.
- Membership of the Green-Schools committee is open to all students and staff, and student council members are de facto members, allowing them to report back to their classes as they do with other issues. Teachers spent a lesson focusing on water and how it’s incorporated into their subject, in the lead up to World Water Day.
- They are very involved with the Tidy Towns in the town, each year they help them with the clean-up of Ballyannon Woods and Midleton estuary. They will be using water from their rainwater butt to water the Tidy Towns’ flowers.
Step 7: Green Code
Submissions for a new Green Code were requested from all the students, the submissions were read out at the committee meeting and the winner selected: “Slow the Flow, save H2O”