Rathcormac N.S. in Co. Sligo has 239 students and 20 members of staff. They achieved their Green Flag for Water in May 2017 and were also selected as the Western Region’s Primary School winners at the 2017 Water School of the Year awards in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin 8.
Step 1: Green-Schools Committee
Their committee is made up of students from 3rd to 6th class, with two students per class selected by the class teacher. The committee meets at least twice per month to discuss Green-Schools’ progress; the Green-Schools coordinator and supporting teacher keep the rest of the staff informed of all Green-Schools activity within the school.
Step 2: Environmental Review
Following a water audit, the committee took action to reduce their water consumption by installing hippo bags in the toilet cisterns and attaching sensors to the urinals. They also made sure that the water pressure was decreased and regulated in all the push taps in the school, and took steps to repair the broken and leaking taps they discovered. They hope to apply for a grant from the Department of the Environment through Sligo County Council to purchase a new rain harvester, to replace their old one which no longer works properly
Step 3: Action Plan
As part of their action plan, Rathcormac NS set the following targets:
- To continue trying to locate their leak
- To replace any taps not working effectively
- To secure a new rain water harvester to replace the existing one which is no longer working
- To go on a visit to the local Water Treatment Plant, so that the students could develop an understanding of the extensive treatment process water has to go through before it is fit for human consumption.
Day of Action:
The school organised a Walk for Water on the 22nd March 2017, which involved a 2km walk for the younger children and a 5km walk for the older children. Each child carried a bottle of water to help them understand the concept of having to carry water for survival. The older children rotated with a heavier container of water. All children wore blue on the day and funds raised were donated to local teaching student Michelle Carr from The Froebel College and Hope Foundation Teaching Education Partnership, to help fund her trip to Kolkata to teach voluntarily for 5 weeks.
They also held a whole school assembly, in which a number of children from each class were chosen to display and present their own project and findings. First class students performed a Pollution Rap, and student Hazel O’Brien was presented with a prize for coming up with the winning slogan “Do Your Part Be Water Smart”
The school also planned for the Green-Schools Committee and Water Wardens to visit the local Water Treatment Plant at Kilsellagh and for the younger children to carry out a beach clean-up, in collaboration with Tidy Towns and the local Cubs club.
Step 4: Monitoring and Evaluation
Rathcormac NS monitor water usage by taking meter readings on a regular basis. The readings are recorded and analysed and put on display on the school notice board. This informs everyone of the progress being made and encourages all the students and staff to keep working on the theme. The designated “Water Wardens” monitor the use of water in the classroom and toilets. They regularly give feedback to the class and committee on areas of progress and concern.
They compared their water usage between 2016 and 2017. The figures show that the average usage from March 2016 was 10 litres per day. When they compared the same period in 2017, the average daily usage was 7 litres per day. This is an incredible drop of 3 litres (30%) per person per day since they started the Green-Schools water theme.
Their environmental review highlighted that there is a large leak somewhere in the school, they are currently working to identify and fix this leak. Other actions they have taken to reduce water consumption include:
- Hippo bags have been fitted in all toilets.
- Sensors have been fitted in the urinals.
- The Caretaker turns off the urinals each night.
- The pressure taps have all been regulated.
- The temperature of each hot tap has been reduced and regulated.
- The Water Wardens are responsible for encouraging everyone to be more water aware and use water carefully in daily activities.
Step 5: Curriculum Links
Rathcormac NS has incorporated the theme of water in all classes from Junior Infants to Sixth Class.
|Literacy: Oral – discussion based around water pollution.
Story: the rain on Kapiti Plains.
Experiments to show water pollution in a flower.
The life of 3 plastic bottles – water pollution.
The importance of water for animals and crops – drought in Africa.
Art: Water pollution and food chain.
|Literacy: Oral discussion and writing about water pollution.
Video on water pollution??
Writing a Song/Rap.
Music: Wrote a Water Pollution Rap.
SESE: Water pollution.
Art: Water pollution display and coral reef display.
SPHE: working in groups.
|Literacy: Slogan writing, Report writing.
Studying water conservation and pollution issues.
SESE: Water conservation- slogan writing.
|Literacy: Complete surveys, read and answer questions on questionnaires.
Art: Design and draw a water conservation poster.
SESE: Develop an awareness of our environment and Environmental care.
Maths: Using results from survey to apply maths problem solving.
|Literacy: Oral discussion and presentations on water conservation.
Slogan writing on water conservation.
Recording the class project on water conservation.
ART: Water conservation tips art display.
Water life cycle poster.
Design posters to encourage water conservation.
SESE: Water conservation in the home and school.
Maths: Use mathematical language.
8-9 year olds
|5th Class||Literacy: Project writing. Slogan writing on water conservation.
SESE: Water conservation. Experiment on eco-friendly solution.
|10-11 year olds
|6th Class||Art: Water lifecycle 3D display.
Literacy: Slogan writing on water conservation.
ART: Posters of slogan writing.
Water life cycle poster.
SESE: Water conservation.
3 D model of Water lifecycle.
|11-12 year olds|
Step 6: Informing and Involving
The whole school was, and is, actively involved in their Green-Schools programme in a variety of ways:
- The school community are informed via the school website.
- Staff meetings are used to inform all teachers of Green-Schools progress and to discuss and share ideas for upcoming events.
- The Green-Schools notice board is used to inform pupils, staff, parents and all visitors about their water conservation campaign.
- A variety of activities and events also help to encourage active involvement in the Green-Schools programme:
- Slogan and poster competition to promote the campaign
- Water wardens in each class to encourage everyone’s careful use of water
- Curriculum based lessons in each class to explore water conservation and/or water pollution
- Display of water conservation promises
- 3D model making and display to explain water cycle and impacts of water pollution
- Planned visit to water treatment plant at Kinsellagh
- Beach clean-up involving local Scouts and Tidy Towns Committee
- Discussing the use of eco-friendly cleaning products in the school
- Preparing homemade eco-friendly cleaning products in class
To achieve their Green-Schools goals, Rathcormac NS involved members of the community in a variety of ways:
- Using the school website to update parents and encourage parental involvement in their drive to conserve water both at school and at home.
- A local politician was invited to the school to talk to the children about rain harvesting.
- They liaised with the local Tidy Towns committee and Scouts for a local area clean-up and beach clean-up.
- Their ‘Walk for Water’ helped to fund-raise for a past pupil going to do volunteer work in Kolkata/ Calcutta.
Step 7: Green Code
As part of their Action Plan, the school launched a slogan competition to devise a new Green Code for the school. The Principal and the Green-Schools Co-ordinators chose the winning entry. The new Green Code is displayed beside the Green Schools notice board and has been taught to all the children. It is also regularly referred to at school assemblies.