Scoil Bhríde Eglantine is a Primary School on the Douglas Road in Cork City. It has 550 students and over 24 staff. They were awarded their Green Flag for Biodiversity in May 2016.
Step 1: Committee
The Committee is made up of Students representing the senior end of this large school, along with three Teaching Staff and the school Caretaker. They meet fortnightly.
Step 2: Environmental Review
Before making changes to the school environment, Scoil Bhríde’s Green-Schools Committee carried out all “Essential” parts of the Environmental Review including:
- Carrying out a Biodiversity Awareness Survey;
- Compiling a Habitat Map of the school grounds, prior to implementing any actions; and
- Revisiting the previous themes and identify links to the theme of Biodiversity.
Having carried out these surveys the Committee identified the following short-comings:
A lack of:
- Understanding among staff and students about biodiversity and its importance.
- Native shrubs and plants suitable for butterflies and bees.
- Spring and summer bulbs.
- Suitable feeding and sheltering opportunities for birds on the school grounds.
They also noticed:
- The presence of an invasive species; the winter flowering heliotrope, on the school grounds.
- Some non native structurally dangerous trees in the school grounds (needing removal).
Image 1: Scoil Bhríde’s Habitat Map – a survey of habitats, carried out at the school (BEFORE any action is taken) –a key component of the Environmental Review
Step 3: Action Plan
Scoil Bhríde’s Committee carried out all of the ‘Recommended Actions’ for the Biodiversity theme, by including the following tasks on their own Green-Schools Action Plan:
- Built raised beds
- Created a Log Pile
- Planted a tree
- Erected bird-feeders
- Monitored the birds visiting the bird feeders
- Contacted a member of the Cork County Council with a view to removing invasive species.
- Created a Leaf Pile
- Planted Bulbs
- Informed the School community and the Board of Management of progress
- Created Bug B&Bs
- Ran a Competition for the Green-Schools Code
- Prepared flowerbeds and plant new shrubs
- Took photographs of work and did a write-up for the Newspaper
- Mapped and Planted a wild garden area on the school grounds
- Took a fieldtrip to Douglas Estuary to do a comparative study of the habitat there
- Organised an Action Day
- Planted vegetables in raised bed
- Invited Guest Speakers to the school
- Planted summer-flowering plants
Step 4: Monitoring and Evaluation
- Repeated Awareness Surveys.
- Repeated the Habitat Map survey.
- Monitored and evaluated progress in the new areas of biodiversity.
- Mini-beasts – The 3rd Classes monitored the species visiting the bug hotels.
- Birds – The 4th Classes have been logging their sightings of birds on a daily basis.
Image 2: Year 2 Habitat Map – a survey of habitats, carried out at the school (after action was taken) – it is an essential component of the Monitoring and Evaluation Step.
Figure 1: Biodiversity Awareness Survey Results – from BEFORE (during the Environmental Review) and AFTER actions were taken to improve awareness and biodiversity levels in the school.
Image 3: Results of Bird Species Monitoring by 3rd Class
Scoil Bhríde worked hard to continue to improve in all areas of previous Green-Schools themes. Examples of just some of their ongoing work on these themes are listed below:
Litter & Waste
- Each class has a litter monitor
- Each classroom has three bins for waste segregation and a “re-use paper” box.
- Polystyrene cups are no longer used at school; each student brings their own reusable cup.
- Litter wardens have been appointed for the yard.
- Installed energy saving light bulbs throughout the school.
- A ‘Green Button’ Campaign has been introduced in the school this year. This allows the computers to enter Hibernate mode simply by pressing the F12 Key when not in use.
- Each classroom has an energy checklist so that the class can monitor their energy use.
- An ‘Energy monitor’ in each class ensures that the checklist is adhered to.
- Each Friday committee members take the reading from the water meter.
- The school are aiming to reduce water usage to 18 cubic metres by the end of June 2016.
- Each class has a water monitor who checks toilets, taps and radiators for leaks regularly.
- A water butt was installed in the school in January.
- Feet First Friday is held monthly – The ‘Golden Boot’ and ‘Silver Skate’ are awarded to the most successful class in each area each month.
- Results are displayed regularly.
- Feedback is sought from parents and local residents.
- In the finer months there is a parent-led walking bus on Fridays
Step 5: Curriculum Work
|Subject||Environmental Issue Covered|
|Gaeilge||Dán: An tEarrach,|
|History||Farming: then and now.|
|SPHE||Media Education / Submitting articles to local paper|
|Music||Songs: Five little Christmas trees and Song about the Rain.|
|P.E.||Dance : ‘The Life-cycle of the Butterfly’|
Step 6: Informing and Involving
Held an Action Day:
- Held a guided tour of a photographic exhibition, biodiversity displays, projects and models for parents.
- Junior Classes took part in a biodiversity art competition and a spring cleanup.
- Middle Classes took part in a ‘snap me’ trail where they were guided by 6th class children. They took photos of biodiversity linked items e.g. plants, animals and habitats on i-Pads.
- Senior Classes took part in a table quiz and a treasure hunt to collect letters which would spell ‘biodiversity’.
Involving the whole school community
- Committee members are assigned a class to keep informed.
- Committee members speak to the School Assemblies each month.
- Website is kept up to date
- Green-Schools Committee staff members give regular updates at staff meetings.
- Each class has an “Energy Monitor”, an “Interactive-whiteboard monitor”, a “Litter Monitor” and a “Water Monitor” actively promoting awareness.
- 6th class pupils act as litter wardens in the school yard.
- All classes participate in our FFF (Feet First Friday).
- Senior classes have responsibility for different biodiversity initiatives – e.g. bug hotels, bird feeders, etc
- Board of Management – informed and updated regularly.
- Newspaper Photographers are invited to Green-Schools events (the committee were featured in the Evening Echo!)
Step 7: Green Code
‘For all species, including you and me, Biodiversity is the Key’
The Green Schools Committee visited all of the classes from 4th – 6th to explain the concept of a Green Code for biodiversity and to announce a competition to select the school biodiversity code.
“Children enjoyed the hands on activities and learned many new skills and pastimes, for example; bird watching and gardening which they will carry through to adulthood.”