St. Imaginary’s NS is a made up primary school we have created to set out the steps a school could take in 2020 to complete their Global Citizenship Food and Biodiversity Flag while adhering to HSE guidelines. St Imaginary’s is a mixed primary school in Cork with 250 students and 10 teachers with one class in every year group from Junior Infants to Sixth Class.
Step 1: Committee
To reduce the need for mixing between class bubbles St Imaginary’s decided to have the core Green-Schools (GS) Committee made up of 10 pupils from 5th class. The class teacher was the GS Coordinator. To keep the rest of the school involved there were several sub committees in different classes with responsibility for different aspects of the theme or maintaining the existing theme. 1st Class had a subcommittee responsible for maintaining the Energy Theme and checking lights were turned off in all classrooms; the 3rd Class subcommittee was responsible for maintaining the GS Notice Board etc. Sub committees reported back to the main committee via notes, video messages and through their teacher.
Step 2: Environmental Review
Before beginning work on the theme, the school needed to assess the current situation regarding Food and Biodiversity in the school.
There were 4 essential actions that needed to be carried out for the theme, including 2 in the environmental review, these are:
- Conduct a Food and Biodiversity Awareness survey
- Create a Food Habitat Map of the School
A survey was given to all class teachers to be carried out with their classes. This was reported back to the committee who compiled the results and displayed them on the school notice board. A speaker from the committee also presented them over the intercom. They found that many students grew food at home during the stay at home period last year and had enjoyed the experience. There was a lack of awareness of where some of our food comes from and how food is connected to biodiversity.
The 4th Class took on the creation of the food habitat map as this linked in with the 4th Class geography curriculum. Once complete it was hung on the Green–Schools notice board. The class used the Green–Schools presentations and templates to help them complete this project.
Step 3: Action Plan
The committee set out the action plan and added to it as the two–year cycle continued. There were two essential actions which are part of the action plan:
- Grow, harvest and eat food crops chosen from our GS ‘Crop Cards’ in the first and second year of the theme.
- Choose a ‘Global Topic’ from the given options, and investigate in a variety of ways as a school.
They paid particular attention to ensure that someone was assigned to ensure an action would be completed and reported back to the committee. Some of their actions included:
- Assign growing spaces to each class and scheduled times to be in the garden areas (to avoid overcrowding)The GS coordinator worked with the class teachers to assign a crop to each class based on GS advice and teachers existing level of knowledge and interest in gardening.
- Prepare growing areas and plant pollinator friendly wildflowers near raised beds.
- Plant crops in spring.
- Make a timetable that has one class assigned to water duty and weeding duty for weekly stints.
- Harvest vegetables as they ripen. Each class can choose recipes from the options provided by Green–Schools to make and taste in school.
- Pictures of dishes displayed on GS notice board.
- The sixth class took charge of the global topics and following consultation with GS coordinator and other class teachers they selected two possible options and designed two posters with information about each. These were hung on the Green–Schools notice board and students across the school could vote for their preferred option by placing a token in a corresponding box beneath the posters.
- School choose Food Miles as their Global Topic.
- Held a “Food Miles Day”. School competition to find lowest food mile lunch in school that day.
- A map of the world was placed on notice board. Each class used a different colour pin to stick into country where item of food from lunch box came from.
- Monitoring and evaluation
A second awareness and attitude survey was carried out at the end of the second year to assess how students had been impacted by the theme.
Crops were photographed and times they were ready to be harvested were recorded in year 1. This information was used to improve in year 2.
A second habitat map was made in year 2 which showed the increased number of areas for growing, the new wildflower area and the new brown bins in staff and classrooms.
- Curriculum Work
The school found that the project had many links to the existing curriculum.
- 4th class Science: Identifying plants in the school grounds
- All classes Geography: Learning about the different parts of the world our foods come from.
- 2nd class Maths: Measuring distances during seed planting
- 6th class English: Class debate on whether we should buy imported fruits and vegetables.
- Informing and Involving
Due to the health guidelines on discouraging mixing between classes there was an increased focus on information sharing using the intercom, GS notice board and virtual messages between the committee and the school.
Throughout the theme there was an effort made to photograph and share projects and activities with others. The committee ensured that all classes within the school were involved in different areas of the theme and jobs were rotated around the school throughout the process.
The local tidy towns group donated some wildflower seeds and advice on planting and published an article about the school garden in their newsletter.
- Green Code
A competition was held to decide on the green code. Each class could submit one. All were read over the intercom and a vote was held in each class. The winning entry was displayed on the notice board and around the school.