St Mary’s is a special school in Navan with primary and secondary students attending. There are 14 teachers, 35 SNAs and 84 students. For their amazing work and the variety of projects and activities undertaken, St Mary’s was awarded their Green Flag for Biodiversity in May 2022. Learn how they went about this below.
The make-up of the Green Schools Committee changed during this theme. The committee was initially led by a class in the primary school section of the school and two Green Schools coordinators. In the final year it was led by a group of secondary students, their teachers and SNAs and two different GS coordinators. This allowed a variety of students to be involved in the committee and also facilitated a change in the availability of GS coordinators. The committee met monthly and kept the whole school involved and updated. One very effective way of communicating with the entire school was by creating videos to show during assemblies. For example, a video was made which showed how to recycle correctly and what items went in each bin. The committee also made displays to put up around the school.
Before the school started working on the theme they carried out the environmental review. This includes two essential actions:
– Carrying out an awareness survey.
– Creating a habitat map of the school.
This helped them find out what everyone already knew about Biodiversity and what kind of habitats their school grounds had for wildlife. Once they had these two items taken care of they could start planning their actions!
Students enjoyed spending time outside as part of this theme as they took part in a variety of activities to restore and improve the outdoor space and garden:
-Rebuilding the raised beds and tidying and fixing the polytunnel.
-Planting wildflowers and fruits and vegetables like lettuces, potatoes and strawberries. The whole school community got involved here, with the older classes assisting the younger students.
-Weeding and caring for the beds.
-Tree planting as part of tree week.
-Observing the different types of insects in the school garden.
-Filling the bird feeders and watching the birds.
-Creating art based on nature and using natural materials like sticks to paint with!
-Learning about food chains
-Keeping up to date on the other themes including saving water and litter and waste.
Whole School and Community Involvement:
There were many ways that St Mary’s kept all of their students involved. They shared information with each other throughout the theme. They also got the wider community involved. Expert speakers came to the school to facilitate workshops as part of their “action days”. The school also wrote articles about their work on the Biodiversity theme to include in both their school newsletter and local paper to share all the knowledge they had gained. The school has also worked with the local tidy towns group and always get involved with community initiatives.