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Young people from North Tyneside schools; Rockcliffe First School, Appletree Gardens First School, Forest Hall Primary School and Valley Gardens Middle School, have been presented with an internationally recognised eco-award.

Following tremendous efforts in environmental action and learning, the schools have been awarded with the Eco-Schools’ Green Flag. The awards were presented by North Tyneside’s young Mayor, Max Godfrey, on Tuesday September 27.

The Green Flag award is part of the Eco-Schools’ programme, showcasing the fantastic work that schools do as part of their Environmental Committees. Participating schools can achieve the level of Green Flag by submitting an online application and answering a series of questions based on the Eco-Schools’ ‘seven steps’: Eco-Committee, Environmental Review, Action Plan, Curriculum Links, Informing and Involving, Monitoring and Evaluation and Eco-Code. Applicants are required to submit evidence to support their responses, highlighting the efforts they have taken to implement each of the steps and work towards the Eco-Schools’ ten topics: biodiversity, energy, global citizenship, healthy living, litter, marine, school grounds, transport, waste, and water.

As part of their efforts to achieve the award, the environmental teams from each school have adopted a number of eco-conscious practices. Students from Rockcliffe First School have participated in climate marches, raised money for the Fairtrade Foundation and WaterAid, and worked with local residents to develop garden areas and create bottle-top artwork. These undertakings awarded Rockcliffe the Green Flag with Distinction, the highest of accolades.

Environment Coordinator and Reception Class Teacher at Rockcliffe First School, Elisha Ratcliffe, said “As a school, the Eco-Schools' Green Flag award scheme has helped us to adopt many sustainable environmental practices within our organisation.

“Our wonderful Eco-Club, made up of 15 children; two per class from Reception to Year Four, who refer to themselves as Eco-Warriors, have taken many steps this year through the Eco-Schools' programme to implement positive and sustainable changes in our school. Beginning with an ‘Environmental Review’, the children assessed strengths of our school and identified areas for improvement. The children then created and carried out an 'Action Plan' and assessed its impact across the year.

“We are incredibly proud of Eco-Club and all of the children at Rockcliffe First School. Their passion for our planet and willingness to protect it is simply infectious. As Greta says, 'No one is too small to make a difference' and this is certainly the case here at Rockcliffe. Their environmental actions are big and voices are loud, and I truly hope that we all hear their message, 'we love our planet, save our planet' (our Fridays for Future climate change march 'chant').”

As part of his manifesto, the Young Mayor vowed to get schools signed up to the Eco-Flag Awards. He showed his support for the scheme, saying: “The Green Flag Award is an incredible achievement. Schools achieving this status represent concrete action being taken in the borough to address the climate crisis, this is one of the reasons I pledged to get schools signed up to the award in my manifesto.

“Each of the recognised schools should be incredibly proud of themselves and the changes they’ve managed to put in place.”

The award follows the council’s embarkment on a journey towards becoming carbon net-zero as part of the 2030 Action Plan. Cllr Sandra Graham, Cabinet Member for Environment, said “It’s great to see so many young people getting involved and taking an active approach to combatting the climate crisis.

“We can all benefit from being more climate conscious, but ultimately, it is these young people that will be most impacted by the actions we take now. Encouraging schools to get involved with the award is a brilliant way to engage youth with the future of the climate fight, as well as generate change right now.

“I encourage all our eligible North Tyneside schools to research the Eco-Schools’ Green Flag and learn about how they can take part in the initiative.”

Further information about the Eco-Schools’ Green Flag Award can be found here.

Attached photo: Cllr Sandra Graham and Young Mayor, Max Godfrey with members of Rockcliffe First School’s Eco-Club

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