Another winner of this year’s Ashden Sustainable Schools Award was Marton primary school in Lincolnshire.  What follows is taken from the Ashden case study which details the school’s success.

The Ashden judging panel said:

“Marton Primary School is an excellent role model for other small schools.  The staff and pupils have adopted a very simple approach focusing on low cost or no cost actions such as behaviour change to really make a difference.”

And Headteacher Ben Stephenson, commented:

“By weaving environmental education through our curriculum and by promoting our school values, our pupils are determined to ask challenging questions and find solutions so that we reach our missionto become carbon neutral as well as responsible custodians of our amazing planet.”

Thinking big

Marton Primary School is a small primary school 4 miles north of Lincoln.  There are four classes at the school, with a quarter of the pupils living in the village, and the rest coming from the surrounding area.  The school has 90 students aged 4 to 11 years old. The buildings were constructed in the 1960s and manly consist of single storey structures.

In 2013, Marton was invited to take part in Lincolnshire County Council’s SCoRE programme, a county-wide initiative to help schools become more sustainable and reduce carbon emissions.  Ben Stephenson and his colleagues decided that a strategy focusing on behaviour change and energy efficiency would be the school’s starting point rather than investigating renewables.  Activities began with the appointment of three pupil Carbon Ambassadors from Year 5 and Year 6, who carried out an energy audit of the school to develop a plan of action to reduce the school’s carbon footprint.

Small changes but big rewards

The school has developed a culture for energy saving, and it was the students who insisted on changing their lunch break time so as not to prolong meals being warmed by an electric food warmer – pupil power in action.  Teacher, Simon Green, said:

“I am very fussy about purposeful learning in that data handling activities should relate to real life tasks such as analysing energy data.

Lincolnshire County Council’s Jonathan Parkin was impressed by the carbon ambassadors:

“The work by the carbon ambassadors at Marton has been of such a high standard, that I would like to see them showcase their work to other schools in Lincolnshire.”

Here are some key stats:

  •  29% reduction in electricity use over 3 years
  • 100% LED lighting throughout the school
  • 12 tonnes CO2 saved each year because of the switch to LED

Behaviour change

The focus on behaviour change is immediately obvious at this school.  All lights are switched off, as well as equipment that is not being used.  There are stickers and posters around the school encouraging energy saving.  All switches have been coded green or red by the pupils so that everyone knows which ones they can switch off.  Twice a year the school participates in the local authority’s ‘Switch-Off’ day, and for this a 50% reduction in energy use  is the norm. The school uses these two events as a reminder of what can be achieved.

At Marton, all members of staff are aware of the need to save CO2, with just four classes, the staff ensure that the children have a strong voice in determining the energy saving processes.

Marton’s vision is to inspire its pupils to learn in and beyond the classroom timetable, which is evident in the wide range of sustainability activities that take place in the school.

The curriculum beyond the three Rs is topic based and all year groups participate in learning about sustainability and the need to conserve resources.  Particularly impressive is the work of the Year 5 and 6 pupils in using energy data for data handling exercises in Mathematics and IT.

Simon Green, class teacher, has used the energy data and meter readings to set a series of tasks for pupils to analyse energy.

The Future

The school plans to replace its oil heating with a biomass system, using locally sourced wood.  It is also looking at installing a 10kWp PV solar array on the roof of the reception classroom.

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