Greener Henley Launch Schools Climate & Nature Action Network

Greener Henley facilitated a launch event for the Henley schools climate and nature action network last Thursday at The Henley College.

17 local schools (nursery, primary and secondary) attended the event to look at ways of how they could transform their schools into truly sustainable ones. The Department of Education guidance states “By 2025, all education settings will have nominated a sustainability lead and put in place a climate action plan.”

Jack Burrows from Shiplake College said to the attendees, “We want to gather your ideas on climate and nature from climate change itself to how do you learn about nature when you’re at school or how you are encourage to travel to school.  All of these different aspects will go on to inform your school on your climate and nature action plan.  You are going to the brains behind it all.  I’m really excited to see what you come up with.”

Pupils and teachers were separated and brainstormed ideas on how they could save energy, recycle waste, encourage walking and cycling to school, help their biodiversity in their school grounds and eat and grow food sustainably.  They then came back together to decide on what they could take back to their schools and implement.

Kate Oldridge from Greener Henley said, “Our Henley schools climate action group has as its two key objectives to (1) raise awareness of the climate and nature emergency within our local school communities and collaborate, and to (2) actively work with local schools to provide support and guidance in creating climate action plans by 2025.  We were delighted with the level of engagement of the group as a whole – we knew it was a success when the children didn’t want to put down their pens and leave! I stood at the door as everyone left and they were all chattering about all the things they were going to do. This kind of public engagement exercise is really critical in bringing the whole community on board in tackling this huge issue.  We can build something really positive out of what is essentially a challenging and troubling subject.”

Henley Mayor, Councillor Kellie Hinton said, “It’s great to see so many schools represented here today and I would like to thank The Henley College for hosting the event today.  Henley Town Council have declared a climate emergency and acknowledged a nature emergency.  This isn’t something that Henley Town Council just believe in and can tackle alone we need to work as a community locally, nationally and internationally in our efforts.  We’re already doing this to try and tackle climate emergency but it is simply not enough we will all need to work collaboratively particularly in education and raising the awareness and achieving our goals.  It is super important that Greener Henley have stepped up to facilitate this new effort with schools to create and implement realistically achievable climate and nature emergency plans.  Henley Town Council can help with both practicable support but also funding for particularly projects.”

Rob Harmer, Headteacher at St Mary’s said, “We were delighted to attend the inaugural event of the new Greener Henley schools climate and nature action group, along with many of our friends from schools in the Henley area.  Our pupils are always keen to get involved in conversations about the environment and nature, and they really enjoyed discussing and sharing ideas with the other children. It was very interesting for us all to consider how important it is to look at ways in which we can play our part in addressing this vital issue, by making changes in our daily lives in school.  The children came back energised and full of creative suggestions, which they will be presenting to the whole school as we move ahead to create an environmental and sustainability action plan.”

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