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Shetland flies the eco flag

There are 40 schools registered with the Eco-Schools organisation, managed in the UK by the Tidy Britain Group based in Wigan and in Scotland by the Dunblane-based Keep Scotland Beautiful. Schools are expected to take seven steps to promote and secure environmental improvements both in and out of the school. They can then apply for an eco-school award, which allows them to fly a green flag.

The three award winners in Scotland are all in Shetland and Lunnasting primary has won twice. The others are Olnafirth and Mossbank primaries.

Rob Dickson, director of Keep Scotland Beautiful, stressed that eco-schools are about education for sustainable development not just environmental education. He and others expressed concern that the Education Minister appeared to confuse the two in his speech.

Mr Dickson said: "It strives to get schools and their wider communities to understand, and take responsibility for, the critical balance that is necessary between social and economic as well as environmental matters. One of the key principles is inclusion, which means in this context that schools must be relevant to the whole community not just to themselves."

The report from the Secretary of State's education for sustainable development group, chaired by Professor Bart McGettrick, principal of St Andrew's College, recommended a strong role for local authorities in promoting its work. The Government has accepted this.

Lord Sewel, the Environment Minister, said in a recent strongly argued speech: "We are some way short of the critical mass of opinion for change to sustainable patterns of life." The Scottish Office would use its power, including financial incentives, to bring about changes directly and through the 95 public bodies it sponsors, Lord Sewel said.

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