ECO SCHOOL awards go to a disproportionately high number of primary schools - 87 per cent compared to only 5 per cent of secondaries - according to a report published by the Scottish Council for Research in Education Centre at Glasgow University.
A survey of secondary pupils for the report suggests the programme may need to develop a more critical edge and address issues such as climate change more directly, if it is to broaden its appeal to this sector.
Report authors Anne Pirrie, Dely Elliot, Fraser McConnell and Eric Wilkinson, said such a move would be entirely consonant with A Curriculum for Excellence, which states that all young people should be enabled to "evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues" and "make informed choices and decisions".
They added:"Although issues such as climate change and wealth and health inequalities are already covered in the secondary school curriculum, the fact remains that learning about these issues is rated as highly by the secondary pupil respondents as keeping the school litter-free and maintaining or developing the physical environment of the school."
The report concluded that primary pupils in particular derive great benefit from the sense that they are "making a difference" through their involvement in the Eco Schools programme. Along with parallel initiatives, such as Health Promoting Schools and Active Schools, Eco Schools are seen as effective in improving the physical environment and the ethos of the school.
There were also links between these programmes. For example, the litter reduction agenda could be used to decrease the consumption of processed snacks.
How to go green...
The emphasis should shift from gaining awards to self-directed learning.
The Eco Schools Management Team should give more prominence to activity and achievements in the secondary sector on its web pages.
Twinning arrangements between primary and secondary schools should be considered.
The criteria for awards should be defined more tightly.
Staff with a home-school link remit should be involved more actively.
Schools that have already attained Green Flag status should be harnessed to share their experience with other schools.
Pupils' written work should be eligible as part of a school's submission.