Pupils want more help to make schools greener

23rd October 2009 at 01:00

Red tape and bureaucracy get in the way of schools being more environmentally friendly, say pupils.

While there is enthusiasm officially for Eco-Schools, pupils have to be determined if they want to make it work, said Kyle Thornton, an S4 pupil at Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow, which has a green flag, the top award in the environmental action programme.

Kyle complained about janitors who refused to help pupils monitor energy consumption because it was "not in their contract".

"Bureaucracy is supposed to support Eco-Schools, but it puts up so many barriers," he told pupils from 30 secondaries participating in an Eco- Schools conference at the Scottish Parliament this month.

Making different schemes work in harmony could also be challenging, pointed out a teacher from Kyle Academy in South Ayrshire. Selling Fairtrade chocolate in a tuck shop, for instance, was not compatible with new healthy eating legislation, and if food was being transported long distances, that could impact negatively on a school's ecological footprint.

The issues were highlighted during a BBC-style Question Time session in the parliament's debating chamber. On the panel were Kyle and three other "knowledgeable and outspoken pupils from some of the country's top- performing Green Flag Eco-Schools".

Kyle Academy had introduced a "Bin It to Win It" competition, said pupil Andrew McCabe. Pupils spotted binning their litter by the school's campus cop, classroom assistants or janitors had their names placed in a prize draw; prizes ranged from mountain bikes to Nintendo Wii consoles. Pupils on the eco-committee also surveyed their peers to find out why they were dropping litter. Now "Bin It to Win It" is being rolled out to other secondaries in South Ayrshire.

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