Will schools have to weed out grass to be green?

20th March 2009 at 00:00

Schools in the south of England could be left without grass playing fields by 2020 because of pressure to be more environmentally friendly, a former Downing Street adviser has warned.

Most schools will have to generate their own energy over the next decade as councils try to cut carbon emissions, Robert Hill told the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders.

"By 2020, I would expect most schools to have to be self-sufficient in terms of energy," Mr Hill said. "This could be done by digging into the ground to extract heat.

"In the south of England, there will be insufficient water to maintain school playing fields anyway, so these will be dug up and replaced by all weather pitches," he predicted.

Local authorities will become part of a "cap and trade" scheme to limit carbon emissions in 2011. Schools are responsible for about half of council emissions, Mr Hill said. "Schools are their biggest opportunity to make an impact quickly," he said. "Schools will have to cut emissions sharply over the next 10 years."

The Government has pledged to open the first zero-carbon schools by 2016 as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme, which will refurbish or rebuild all secondary schools.

But Robin Nicholson, chairman of the zero-carbon task force for schools, told The TES last year that it would be "bloody difficult" to achieve. There will need to be a radical expansion of renewable energy sources if the target is going to be reached, he said.

Mr Hill, a former adviser to both Tony Blair and former education secretary Charles Clarke, pointed to an Ofsted report that said sustainability was still a peripheral issue at most schools. He said that would have to change.

His comments on climate change coincide with the launch of a wider project that Mr Hill is running for the ASCL, investigating issues facing schools in 2020.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now