PORTISHEAD SCHOOLS – PRIMARY ECO-FORUM June 30th 2023
Portishead Primary has again led the way with its eco-action by organising and hosting the town’s first ever Schools’ Eco Forum. In total, over 60 children from the five local primary schools attended to participate in tours, workshops, presentations and discussion groups.
Our day began at 9.45am with the schools gathering to enjoy refreshments in the hall. In addition to members of our own eco-committee and eco club, we were joined by children from St Peter’s C of E Primary, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary, Trinity Anglican Methodist Primary and High Down Primary. To have all five schools together felt truly special, particularly because they were drawn from three different Academy Trusts.
After introductions, the five schools split into four mixed groups each named after a native tree. Portishead Primary’s eco6 club members were able offer a tour of the school guiding their groups around the various projects already completed: LED lighting in Year 2, our wonderful Forest School, the rewilded area and the playground recycling scheme.
Having reconvened, the children participated in a team-building activity led by Mrs Wallace, Cross the River, in which carpet tiles were used as stepping stones to cross an imaginary, crocodile-infested river. Needless to say, there weren’t enough tiles and their ingenuity and cooperation was required.
All children safely across, we could then begin the main focus of the morning: a carousel of workshops provided by four local groups. Abbie Edbrooke from North Somerset’s Travelabilty project got children to reflect on their travel habits and create a weekly record of their ‘footprint’. Kate Eastbrook and Johnny Boxshall from the Master Composters explained the multiple benefits of composting and offered advice to our eco-team. Nicola Webb from Energy Sparks showed how it’s possible for children to track a school’s energy usage online so that economies can be made and CO2 emissions reduced. Finally, Catrin Wade from North Somerset’s recycling team brought along an actual recycling lorry to explain how they work and clarify what, and what can’t, be recycled.
After such a busy morning, it was lovely to see children from the five schools enjoying their picnic lunches together in the forest school area. Whilst some of them are already friends through other groups outside of school, it is heartening to think that many will have the opportunity to continue their joint eco-action when they ‘graduate’ to Year 7 at Gordano School.
Following a frenetic clean-up by the PPS lunchtime team, the school hall was made ready for the afternoon’s presentations and discussion sessions. Each school gave short presentations that showcased some of the eco-actions that they had undertaken in the previous year. High Down spoke about their Trash Mob: a pupil-led initiative to collect and rid the school of plastic within three years. St Joseph’s Primary have been focussing on the outdoor environment with litter picks, tree and meadow planting, and a litter picking hire scheme.
Portishead Primary’s eco team talked about how they have worked alongside outside groups, presented assemblies and won funding for LED lighting. Meanwhile, Trinity spoke of their progress in presenting assemblies to their school, their work alongside a gardener to develop the grounds and their commitment to composting. The St Peter’s eco committee had been busy working alongside Energy Sparks to reduce energy consumption, created an eco-area and school allotment and promoted a Walk to School project. We were also treated to a virtual presentation by Gordano School’s eco club who have taken great strides to create rewilded areas and install a large vegetable patch.
With heads buzzing with ideas, the children then sat back in their mixed-school groups to think about a project that the five primaries might work on together next year. They did not disappoint with their ideas which included a shared eco-week, a huge litter pick, joint videos and presentations, the installation of bug hotels in every school and shared car and electricity-free days.
We were then lucky enough to be joined by Stephanie Franklin, the LSP Sustainability Manager, who encouraged each school to make a pledge for the year ahead. Amongst other ideas, Portishead Primary and High Down both committed to developing a veggie patches, and St Peter’s said they would try to get on top of composting and playground recycling.
As we said goodbye to each other we couldn’t help feel thankful for such a wonderful day. Seeing the children working and playing together was truly inspirational and should fill the whole of Portishead with hope for a positive and rewarding year ahead. Big thanks go to Steve Taylor, Kirsty Perry, Jess Wallace, Neill Bird, Katy Lewis and the school dinner staff from Portishead Primary. We’d also like to extend our gratitude to Sarah Russell of St Peter’s Primary, Nikki Fackrell of High Down Primary , Chloe Shocklidge of Trinity and Nicola Woodford of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary for all their support, encouragement and hard work along the way. There is already talk of a repeat conference next year. We can’t wait!