From Cornwall Council:
A North Cornwall School has been recognised with an award by Cornwall Healthy Schools, part of Cornwall Council, for their work in trying to tackle plastic waste. Marhamchurch School near Bude have achieved a Platinum Learner Participation Certificate for their work in reducing plastic in the environment, not just around their school, but also on the beach at Widemouth Bay.
Teaching Assistant at Marhamchurch School, Rosie Searle, said: “As part of our very active school council we have a plastics working party and they have signed up to plastic free schools, a network of hundreds of schools across the UK. Our aim is reduce plastic, especially single use plastic, in our school environment and raising the profile with other children.”
Driven by the students, the school council have been organising regular rubbish collections around the playground and school field and on a recent trip to the beach at Widemouth, the group collected 11 bags of plastic waste that had been washed up on the shore.
Rosie Continued: “Particularly as a school you need to think about the bits of plastic you could remove from the environment. One of those things we are considering is Red Nose day next year; we are thinking about face painting instead of buying the plastic noses.
“Other things we have done include removing plastic bottles from the school clubs and using reusable cups instead. The children have also started a trash mob, which means they go round and clean up the rubbish around the school and they are going to write to their local MP and try and get him to raise the issue.”
Learner participation is about children and young people having their voice heard when decisions are being made that affect their lives and being actively involved in the decision-making processes. This principle needs to be reflected in the culture and ethos of the whole school community and the systems that govern it.
Students from across Cornwall, including Pennoweth in Redruth, Alverton Primary in Penzance, King Charles in Falmouth and Bishop Cornish Primary in Saltash, were among 20 schools attending Lys Kernow in Truro for a special award ceremony organised by Healthy Schools, which celebrated the work of school councils over the last academic year.
Lead for Healthy Schools Chris Wood, said: “This is one of my favourite days of the year; celebrating the achievements of the young people that volunteer to be a part of their school council. Learner participation starts at bronze and works its way up to platinum, which is what Marhamchurch have received, which is a fantastic achievement.
“Student voice really underpins everything we do at Healthy Schools and the work being done by these students is a great demonstration of this; which is something to celebrate.”
This year’s awards saw a special presentation of a new award; The Suzy Cox Award, which recognised the teachers that work with, and support the school councils. Sarah Start at Marhamchurch was presented with the award for primary staff and Kristien Carrington from Sir James Smith Secondary was recognised in the secondary category.
Cabinet Member and Portfolio Holder for Children and Wellbeing, Sally Hawken, concluded: “It’s great to see children raising their voice to tackle issues that are important to them. Being part of a school council sparks something in young people and empowers them to make a real change, not only in their school, but in their local community.”