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Green Flag award joy for Milne's Primary pupils

By Alan Beresford

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THERE is a green flag fluttering proudly above Milne's Primary these days marking an eco award first for the school.

Getting ready to do a spot of award-winning litter picking are (from left) Lewis, Amber, Milne's Primary eco lead Pip Wheeler and John. Picture: Milne's Primary
Getting ready to do a spot of award-winning litter picking are (from left) Lewis, Amber, Milne's Primary eco lead Pip Wheeler and John. Picture: Milne's Primary

Litter picking in the community has helped the kids at Milne's achieve their very first Green Flag award.

They have been working hard through the Eco-Schools Scotland programme, run by Keep Scotland Beautiful, which aims to make action to tackle climate change and environmental awareness an intrinsic part of the life and ethos of schools, for both pupils and for staff.

The programme provides a framework to engage the wider school community in climate action aligned with the purposes of Curriculum for Excellence and Learning for Sustainability.

To complete the Green Flag journey each school has a choice of 10 topics to engage with, from climate action, to food and the environment, to litter, to energy. The schools also choose one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to link their Eco-Schools work to.

Milne's Primary headteacher Kim Karam praised all those involved with bringing Green Flag award to the school and said participating in the scheme had brought tangible benefits.

She said: "Thank you to Mrs Pip Wheeler and the Milne’s Primary Staff for all their support and encouragement.

"Their dedication has helped us achieve another accreditation for the school.

"Every time you look at the eco flag, perhaps you can think about the little changes you can make to help reduce, reuse, recycle and positively impact our beautiful environment."

Gaining the accreditation was no easy task, as Ms Karam explained.

"There were seven steps to achieving this accreditation. These included things such as an audit of what we needed to better from an environmentally friendly perspective.

"This helped us to form an action plan. We had to look at our litter picking, eco initiatives and where we could improve.

"We got a grant to buy some litter pickers and bins so we created a food waste and plastic recycling stations for break and lunch times. The children take turns to monitor and weigh waste and to pick litter.

"We are doing much better as a school in understanding what we can recycle and making better choices about food packaging so we can make better choices. Some pupils now bring in reusable containers and water bottles which is great to see. Everyone seems more aware of what they can do and hopefully this ethos will spread through the community.

"Sustainability is important across the curriculum at all stages. We had to focus on a Global Sustainable Goal and chose ‘good health’. This also links to the children’s rights. Being outdoors and finding out about nature can be very good for mental and physical wellbeing. It has been nice to spend time outside across the seasons."

Community support was to prove a vital plank in the school's eco ward success.

We are delighted with the support we got," Ms Karam continued.

"The Parent Council paid for some really versatile raised beds which are allocated one to each class. We used them to grow different things.

"The Men’s Shed helped to make the raised bed and Ann Davidson from REAP came to train our staff in how to plan, plant and harvest. She also worked with the children.

"Lorna Hall from the dolphin centre also came to speak to each class about the impact of the environmental rubbish that ends up in the sea and the damage it can do to wildlife. The children were especially interested to hear just how long some of this rubbish takes to biodegrade. This was especially important in our local area."

Milne's have to reapply to keep the Green Flag status, with the next eco project on the horizon for the pupils and staff focusing on feeding and housing the birds in the school's eco garden.

Ms Karam added: "It has been a very rewarding process.”

Praising the efforts of Milne's Primary and other award-winning schools, Catherine Gee, Deputy Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “I’d like to congratulate the Eco-Committee, pupils and staff at each of these schools, who have worked so hard to play their part in combatting climate change and achieve their Green Flag Award.

"This is particularly impressive during a time of unprecedented adjustment and change to education due to the pandemic and is testament to the resilience and creativity of both pupils and educators.

“Keep Scotland Beautiful is committed to supporting all our children, young people and educators through our climate action schools activities to develop the capacities, skills and attributes required to protect our planet and work towards our goal of a Net Zero future.”

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