Buick Memorial Primary School in Cullybackey has been awarded a prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag by the environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.
The Eco-Schools Programme is the world’s largest Environmental Education programme and aims to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of the life and ethos of a school.
Its participatory approach and combination of learning and action makes it an ideal way for schools to begin improving the environments of schools and their local communities.
Eco-Schools work through a simple seven-step process resulting in the programme becoming central to the school's ethos. Schools can choose from ten eco-topics ranging from litter and waste to energy, biodiversity and transport to name a few. Eco-Schools work towards achieving awards - bronze, silver and the prestigious Green Flag.
The internationally recognised Green Flag is this highest award given to Eco-Schools and symbolises excellence in the field of environmental activity.
Over the past two years, pupils of Buick Memorial have been working hard on many initiatives in order to address their chosen topics of Waste, Litter and Biodiversity. Together with Eco Coordinators Mrs Carleton and Miss Stirling, they have produced policies on printing, recycling and litter for staff and pupils within the school to follow. Their continued commitment to regular Cash for Clobber collections enabled the school to purchase a number of new bins for the playground. Thanks to Catherine Hunter, Mid and East Antrim Education Officer, the children were able to give each class a bin for food waste, allowing the Eco Club to produce compost for their many planting activities.
A highlight of the Eco-School endeavours is the annual litter-pick with Cullybackey Community Partnership and thanks must be given in particular to Margaret Murphy who is always keen to help the children in any way she can.
The school is extremely grateful to Cranswick Country Foods for providing a superb wooden structure for the ‘plastic bottle greenhouse’ project and to Barry Tapster, Mid and East Antrim Recycling Officer, for his guidance.
This year has been exceptionally busy, with the introduction of a termly ‘Walking Week’ which the pupils and parents have strongly supported. The Eco Club have spent a lot of time tending to the school pond area; building mini-beast and frog hotels, making bird feeders and planting flowers for pollinators amongst many other tasks. None of these opportunities would have run as smoothly were it not for the unwavering input from Mr Fleck (Building Supervisor) and the dedication of Ms Harkin (Assistant).
The positive attitude and increased awareness of environmental issues is evident within the school from Nursery through to P7 and this Green Flag is a welcome acknowledgement of the children’s efforts.
The International Eco-Schools Programme is operated in Northern Ireland by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and is a free to enter programme. Please visit www.eco-schoolsni.org for further information.