The Eco Committee was formed to raise awareness of the importance of students knowing more about sustainability and taking ownership of the key areas of sustainability that they feel passionately about within our own school.
The Eco Committee was formed in 2018 and was represented, as it is now, by students from every year group across the entire school. Students also have the opportunity to join the Eco-Schools section of the Student Leadership as Champs and are led by a Senior student.
After its formation, the Eco Committee met daily to decide which sustainability areas of the school needed to be a focus. The committee members chose Recycling, Water Consumption, and Litter as the three areas to focus on. Since then, the Eco Committee members have taken part in a weekly break and lunchtime rota, in which the committee litter picks and checks taps in the school toilets for water being wasted.
In 2019, the Eco Committee started a drive to increase the number of students who walk to school by working with Living Streets. This culminated in a walk-to-school week in September and June. As a result of the involvement with Living Streets, Gildredge House was chosen as a school to have a tailor-made “Active Travel” map designed. The planning for this involved a group of Year 8 Eco committee members and their legacy continues, with the annual redistribution of the map to new Year 7 pupils.
The Eco Committee has been actively involved with the Coastal Schools Partnership and has been heavily involved in the future development of Eden within Eastbourne. The special relationship with the partnership has seen the team take part in many initiatives with other Secondary and Primary schools in the town. Over the last few years members of the Eco Committee have been involved in Environmental Symposiums at Eastbourne College, Eden in Eastbourne meetings, The Queens Jubilee Green Canopy walk designs, Knepp Wildland visits, Glasgow COP21 “A bird to be heard”, beach cleans and many other events.
The ongoing work of the incredible Eco Committee members and those before them, led to the Committee achieving the Eco Schools Green flag status in 2020 and once again in July 2023. This accolade makes Gildredge House the only school in Eastbourne to be a fully recognised Eco School. Something of which Gildredge House is immensely proud.
This term we see the continued work of the Eco Committee on the upcoming Gildredge House Sponsored walk. In October the committee is continuing the Seeeds4kids programme in the lower school, as well as starting to plant Saplings from the Woodland Trust, in the Eco Garden; as part of the ongoing collaboration with the local charity Treebourne. Treebourne planted 25 trees on our site in 2023. Creating an orchard area at the back of our school, which is used for outdoor learning by various departments and year group phases.
Environment Agency and Coast School’s Partnership Coastal Management Day
On Wednesday 28th, 2023, eleven Year 8 students from the Eco Committee attended a day at the seafront. The day was organised and run by a partnership between the Environment Agency and the Coastal Schools Partnership. As a member school of the Coastal Schools Partnership, Gildredge House and other local schools were asked to attend and give the Environment Agency an insight into the thoughts and feelings of students from across the local area.
The focus of the day was to raise awareness of the Environment Agencies' plans to implement a new Shoreline Management Plan on the coastline running from Holywell to Pevensey Bay. The EA has a budget of £100 million, which is the largest in the UK, and this is to be used to modify the coastline to protect against a predicted sea level rise of 1.56m in the next 100 years, caused by climate change. The increased threat of future coastal flooding and erosion in the local area is also due to a predicted increase in storm activity, again linked to climate change.
During the day we visited Holywell, Princes Park, the Harbour, and Pevensey Bay. At each site, EA representatives and their partner coastal defense designers and engineers spoke to the students about the potential plans and ambitions.
It was a magnificent event, which culminated at Eastbourne College, where schools took part in a decision-making exercise. Students soon realised that the plans to protect our coastline from the effects of climate change are going to have both positive and negative effects on the local stakeholders. Making the planning of the future Shoreline Management Plan incredibly complex. Overall, it was a fantastic in the field educational experience and we thank the EA, CSP, and Eastbourne College for organising and hosting.
Shinewater Family Fun Day and Eco Build Competition
Members of our Year 8 Eco Committee were involved in the Eastbourne Eco Build competition for many months, stretching from 2022 to 2023. The Eco Build was part of a family Fun Day that has been organised by Eastbourne Council. The aim was to produce a house that could be the blueprint for future houses. Including a vast variety of sustainable building techniques. Culminating in a house that is carbon neutral and beneficial to biodiversity in the local area.
Working with our building advisors from Morgan Sindall, the students finally presented their models, graphics, and storyboards to the Mayor of Eastbourne and the public at the Shinewater Family Fun Day.
It was a fun-filled day, and we achieved third place, which was a testament to the student's creativity and hard work. We would also like to thank Morgan Sindall for their excellent help in the process and for stretching our students to really think creatively.
The Eco Committee and representatives of the Student Leadership Eco School Champs are now focused on redeveloping our Eco Garden to its former glory, under the expert guidance of Mr Filtness. When their work is done, the Eco Graden will act as an additional learning and wellbeing area for students from across the school. It will also see the planting of saplings currently being nurtured in the Lower school under the Seeds4kids initiative, facilitated by Treebourne. These then maturing trees will be cared for in the Eco Graden until they are planted on the Eastbourne escarpment, as part of the Queens Platinum Jubilee legacy work.
All the Eco Committee's achievements so far would not have been possible, without the amazing students both present and previous. They have supported the growth of the Eco School fully and are fantastic students to work with.
The future looks incredibly positive and promising as we strive to take sustainability ideas to the next level, for both the school and the local community. Regaining our Eco Schools status for the next two years is a fantastic starting point for achieving our future aspirations.