Eco News

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

The School Gardens

In our kitchen garden we have 10 raised beds and an allotment area where we grow vegetables for the whole school to use. This is always linked to our curriculum. Some of our topics have included: global food recipes, Rio Olympic snacks, salads and summer pudding. We are hoping to grow more vegetables that can be used in our school lunches. The allotment area was funded through a grant from the Dorset Gardens Trust. Poundbury Rotarians rotavated the area and delivered the gravel and then over October half term volunteers landscaped it.

Foundation and Year 1 have a garden of their own near their classrooms and join in with the whole school garden project as well. This year each year group will be growing and making their own ‘Big Soup’. We are also planning to further develop our orchard areas with support from the Duchy of Cornwall which will ensure that our younger children have access to their own apple trees near to their garden as well as the main orchard.

In February 2018 gardening volunteers from Poundbury were enrolled to support children in the garden with their planting. We have fantastic links with local garden centres who donate seeds, potatoes, onion sets and vegetable plants on a regular basis. One has run a sunflower competition and garden bird collage competition in the past. Children have won prizes and so has the school.

The school was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society School Gardening Level 5 Award for demonstrating gardening skills, using produce from the School Kitchen Garden to make a dish and coming up with an enterprise idea to raise money for the school. The children chose to make a salad using potatoes, lettuce, spinach, courgettes and mint which they had grown.  They also made a summer pudding using soft fruit from the Kitchen Garden and mint tea.

 

Solar Panels

Our school has solar panels on the roof and solar lighting in the stores. On a sunny day most of the power for our school is generated from the panels. Dorset Community Energy are working with the school to fit an electricity and solar monitoring system so that children can monitor how much electricity is being used and how much impact the solar panels are having. Children and staff will be able to access the information on iPads and computers in their classrooms as well as it being shown on a screen outside the school office. The whole school has LED lighting and special sensors that turn the lights on and off automatically.

In February 2018 we launched a whole school project focused on renewable energy with guest speakers coming in to give talks and workshops to different year groups. These included Pete West and Alison Jay – Solar Energy, Peter James – Rainbarrow Farm, Vince and Keith – Solar, Hydro and Wind Turbines and Jonathan Dixon from Sustrans with a bike generator powering different appliances such as a radio, bubble machine and fairy lights.

 January 2018

Delphis Eco Turtle

Damers Eco Crew have a Delphis Eco Refill Turtle Station (click here for more info) and they sell cleaning products to both staff and parents.  As well as doing their bit for the environment their customers help to raise money for the school outside area and gardens through this enterprise. Damers Eco Crew are in the Courtyard after school on Mondays and Thursdays from 3.15pm – 3.30pm.

Damers Eco Crew have also invited other schools to see how their Eco Turtle works and schools have then bought their own Turtle as well as switching all their cleaning products to an environmentally friendly alternative.

International Eco Schools Twinning Programme

We have recently signed up to the Eco Schools Twinning Programme. We already have connections with a Kenyan school which two teachers visited a couple of years ago. Each year group looks at a country throughout the year comparing it with how we live in our country. We have good connections with DEED and also Poundbury Rotary who raise money for the same school in Kenya.

Poundbury Rotary joined the school for a community morning to plant  purple crocuses for polio. There was a great turn out of Poundbury Rotarians, school staff, children and their parents.

 December 2017

Bike-It

Mr Misun has worked hard over the year in conjunction with Sustrans to promote sustainable travel to and from school with a particular focus on bikes and scooters. We have bike shelters in the school grounds which have encouraged more children to come to school by bike or scooter. There is an adult bike rack next to the main school lychgate so that parents can leave their bikes as well. This was kindly donated by the Duchy of Cornwall.

We became the first primary school in Dorset to be awarded the Sustrans’ Silver School Mark Award for our outstanding commitment to cycling, scooting and walking to school.  The school has run incentive schemes and competitions, and regularly sees over 50 bikes and over 100 scooters in the shelters. The staff and parents are particularly enthusiastic, with the PTA helping to run many of the events which the school puts on to support this.

November 2017

Refill Poundbury 

The Eco Reps have been doing some work with Litter Free Dorset Coast and Sea on their Refill Dorset scheme. This is where customers can go into a business displaying a refill sticker and have their reusable water bottle filled up with tap water for free. The children wrote their own letter to local businesses before going out and about to try and persuade them to sign up to the scheme. They managed to get 20 businesses signed up. Please look out for the blue refill stickers around Poundbury and refill your reusable water bottle.

Damers Eco Crew launched Poundbury Refill with Litter Free Coast and Sea in November 2017 to local Poundbury businesses, Dorset Waste Partnership, Sustainable Dorset, Poundbury Rotary, PTA and school staff. They wrote and performed their own plastic bottle rap as well as announcing the 20 businesses that have signed up to the scheme. You can access the interactive map here or download the app to your phone to find the 20 businesses in Poundbury. 

Damers Eco Crew’s Dorset Refill Rap (watch it here) outlining the scheme was used as Eco Schools’ Christmas message on their social media sites. 

Damers Eco Crew were invited to take part in the ‘A Plastic Ocean’ film shown at the Thomas Hardye School in November 2017. The children made a display for the event sharing all their eco work which included Refill Dorset and sold their Spick ‘n’ Span Young Enterprise product.

CBBC Newsround found out about the children’s inspirational work through researching and reading the many media articles. They filmed the children speaking about their Refill Campaign and their views on plastic pollution, click here to watch them in action! The children were chosen as they were doing something unique.

The children are now working towards making the school Plastic Free. They are also mentoring other school children to support them in getting refill stations set up in their local towns.

Ellen MacArthur

Damers Eco Crew received a signed picture from Dame Ellen MacArthur! She saw their Refill Rap as well as reading all the media articles about their Refill Poundbury campaign and all the other eco projects they are doing. She thought that a signed picture was a well deserved reward for all their hard work.

 

 

 

 

Visit by HRH Prince Charles

HRH Prince Charles came to the school in November 2017 to see all the fantastic sustainability work and to open our new school. Prince Charles spoke to the children about plastic pollution and how important it is for the UK to follow ideas such as the Swedish plastic bottle deposit scheme. He also gave some tips to the children who were planting bulbs in the garden.

September 2017

Clarence House Visit 

Four children went on a very exciting trip to London in September 2017 to celebrate Damers Eco Crew’s achievement of winning two National Young Enterprise Awards. The day was organised by Mark Jankovich, CEO of Delphis Eco. We have used Delphis Eco ecological cleaning products in our school for the past two years. Their products are made from plant based materials.

During National Recycling Week, Delphis Eco launched the first ever post consumer 100% recycled plastic bottle. The children had the chance to meet Mark and share their views on plastic bottles as well as ask Mark lots of questions. Mark presented the Damers children with the second ever box of 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles. The first box had gone to Sir David Attenborough! Click here to read Mark Jankovich’s blog about Damers eco work with video clips of the children’s views about plastic bottles.

The children then went off for their very special reward and a visit to Clarence House. This was so special as the house is only open to the public during August. The children had a talk from Prince Charles’s Sustainability Officer about all the Prince’s eco work and the children talked about all the eco work they had done at school. They then had a tour of the house and were able to sit on the furniture and handle some items. There were many pictures of the royal family especially the Queen Mother, a solid silver model of Nelson’s flagship,The Victory, and a piano that Sir Elton John had played.

The garden had beehives (the children discovered that Prince Charles likes honey in his tea), a huge vegetable patch, compost, bug hotels and a huge range of different plants.

Recycling – What Have We Done So Far?

We have carried on recycling writing instruments and biscuit wrappers with Terracycle.  We are also recycling printing cartridges and toners with Empties Please, raising money for the school but also helping the environment. Poundbury Waitrose is also collecting for our school and has a white collection box in the store.  There are also many businesses in Poundbury who are now donating their cartridges and toners to the school as well.

July 17

Virgin Fiver Competition

In 2017 the Eco Reps and Entrepreneurs came together again to form Damers Eco Crew and entered the Young Enterprise Fiver Challenge for a second year. They came up with a product called ‘Spick ‘N’ Span’, a multi purpose cleaning block that can be used to clean your toilet, dishwasher, cooker, your nails, your fruit and even to freshen your air. It is made from bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar, coconut oil, natural food colouring and essential oils and is a 100% eco-friendly product. Their slogan was “ Make Everything Shine!”.

They worked with a local graphic designer to come up with a logo for their product and promoted it on Ridgeway Radio, click here to listen.  Their product was sold at numerous local businesses and through Alison Jay, Eco Officer at Dorset County Council. The children also sold their product at the school Summer Fair, outside the local supermarket, Poundbury Farmers Market and Dorset Food and Arts Festival. They made £720 profit. Damers Eco Crew won Best Group and Most Profitable Product at the Young Enterprise Fiver Awards Day in London in September 2017.

The children combined the money with that raised from last year’s Garden Grenades and bought a solar powered stopwatch for the school playground.

 June 2017

Village Show

Every year Year 2 put on a Village Show which has many categories including cakes, photography and miniature gardens.  This year there was an added feature proposed and supported by a Poundbury butcher – The ‘Sausagetacular’ Competition.  The children were invited to design a recipe for a meat or vegetarian sausage which could become our very own ‘Damers Sausage’. All the amazing recipes were shortlisted and 4 final ideas were chosen for the big sausage cook off.  The butchers made up the recipes and cooked them for the children, staff and parents to taste. 

A final winner was decided creating the winning recipe – ‘The Pizza Sausage’. Ingredients included mozzarella, sun dried tomato, herbs and chorizo.  The sausage was sold in the shop for a whole week and was a local favourite.  All proceeds from the sale were kindly donated to Damers First School PTA.

May 2017

Outdoor Classroom Day

Every year the whole school takes part in International Outdoor Classroom Day in May. It is a day that promotes children being inspired about outdoor learning and play. Children take part in lots of activities during the day in the school grounds. These have included maths, treasure hunts, gardening and minibeast exploring to name but a few. However, we do make the most of our outdoors on most other days too!

Forest Schools

An inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.’ (Forest Schools Association)

As a whole school we have embedded the principles of Forest Schools into our curriculum when learning outside through flower and tree identification, den building, fire lighting and cooking. The forest school area is developing with new trees being planted which will need time to establish themselves. There are two teachers within the school who have Level 3 Forest Schools qualifications and one who has recently qualified at Level 2. In our new school grounds we also have a fantastic outdoor classroom which is used to support learning in a setting that inspires awe and wonder.

April 2017

Habitats

If you wander to our kitchen garden you will see bird boxes which were made by Year 2 children with help from the Thomas Hardye School Design and Technology teachers. In the distance near our Forest School area are bird feeders as well as a bug hotel with solar lighting. We are currently raising money to install a bird hide into this area as well.

We have good links with Urban Heath, RSPB, Nigel Springs from Butterfly Conservation and East Dorset Bat Rescue and Rehab who all come into school during the year to run exciting workshops for the children.

Hedgehog Home

Linda Poulson from Hedgehog Friendly Dorchester donated a hedgehog home for our kitchen garden. It was placed under the Shepherd’s Hut to encourage the local hedgehogs to take up residence in the school grounds.

Compost

Dorset Waste Partnership donated compost bins and we had a highly informative whole-school assembly on composting to kick-start our knowledge of how to use our composting area. We have started to use the compost on our raised beds to help our vegetables grow.

July 2016

Virgin Fiver Competition

In 2016 a group of children in the Eco Club and Entrepreneur Club took part in the Virgin Fiver Challenge. The group came up with the idea of using the school’s recycled paper and wildflower seeds to make and sell ‘Garden Grenades’, a completely eco-friendly product. The children made the Garden Grenades, designed their own packaging and created the slogan “Just plant and watch them bloom!”. They sold their product at Poundbury Farmers’ Market, Dorset Food and Arts Festival, numerous local businesses and through Alison Jay, Eco Officer at Dorset County Council. They made £915 profit.

In July 2016, the children were announced as the winners of the Virgin Fiver 5 – 8 year olds Best Group Category, with 750 primary schools competing nationally. A small group of them went to an all expenses paid awards ceremony at the Ham Yard Hotel in Piccadilly, London in September 2016.

April 2016

Eco Schools

“Eco-Schools is an international award programme that guides schools on their sustainable journey, providing a framework to help embed these principles into the heart of school life.

In April 2016 we achieved the prestigious Eco Green Flag award. Only 13 schools in Dorset have achieved this award.  Gill Hickman (Eco Green Flag Assessor) said in her report:

There are obvious strengths in the school’s work in the global dimension, energy and grounds but it is the sheer scale and breadth of work in sustainability at Damers that is breathtaking. All staff support the agenda and the children clearly love it. Green Fingers are fine ambassadors for their school and should be congratulated for providing a particularly exciting tour of the school in action. The engagement and enthusiasm for education for sustainability by so many members off staff in different curriculum areas was highly impressive.”

Through a whole school approach we have embedded eco topics within our curriculum to include Energy, Waste, Recycling, Learning Outdoors, Global Learning,  Biodiversity and Transport. We will continue to develop these learning experiences.

Damers First School has an eco-committee called “Damers Eco Crew” and each class from Foundation to Year 4 nominates their own representatives.

2014

The Greenhouse

In eight weeks over the summer term 2014 we built an eco-greenhouse from recycled plastic water bottles. The whole school collected 1500 plastic bottles. The greenhouse was constructed by Year 3 and their teachers with support from Prince’s Trust volunteers. It was funded by a local businessman who is also a parent.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Plans for the future

We have many eco plans for the future, including:

  • planting and harvesting our vegetables for our big soup
  • using our new energy monitoring software in the classrooms to see how much electricity we use and the impact of our solar panels
  • working with our International Eco Schools Twinning Programme School
  • working towards becoming a plastic free school
  • hoping to raise money for Water Aid through a sponsored cycle and scoot.