Every school should be an Eco-School – Durkan

Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, today returned to the classroom at the latest school to register with the Eco-Schools better environment programme.

Visiting Sacred Heart Primary School in Derry, the Minister met with the young Eco-Committee which will lead the school and the wider community as they embark on changing attitudes to and behaviours for the environment.

The Minister attended a special lesson with the children to learn how their school is now working to get a Green Flag award which will require the completion of a seven step process focusing on nine key areas including energy, litter and waste.

The Minister said: “Eco-Schools is the world’s largest environmental education programme operating in 58 countries from South Africa to the USA, Mongolia to Malaysia. It involves over 13 million pupils, more than 800,000 teachers and numerous other parents, governors and caretakers.

“Sacred Heart Primary School is the latest in a long list of schools here which are part of this exciting programme. Learning topics include Climate Change and its global effects. The work children are doing here in Derry may seem far removed from the current disaster in the Philippines but fundamentally the steps they are about to take could make a difference, not just locally but globally.”

2014 will mark the 20th anniversary of Eco-Schools and Northern Ireland can be especially proud of receiving the first ever Green Flag awarded in the world. The flag, which was earned by Downpatrick Nursery School in 1994, must be renewed every two years, in line with the programme’s ethos of continual improvement and the school still retains a current Award today.

Last month the Minister wrote to the schools not yet registered with the Eco-Schools programme to encourage them to do so. 1,080 schools have now registered representing 90% of all schools in Northern Ireland.

The Minister continued: “It is my vision to see “Every School an Eco-School” and I ask the remaining 122 schools to join this Young Eco-Army and take up the environmental gauntlet.”

Now in his tenth year as Principal of Sacred Heart Primary School, Brendan Bradley, commented: “It’s an absolute privilege to serve such a great community and we are delighted that the Minister has visited us today to encourage us as we begin working towards our Green Flag Award.”