Energy in the Countryside

Hosting energy workshops and training for teachers and pupils across the South West

Project duration: November 2008 to June 2009

In last 2008, CSE began a project to help school teachers and their pupils transform the way they act on energy.
 
Supported by the Ernest Cook Trust, ‘Energy in the Countryside’ was aimed at supporting schools across the South West by providing curriculum-linked energy education workshops and training. These were hosted in a number of countryside visitor sites at Goblin Combe, Yeo Valley, Folly Farm, Longleat and Castle School.
 
Through the project, CSE set out to encourage teachers from across the region to learn how they were able to save their schools energy and money, as well as teaching children about sustainable energy issues.
 
Almost 100 teachers – including over 30 head teachers and 10 bursars – from various local authorities and independent schools took part in the training, and a total of 30 children’s workshops were also held.
 
To make use of the unique facilities that each centre offered, the workshops were adapted to suit the venue.
 
At Yeo Valley, for example, the venue’s solar panels and biomass boiler provided the opportunity to discuss and investigate the technologies in interactive group work. In comparison, the use of Goblin Combe with its newly built accommodation block turned the emphasis to energy efficiency and this led to pupils planning and building a model energy efficient school.

Teachers’ workshops
 
At their workshops, the teachers were invited to discuss the different challenges each of their schools faced regarding energy consumption, and were also then encouraged to incorporate the sustainability message within the curriculum at their schools.
 
The subjects covered in the workshops were:
curriculum links and sustainability
energy resources for schools
energy auditing in school
renewable energy for schools
At the Yeo Valley and Goblin Combe workshops, a tour of the educational facilities also led to many of the teachers booking the facilities to extend their pupils learning outside the classroom.
 
Pupils’ workshops
 
These workshops were curriculum-linked and covered energy efficiency, renewable energy and citizenship. The activities were designed to be fun, engaging and informative, and involved energy efficiency and renewable energy activities, such as investigating solar energy with solar powered spinning plates or boats.
 
Pupils from more than 30 schools took part in the project, including:
 
St Vigour and St John | Fairfield School | East Harptree | Nailsea PRU | Flax Bourton School (Y6) | Churchill Primary | All Hallows School (Girls) | All Hallows School (Boys) | Flax Bourton School (Y5) | Procurn CofE | Mary Elton Primary | Christchurch Primary | Churchill Secondary | Alexander Hosea Primary | Youth Groups | St Marys Primary | Barrs Court Primary | School | Tynings Primary School | Horton Primary School | Manorbrook | Primary School | St Stephens Infant School | Barley Close Primary School | Kings Court Primary School | Longwell Green Primary School | Worle school | Crispin School | Haygrove School
 
Conclusions
 
Following the completion of the project feedback was very positive, with both children and their teachers valuing the opportunity to work in the countryside. Work was enhanced by the surroundings and this was particularly the case with schools from the inner city, who engaged well with the countryside settings.
 
Questionnaires completed by the teachers also demonstrated how CSE’s work has helped transform the way young people understand and act on their energy consumption, as well as helping them and their families become ‘energy-wise’ and environmentally conscious.
 
CSE also received excellent feedback from teachers and since then they have all incorporated energy saving in their schools. Such involvement from decision-makers within the school has put into place a foundation for long term change in how energy is managed in the future. Many of the teachers have also since asked CSE for further assistance with training.
 
Many positive comments were received from teachers and pupils alike, with one teacher describing it as: “An excellent day. Good fun and useful! Feel very motivated to get going now. Thank you!”. Perhaps the reaction of one pupil summed up best the difference the project is likely to have in embeding the energy saving message with their comment: “When I go home tonight, I’m going to make sure I turn out the lights when I leave a room.”

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