How to green your school

School buildings, food, waste - even the curriculum itself should all support a connection to, and appreciation for, the environment. Here are some resources to get you started

With the carbon footprint of English schools already tipping 9.4 million tonnes CO2, many campaigns to 'green' schools are already underway. But reducing carbon is not the only goal. School buildings, food, waste - even school curriculum should all support a connection to, and appreciation for, the environment. 

The success stories so far prove that in many cases it is down to one or two dedicated teachers, parents or students to make a positive difference.

School food

The Food for Life Partnership is a network of communities across England committed to transforming food culture, one school at a time. Led by the Soil Association, the Food for Life Partnership website includes information on how to get involved, case studies, 'FoodTube' short films, events and more.

The Better Nursery Food Now campaign, led by the Soil Association and Organix, calls on the Government to put in place clear rules to ensure high quality food is served in all nurseries. It includes a Facebook page where dissatisfied parents and nursery workers can post their experiences.

The Garden Organic for Schools project, launched in 2000, now includes over 5,000 schools across the UK, and offers practical organic gardening advice, a quarterly newsletter, curriculum-based resources and free seeds.

The Merton Parents for Better Food in Schools was a response to ‘terrible schools meals across the borough'. To date, the campaign has won £450,000 from the council to refurbish primary school kitchens to cook fresh food on site and set up a twinning scheme with a nearby farm.

The School Food Matters website includes best practice case studies from around the country and ideas to get children cooking and growing and out onto a farm.

The Youth Food Movement (part of Slow Food) has a Slow Food on Campus programme.


The Carbon Detectives' Kit allows schools to work out their carbon footprint and compare them to other schools.

The Sustainable Learning programme encourages schools to make energy reductions of 10 per cent on average and develop a better understanding of how energy and water is used within their buildings.

Greening the school run

The Walk to School movement, run by the charity Living Streets, encourages children and parents to leave the car at home when it comes to the school run. Its annual walk-to-school month has inspired over two million primary school aged children take part in activities.

Ecologist Director, Zac Goldsmith, teamed up with students at Shene School to produce a short film for their successful campaign for a dedicated school bus.

The Department for Transport has produced a safer journey to school guide to promote and increase the use of sustainable modes of transport for school journeys.

School activities and education initiatives

Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute's Education Programme for young people. Its ‘Mission Possible' programme is a set of student and teacher resources for learning about, and improving, local environments.

Green Day is a climate change activity kit for schools from CABE, the Government's independent advisor on architecture, urban design and public space.

The Globe Programme is an environmental education project linking nearly 600 schools in the UK, which help measure the standard of the local environment at their school and compare it with others.

Cool it Schools, a global online climate change and environmental showcase, has just launched 'Writing the World', a poetry-writing competition for young people judged by poet Sue Hubbard. An Ecologist article describes how it aims to inspire students to act.

Eco-schools is an international award programme that guides schools through a seven-step process to help them address a variety of environmental issues, ranging from litter and waste to healthy living and biodiversity. Schools work towards gaining one of three awards - Bronze, Silver and the prestigious Green Flag award, which symbolises excellence in the field of environmental activity.

Climate Futures provides curriculum activities focused on unravelling the complexity of climate change and environmental issues for lower secondary and upper primary students (10-14 years old).


Footprint Friends launched the Wipe Out Waste (WOW) Awards, calling on students to present their ideas for reducing waste. A panel of green 'dragons' judge finalists' ideas, and the winning team will be asked to put their WOW idea into action. The 2009 winning idea was 'stop throwing away perfectly good pencils' from students at Canon Burrows C.E. Primary School.

An education pack from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust explains how to run a whole school litter campaign.

And this article from the Ecologist describes how Leeds University Student Union banned the sale of bottled water on campus.

Nature/growing activities

The Field Studies Council, an environmental charity, is looking for schools to be involved in its European wildlife survey project which will monitor six common tree species and compare results from all over Europe on the BEAGLE project website.

The Earth Restoration Service's School Tree Nurseries Programme is a tree-planting project with schools to restore local degraded habitats. In Lewes, East Sussex, for example, trees have been planted on flood plains in the hope that they will help to alleviate future flooding.

The National Forest's Forest for All Project involves children and teachers in learning about bugs and bats, tracks and trails and habitats.

CASE STUDY: Lewes New School pioneers curiosity-based learning
How do children learn? Is it through testing or open-ended class discussions aimed at piquing curiosity? Lizzie Overton, head teacher at Lewes New School, is spearheading a new approach to education
How to start a university eco society
Eleven easy steps to get you started - from picking your committee and spreading the word to making it fun and worthwhile
How green is your university?
From ‘First’ to ‘Failed’, student activist group People & Planet has created a new way of ranking the UK’s universities – according to their environmental credentials.
A school built for green education
The newly opened Langley science academy in Slough ticks just about every box - airy, light, modern interiors make for good learning environments, and the school building is stuffed full of eco features

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