In 2021, Groundwork East began working with Net Zero Leiston and Alde Valley Academy to develop a climate change action project with the school, as part of the town’s ambition to create a pathway to net zero.

The project began by engaging students in Years 7, 8, and 9 with a short survey to find out what environmental issues they were most concerned about. 96 responses were received with students being most concerned about climate change (23%), loss of habitats (21%) and plastic pollution (18%).

When asked what the school should do to reduce its environmental impact, students believed the school
should increase recycling (35%), use less single use plastic (32%), and encourage more walking and cycling (29%).

The survey was followed by a detailed on-site environmental review carried out by a Groundwork Advisor. The review included analysing current electricity and fuel use, water consumption and waste production across the school site. The school’s carbon footprint was calculated and a series of priority recommendations were made which identified potential annual carbon savings of 235tCO e and potential cost savings of £32,028.

Recommendations ranged from no to low cost measures that staff and students can undertake on a daily basis, to higher cost measures requiring additional investment in the school’s infrastructure and equipment.

Following the on-site review, Groundwork ran an assembly with students to engage them with the findings of the review. Students were also asked whether they wanted to become a Green Guardian.

The Green Guardian scheme enables the students that volunteer to take an active part in tackling climate change by making the school more sustainable. The students have the opportunity to work more closely with Groundwork and Net Zero Leiston to gain a deeper understanding of the energy and waste site audit process and champion findings around the school.

17 enthusiastic students from Years 7, 8, and 9 volunteered to become Green Guardians, which demonstrates how important climate change is to the students of Alde Valley Academy. Groundwork ran a series of workshops with the Green Guardians to discuss some of the simple actions they can take forward to start making a difference in the school and help them understand how they can raise awareness and sustain interest and engagement around the issues highlighted in the survey and environmental review.

Student feedback gathered during the Green Guardian Workshops included:

“We only have one planet and want the school to improve. We are particularly concerned about the lack of recycling”. – Group of Year 7 Students

“I have always been interested in environmentalism and am always shocked by the litter left by other pupils at lunch time around the school.” – William, Year 9