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Energy Footprint - Totally Unplugged
Can you imagine life with no electricity? Could you last a whole day in school with no electricity? How can we teach children to value energy sources and to help our school reduce its carbon footprint?
At South Molton Community Primary School we believe firmly in the importance of teaching children about environmental issues and ensuring outdoor learning plays a non-negotiable part in every child’s development. Children have become accustomed to flicking a switch and their electrical items springing to life, with very little thought about what powers this and how it is produced. This is something we feel that children need to learn about from a very young age and have reinforced throughout their time in education. Our termly ‘No Electricity’ days have become an essential part of our curriculum and provide the inspiring learning opportunities to get children interested and involved. We also use this as an opportunity to encourage outdoor learning in the natural environment, as without the lights, whiteboards and computers why not go out and use the amazing natural learning environment all around us.
Outdoor learning requires teachers to think creatively about how to adapt teaching for lessons without electricity and technology and I have seen many inspirational lessons being taught away from the confines of the classroom. It encourages children to be imaginative in their learning, inspire them to achieve and develop life skills. Every child at our school has a Forest School session once a week throughout the year and we feel this is a vital part of the curriculum. We use Forest School sessions to deliver a variety of curriculum subjects whilst giving children time to be independent, imaginative and creative in the outdoor area. A child in Year 2 described outdoor learning as the “Best part of the week because it is really exciting, fun and we learn lots”. Outdoor learning has taken on this important role as it demonstrates a significant positive effect on children’s well-being, concentration, resilience and a whole range of other skills. These skills have helped the children at our school to achieve very well and has been a hugely important part of the success the school has had in raising standards.
The ‘No Electricity’ days started a few years ago as an annual event and because of its success with the children and staff we have held termly days for the last 18 months. We have a different focus for each of these days and use them to be creative, imaginative and connected to the natural world around us. Alongside this we teach children that the mass production of electricity is one of the finest achievement of the human race to date, without which none of the recent technological advances would have been possible. What is even more amazing for children to learn is that we can create large scale electricity using renewable sources that don’t damage the environment or pollute the atmosphere. Unfortunately the way we create electricity, using non-renewable sources does damage the environment and can cause a huge amount of pollution.
The ‘No Electricity’ days have had a big impact on how the children think about and use electricity, with children often asking in assembly; “Do we need all the lights on in the hall?” Children have become far more aware of the need to conserve electricity where possible and to appreciate the availability of this, which may not always be the case in the future. In a world of declining resources to create electricity, population growth and a reluctance to put full weight behind renewable energy resources then the adults of the future will undoubtedly live in a world where electricity is no longer on demand at all times. This is a stark realisation to a generation that has been brought up with electricity always being available at the flick of a switch and all the new technologies relying on this supply. Curriculum links during no electricity days have a strong focus on STEM subjects. Considering how electricity is created and technology has been invented and developed through history is an ideal opportunity to expose children to future careers in STEM areas that they may not have been aware of. The great achievements of British and international scientists and inventors can be celebrated and used as a tool to inspire all children to make a difference in our world.
We have included below a resource pack of curriculum links to help plan your first No Electricity day that can link in with curriculum subjects or alternatively you could spend the whole day outdoors! If you would like any further information or would like any advice on setting up a No Electricity Day then please get in touch.
Outdoor Learning Environment
At South Molton Community Primary School we view the outdoor environment as an extension of the classroom and ensure that children experience a healthy balance of indoor and outdoor learning experiences. The environment around the school is very important to this and we have taken time and care to ensure it is provides exciting learning opportunities and resources to get close the natural learning environment. Children have the opportunity to get close to nature and plant various things and study them as they grow before using them to create some fantastic cooking! We are constantly looking at ways we can further improve the provision for children and have plans in the future to include animals, insects and fish in our school outdoor environment.
The Green Team
The Green Team have helped to remind children around the school about the ongoing importance of saving electricity by developing a colour coded system for electrical switches, with green stickers indicating a switch that can be turned off if not in use. A red sticker indicates a switch that children should never be turn off, with children taking responsibility for the monitoring of this. The team lead regular assemblies in reporting back on their work and can often be seen working as detectives around the school to assess any waste of electricity that might be occurring. A Green Team member said, “We really enjoyed learning about how to save electricity, it was fun sticking stickers around the school to help everyone save electricity and we love checking which classroom is wasting the most electricity!”
The Eco Council is a new concept at our school which will be formed of adults and children from across the school. This council will meet regularly to discuss action plans for the various environmental areas we focus on as a school. These are the outdoor environment, recycling, reducing water and electricity usage, inspiring other schools to be environmentally friendly and transport to school. These action plans will have both short and long term goals to achieve and ensure our school and community continue to challenge itself to be environmentally friendly. Look out for further updates from our meetings and priorities we will be focusing on this year.