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Green Schools

Sion Hill is a green school we have already been awarded four green flags. We, as a school community are committed to playing our part in keeping our environment clean and green. Our Environment Committee made up of representatives from each year work very hard to obtain and renew our green flags but it is up to each student to play her part in keeping our school tidy and environmentally friendly.

Litter and Waste Flag (Awarded 2006)

Litter and waste is the first theme as litter is a visible problem; both our students and local community have noticed improvements in the appearance and image of the school. Since receiving our Green Flag a cleaning rota was formulated to ensure the bins were being monitored during lunch and break. The bins are checked on a daily basis.  Incorrect items are removed and binned correctly. Our main target remains to recycle as much as possible paper, plastic and cans. Monthly academic reports are accessible via e-portal every parent is given a code to access e-portal and we are hoping this will soon replace paper reports being printed and posted out. Parents are notified by text message frequently to help save posting out information on paper. Every member of staff has been given a school email address and photocopying code and this has greatly reduced paper wastage.

Energy Flag (Awarded 2009)

 Energy is the second theme undertaken during the Green-Schools programme. Fossil fuels, the source of much of our energy are releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere faster than plants can absorb it. CO2 is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect which causes the average global temperature to rise. Climate change affects the distribution of climatic regions, sea level changes and ultimately, the planet’s ability to support human communities. Burning fossil fuels also contributes to acid rain, which is implicated in the loss of wildlife in lakes and rivers, the reduction of land fertility and the destruction of trees. However, there are certain steps we can take to start on our way to reducing our energy consumption at home and in school. Our Environment committee have put up signs to remind everyone to switch off energy guzzling equipment, to turn lights off and to close windows and doors in order to conserve energy. The IT coordinator ensures that students shut down all the computers and printers at the end of the day. No electrical equipment is left on standby overnight e.g. Photocopiers are turned off. An eco boiler was purchased to save energy.

Water Flag (Awarded 2011)

Water is the third theme we undertook as part of the Green-Schools programme. Most of us are guilty to some extent of taking water for granted. Water comes out of taps; it goes down drains; and in between we use it to brush our teeth or do the dishes. However, saving water is not just about saving money. Water is an important resource and a sufficient supply of clean water is essential to the health of both people and the environment. All of our food production and agriculture needs water. The raw material may appear to be plentiful, but worldwide, and even in parts of Ireland (particularly at certain times of year), it is an increasingly scarce resource. As a school we continue to promote world water day annually. We have a water fountain available for students and we encourage them make use of refillable sports bottles instead of buying bottled water. Push taps have been installed throughout our school and we have hippo bags in our toilet cisterns. The Home Economics and Science teachers only put on their dishwashers in the kitchen and labs when full and the remind students to never leave taps running during practical classes.

Travel Flag (Awarded 2013)

Travel is the fourth theme of the Green-Schools programme. As part of our action plan we set our own Travel targets, with the ultimate aim of increasing the number of pupils walking, cycling, park ‘n’ stride, carpooling or using public transport, which would ease congestion by reducing the number of private cars arriving at the school gates. By promoting sustainable transport modes (walking, cycling, car pooling or public transport), we hoped to also improve pupils’ safety, health and fitness. The journey to school is an ideal way for students to take part in regular physical activity, to interact with their peers, and to develop the road sense children need as pedestrians and cyclists. Alternative modes of transport also improve student’s alertness. We aim to lessen our overall impact on the environment, by reducing emissions and pollution.

Biodiversity Flag (Awarded 2015)

 Biodiversity is the fifth theme of the programme which we are about to start working on. Biodiversity is the huge variety and variation of life that surrounds us. Biodiversity is essential in keeping the environment healthy and fit for human life. Not only do we rely on biodiversity but our activities also have an effect on it. The Biodiversity theme will hopefully connect our school and our wider community with the natural environment and cultivate a sense of wonder, appreciation and value for all the biodiversity around us. 

Global Citizenship-Litter & Waste Flag (Awarded March 2017)

This theme will enable us to discover how our work on the Green-Schools programme can have a positive influence on people and their environments worldwide. Global Citizenship is so broad that this flag requires us to work on the Litter & Waste aspect of Global Citizenship first. Our Environment Committee have been and continue to raise awareness about how looking after our environment aids people all over the world. We are trying to promote and facilitate ‘Active Citizenship’. We have been integrating the Global Citizenship Litter & Waste ethos into our wider Green-Schools programme whilst attempting to make improvements to the Litter & Waste management in our school. Our overall aim is to create a knowledge and understanding about the link between environmental degradation and human rights. We hope all Sion Hill students will create real change by acting locally and effecting a more equitable, just and sustainable world for all

Global Citizenship-Energy (Awarded May 2019)

This is a maintenance theme which revisits our school’s efforts on the previous introductory energy flag. Global citizenship encourages us to expand and look at energy and climate issues worldwide. The most apparent global link to the energy theme is climate change. The problems associated with climate change are vast, and they impact both the environment and people all over the globe, in particular people in developing countries. We promote and facilitate active citizenship as we integrate this theme into our wider eco programme. Our environment committee carries out audits and reviews energy management within our school making a constant effort to reduce energy usage.

Global Citizenship Marine Environment (Sept 2019-May 2021)

This is the eighth theme of the Green-Schools programme which focuses on the 70% of our planet which is covered by oceans. The oceans and seas are generally accepted to be a global common; in other words, we are all equally responsible for its health as we all rely on the services it provides. Coastal and marine ecosystems are amongst the most productive ecosystems in the world. The ocean does an excellent job of absorbing excess heat from the atmosphere. So, as our planet warms, the seas get most of the extra energy. If they get too warm, the plants and animals that live there will die. Another unfortunate result of the oceans absorbing this excess CO2 is that it becomes more acidic which also has devastating effects on wildlife.  As we work towards attaining this flag, we will strive to reduce single-use plastic within our school and promote the importance of marine environments.