Environment, health and wellbeing in schools

There is significant evidence that links the changing climate and the impact on the health and wellbeing of the population. There are also positive steps that schools can take within the work they do to create a Well Culture, from reducing emissions around the school campus, reducing waste and giving children access to green space and good food.

Below are some top tips and areas for consideration as part of your steps to success in creating your Well School:

Getting to school

One of the main areas where you can have an effect is choosing how your child gets to school. Private car travel is a big source of carbon emissions, so finding alternative ways of getting to school will make a difference.

Things you could do include:

  • encourage active travel and greener methods of transport – cycling, walking or public transport
  • nominate one day a week (or more) as a walk or cycle to school day
  • suggest that your school supplies pupils with secure cycle sheds and safe routes to school
  • if you have to travel by car, see if you can share with a neighbour or friend
  • create off-site parking zones with walking buses away from the school gates.

Food and drink at school

Producing, transporting and consuming food is responsible for nearly a third of the impact on climate change. Choices about packed lunches, tuck shops and the canteen can help the environment - and can often have additional benefits for children’s health:

  • suggest stocking fresh, locally in season or Fairtrade produce in the tuck shop or canteen
  • suggest, or offer to set up, a school fruit and vegetable garden; this could also provide many learning opportunities and links to the curriculum
  • use a sturdy lunch box and drink bottles you can reuse to cut down on packaging waste.
  • introduce water fountains and reduce the sale of fizzy drinks or bottled water onsite.

Reducing waste at school

There are many opportunities to reduce waste at school. For example, you could encourage the school to:

  • set up recycling bins in the classroom and encourage pupils to recycle
  • reduce the amount of packaged goods in lunchboxes to cut down the amount of waste
  • use both sides of paper to reduce waste
  • set up a scheme to encourage pupils to pass on or sell old text books to other pupils once they’ve finished with them or introduce a uniform exchange shop
  • consider setting up a compost bin at the school to reduce food waste.

Saving energy at school

Saving energy can both save money and help the environment. Suggestions for saving energy in a school could include:

  • encouraging pupils to turn off lights and electronic equipment when they have finished using them
  • switching off computer monitors and printers properly instead of leaving them on standby
  • considering using energy saving light bulbs at the school, or even alternative energy sources for heating, like wind or solar power.

Safe spaces

Access to indoor and outdoor spaces that are clutter free and allow for play and movement are important to embed and enhance learning, as well as impact on individual health and wellbeing:

  • providing green spaces for children to explore and learn, even just to be active
  • introduction of Forest Schools, or an opportunity to engage with nature
  • reducing litter and hazards in outdoor spaces
  • Moving physical barriers such as chairs and tables to aid movement and flow around the school and in the classroom
  • Good ventilation for learning and movement/eating spaces.

These are just a few examples we have seen other schools doing…but this isn’t everything that is possible!

What do other @schools do to create an environment that is good for their whole school wellbeing?