The initiatives are one of a number that have been implemented since the start of term at Harriers Academy after pupils were inspired by eco-activist Greta Thunberg and United Nations climate change conference COP26.
The work has been supported by a ‘Harriers Parliament,’ which has six councils that feed into the ‘Cabinet’ where ideas to improve the school are given the go-ahead.
Year three student Bella Fisher is a councillor for the Eco Council and has played an instrumental role in bolstering the school’s green credentials through daily litter picks with her friends.
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Principal Alex Pearson said he was impressed and delighted with Bella’s efforts.
He said: ‘’Bella convinced her mother Terri to buy her litter picks and she and her friends will do a daily litter pick of the grounds in the morning before school starts and then will also do one in the afternoon if they have time.
‘’Bella has also been instrumental in starting a discussion about single-use plastic at school. Her efforts are an inspiration to her peers.’’
Bella is also one of a number of students at Harriers who has been planting bulbs and seeds to develop the wild meadow.
Bella’s mum, Terri, also put the school in touch with Tila Rodriguez-Past, who has helped to organise nature and gardening events at Banbury’s Bridge Street Garden. Ms Rodriguez-Past kindly passed on her advice and guidance. The area of land is approximately 80sq metres, and so far over 200 bulbs have been planted and 1kg of wild seed sprinkled across it. The students are excited to see the first plants blossom in April.
Bella, who is seven, said: ‘’The wild meadow is very important to me as I want to encourage butterflies to visit the school. I’m also looking forward to having a bench where I can sit and enjoy the meadow.
"I want to do something to help the planet, and it makes me happy to know the wild meadow and the litter picks help me to do that. It’s nice to do things with my friends, and other students thank us for the litter picks. It’s the little things that you do that add up to making a big difference.’’
Mrs Martha Bell, nursery lead and forest school leader at Harriers is also head of the eco council.
She said: ‘’The children think it’s brilliant. They had all the tools out and it’s been interesting to explain to them that it’s something that will take months to transform and they will be helping the bees and butterflies. The work also complements all that they learn and do during their Forest School sessions.
‘’The children are taking part in an eco-conversation that is happening globally and nationally. They are starting their journey at Harriers and hopefully the awareness they are given will become a lifetime choice.’’
Mr Pearson said the decision to set up a ‘Harriers Parliament’ was motivated by a desire to give the students a bigger voice, responsibility and encourage leadership and decision-making skills.
Amelie Holmes and Jeddeed Bangura have been appointed Junior Principals at Harriers. They have also helped to champion the wildflower meadow and other green initiatives at the school.
Amelie said: ‘’Without the environment there will be no flowers and no life. We are teaching the young ones - if we do this now, they will be helping to spread the eco message. A lot of big things start from little steps and we can help to bring change.’’
Jeddeed added: ‘’I like helping the younger children and I enjoyed being involved in the digging and planting of the wildflower meadow. I am very excited to see what the wildflower garden will look like in a few months.’’