At Varndean School we have made a deliberate commitment as a community to tackle the challenges of a changing climate and empower our young people with the knowledge, understanding and tools to go out into the wider world and face them head on.
We are a leading school in the fully-funded Brighton and Hove Council “Our City, Our World” climate change, sustainability and environmental education programme. Below is how we intend to grow, adapt and future proof our educational provision for our young people and our staff community.
Lead Teacher: Climate Change Strategy & Food and Nutrition
Recommended reading for carbon literacy, climate and the environment:
Draw Down: Ed Hawkins
The Carbon Almanac: Seth Godin
State of the Ark: Lee Durrell
To provide a comprehensive education in Climate Change that empowers our students to make positive change both now and in their future adult lives
At Varndean, we have Teachers from all subjects and departments delivering on a new Climate Curriculum, with the objective of giving our students a fully rounded back story and context in a range of subject settings, so they can better understand the breadth and gravity of the challenges we face. Our eight point curriculum plan has been specially designed around the Leeds University model and adapted to meet the needs of a secondary school setting. This means that students will receive education on how climate change happened, is affecting and will affect us in the future in all subjects from the more obvious Geography and Science lessons through to Technology, Dance, Drama, Art, Music, Philosophy, History and Mathematics to name a few.
To have renewable power systems contributing at least 30% of our required energy by 2026
We have the challenges of running large, old buildings with a variety of different technology and (fossil) fuel types, but over the coming years we have plans to harness the real potential of solar energy from our south facing perspective and large roof areas. With new technology being developed every year, we believe that schools can lead the way in terms of demonstrating how large facilities can operate carbon neutrally.
By 2025 to have 80% plant-based dishes with free range chicken and fish only remaining, and using locally sourced ingredients where we can
We are lucky enough to have our own in-house catering team at Varndean, led by passionate catering staff which means we can adapt, improve and rethink our food offering without being governed by a catering contractor. As such, we have been able to increase our offering of vegetarian, vegan and plant-based meals and products whilst steadily decreasing our meat products. One of the first changes we made was to remove single use plastic food cartons three years ago and swap for Vegware. Our goal by 2025 is to have 80% plant-based dishes with free range chicken and fish only remaining, and using locally sourced ingredients where we can.
To have thirty percent of the unused school site given over to habitat for wildlife species by 2025
Our school sits on the Surrenden Campus which offers a huge opportunity to all the surrounding schools we share this land with in terms of improving habitat for Nature. Connecting with and regenerating Nature is one of the most important actions young people can take to mitigate climate change. Our future adults simply must respect Nature and hold it in their highest regard if we are to safeguard our planet for future generations. Schools have a huge opportunity to demonstrate how institutions both commercial and public can make a significant positive impact upon the environment.
At Varndean we have undertaken several projects around the school grounds which have seen the establishment of a Forest School, two wildlife ponds, fifteen bird nest boxes, three giant bug hotels, ten bat dens, three wild flower meadows, some sixty trees planted with a further fifty planned over the next two years. As of 2022, our goal is for every year 7 and year 11 tutor group to plant a tree each year until 2026 (as they begin and end their time at Varndean). We aim to have thirty percent of the school site given over to habitat for wildlife species by 2025.
To have a full complement of climate conscious, earth positive suppliers resourcing our school material and consumables by 2025
A school can consume a huge amount of material and resources, from exercise books, pens and paints to leavers' hoodies. We are now taking a second look at each product and supplier and casting a green lens over them so we can support companies who are making a genuine effort towards climate change action.
The new approaches and work that young people and school staff have shown so far proves that climate change poses not just a threat and a menace to our way of life, but an opportunity for creative problem solving and a chance to regenerate and restore the natural beauty of our precious and one of a kind, Planet Earth. When the time comes to hand it over to this generation, we are gaining hope and confidence with every week that goes by.
To have unlimited representation from the student community through providing opportunities for Climate Leadership
Our student community has elected a team of over eighty Form Eco Reps across all year groups, led by three Senior Students for Climate. This action group meets at the beginning of every half term to deliver objectives for education, debate, and action at a grass roots, student voice level.