Who we are
Sustainable living and learning is at the heart of the curriculum and everything we do at Ashley, with all our half termly topics directly linked to an element of sustainable living. We look to develop energy and environmentally conscious individuals who care about the world around them and understand what is required to sustain individual, team and global well-being. This is an approach that is supported by Ofsted :
“Education for sustainable development is about equipping learners with the skills, knowledge and understanding to be effective citizens in a complex and changing world through the curriculum… Through education, people may develop the knowledge, values and skills to participate in decisions about the way we do things, individually and collectively, locally and globally, that will improve quality of life now without damaging the planet in the future.” (Ofsted, Sustainable Development in Learning and Skills Inspections, February 2012.)
Here is a video sharing how we live and learn at Ashley School:
“Sustainability is loving everything and everyone!!!” (Maya Lewsey)
“For me sustainability means looking after our world and our friends.” (Tom Davis)
“To me, sustainability is caring for our world and living in harmony with it.” (Alex Barlow)
“Sustainability means respecting the lifecycle of interdependence in everything.”(Kiry Valambhia)
What’s been going on at Ashley?
Year 4 Visit to Bore Place Farm
On the 23rd and 24th October, Year 4 visited Bore Place organic farm in Chiddingston, Kent. This was the first time Ashley has visited Bore Place as we begin a partnership with Bore Place farm so that we can deepen and further the children’s education around food growing and ethics.
The morning activity linked the year group’s Tudor topic with ingredients and cooking. The children worked in small groups preparing dough for a Tudor recipe. Whilst the dough was rising, the groups moved outside to explore the organic food growing areas and learnt about the different vegetable families and how they are related. Back into the kitchen, currents, orange zest, apples and all spice were added to the dough; one final knead and the breads went into the oven. Following that, the children explored the organic dairy farm. It was fascinating watching the afternoon milking whilst learning about how the farm reuses any waste to feed either the food growing or as silage – similar to what we do at school. And of course, it was lovely seeing the cute calves too! Finally, we said goodbye to the fantastic staff at the farm with our warm Tudor buns safely packed away. Here are a few words from the children on their learning:
“I learnt being a dairy farmer is a very hard job, looking after all the animals and getting up so early everyday.” (Beth)
“My favourite part of the cooking was getting my hands in the dough and kneading it. It was fun making a Tudor recipe.” (Luca)
“I think it’s better to grow organic food because it doesn’t have chemicals in it that could harm us.” (Amy)
“I learnt how we can use waste to help other things grow and live.” (Max)
Year 2 Visit the Naked Grocer and Allotments
Year 2′s autumn topic is ‘What do I need to be healthy?’ As a result, they visited the Naked Grocer and Walton allotments to learn about healthy, seasonal foods. They have been finding out where fruit and vegetables are grown around the world and the Naked Grocer explained how they try to source foods that are grown locally (all fruit and vegetables that go into our school lunches that we do not grow at school come from the Naked Grocer). For their Great Work, Year 2 will be collecting food from our school field and the Naked Grocer to make a healthy lunch for the parents – including a quiche and jacket potatoes with a healthy filling. Thank you to the Naked Grocer for your continued support to our school.
Ashley School Green Stall
The Ashley School Green Stall is a twice-termly stall which has grown from strength to strength since it began four years ago. Parents and children from each year group are given the opportunity once a year to celebrate seasonal home-made food and other items to share with the rest of the school community. Often linking in with the year group topics of that term, the children are invited to contribute to the stall by producing home-made goodies in class with the help of Rachel in the school kitchen. Home-made seasonal produce is also contributed by the children and parents from home including delicious cakes and biscuits, home-grown produce, refreshing home-made cordials, jams and chutneys, etc. Fruits, herbs and vegetables from the school growing areas are often available to buy at these stalls, as well our Ashley School honey at certain times of the year. The monies raised by the Green Stall are used for growing projects around the school grounds.
How do we approach the different dimensions of sustainability?
Ashley is rated as the best school in Surrey for energy consumption when compared to schools with similar buildings – take a look at our Display Energy Certificate DEC. We achieve this in two ways: by producing our own renewable energy through our solar panels and locally sourced woodchip biomass boiler, and by energy saving methods. Our year six children monitor our energy on a daily basis using ecoDriver software. Each school building has a weekly energy target agreed by the eco council. In our achievers assembly every week, the year six eco council share whether targets have been achieved. Each time a building achieves its target, the children receive £5 in savings from Mr Dunne. Click on the ecoDriver link to see how much energy we are using and creating right now.
In the summer term Ashley School runs the ‘100 Club Challenge’, where families are challenged to reduce their energy to under 100kWh a week. Those who are successful are celebrated in assembly and receive one of our coveted certificates; we also have a ’50 club’ for our super savers. There is a strong message in school and at home that we can save both money and the environment if we reduce our energy. Read about our project in greater detail on the Eco Schools case study page.
Healthy Living and Food
Ashley School grows a significant amount of food, with approximately 25% of the vegetables we eat grown on site, significantly reducing the effects of both transport and needless packaging on the environment. In the last year we have planted a heritage Surrey apple orchard with 32 varieties, potato beds with 26 varieties, 24 varieties of gooseberries and a pear orchard with 21 local varieties. We want our children to see that the food cycle is a closed loop system where all the waste becomes fuel for the next round of food growing. Year five, Owl Class, are responsible for food waste weighing and measuring with our kitchen staff. They work out where and how we can reduce the amount we waste before recycling it into our Ridan composter. Take a look at our food waste measurement on ecoDriver.
Our food growing programme encourages children to see food as something they can grow from seed, rather than something you have to buy in a shop. We have expanded our food growing from seven vegetable beds to five growing zones and a greenhouse. We grow a diverse range of food throughout the year. Our part-time gardener works with the children on our food growing projects, running termly sessions through the seasons and liaising closely with our kitchen in providing school-grown food every week. Read more about how our project helps combat climate change on the Eco Schools case studies site.
We believe our work is inspiring others in similar projects. In September 2011, the Co-operative launched their ‘Green Schools Revolution’ programme live on breakfast television in front of our food growing areas – take a look at the video here: Green Schools Revolution. In March 2012, we were the feature school for a BBC Learning Zone Eco Maths lesson on how to reduce food miles by growing food on-site (Ashley is featured from 6 minutes 6 seconds into the clip). In July 2012, our Surrey heritage apple orchard was replicated as an RHS Wisley garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show to promote diversity in food growing.
Also, in July 2012 our school kitchen was recognised as the UK Primary School Catering Team of the Year, awarded by LACA (Local Authorities Caters Association), for its work in closing the loop on food production and sharing its practice with other schools. In our school lunches all our milk is organic, our meat is free range and wherever possible organic, and our fruit and vegetables are both seasonal and locally sourced. If we cannot provide fruit and vegetables from our own extensive food growing areas, we work with our local green grocer to ensure the significant majority of any additional fruit and vegetables are supplied from farms within the home counties. In November 2012, our children led the first ever live Skype lesson on food, run by the NGO ActionAid, in which the children taught a lesson on food growing to three schools in London, Liverpool and Texas, USA. Have a read of our blog on the ActionAid website.
Whilst we strongly encourage children to enjoy our family style school lunches, largely locally sourced, organic and always healthy, we also encourage families who choose packed lunches to prepare healthy, waste free meals. Please take a look our advice on How to Prepare Healthy Packed Lunches and also How to Prepare Waste Free Lunches.
In addition to these ideas, so that we can be as sustainable as possible, you might like to think about:
- Are the ingredients used in season?
- Where has the lunch and its contents been grown or produced? Is it local or has it come from overseas?
- Has the lunch and its contents been sourced from a fair-trade producer?
- Cost permitting, is the food organic and / or free range?
Year four, Kingfisher Class, support the promotion and sale of Delphis Eco cleaning products at school. Delphis Eco cleaning products are plant based products that contain no harmful chemicals. They are used throughout school and are available to purchase outside our school office for a very reasonable price.
At Ashley we have two bee hives. The year two children participate in learning around the lifecycle of a honey bee and we have already produced and sold some delicious organic honey.
As a result of a year six Design for Change project, we have a bird hide on our school field. The year six children run a bird watching club with the juniors, and all of the school participates in the RSPB Big Schools Bird Watch in January.
We have five healthy chickens which are cared for by the children. They roam our grounds throughout the day and give us eggs every morning. We take great pride in the diversity of food, as already mentioned. A sustainable future is about celebrating diversity in all things.
Recycling and Waste
At Ashley, each class has recycling bins and we do our best to reduce, reuse and recycle. Year three are responsible for monitoring our litter and recycling. Each week they record how much waste is produced in all the classrooms and staffroom; they also do a weekly litter pick around our school grounds. For those children who have a packed lunch, we strongly encourage parents to provide lunches free of packaging.
Year five, Owl Class, are responsible for measuring food waste. Everyday they weigh the waste and update the weight and menu to ecoDriver. They then review the lunches and speak to the kitchen to help design a lunch menu that produces as little waste as possible. Any food waste we create at school is composted, which is monitored by our year one children. We have two composts at school: our compost on the field for fruit, teabags and vegetables; and our Ridan composter which allows us to compost cooked food waste. Our food waste is in fact fuel for our food growing.
We ensure that we do not waste water in school. Year five, Kestrel Class, are responsible for monitoring our water use. They check the meters on ecoDriver every week and look for ways to make further savings. Year five co-ordinated a Cycle for Water fundraising campaign in 2012. The event captured the emotions of the whole school on how vital water is to our world and raised £6,500 which has funded water projects for schools in Thailand and Honduras. Click on the link to see the truly inspirational Cycle for Water video showcasing our fundraising efforts.
We are one of the best schools in Surrey for utilising green modes of transport to school. A large proportion of our children cycle, scoot or walk to school – methods embraced by our staff as well. Each year we take part in the Golden Boot Challenge where each class monitors our modes of transport to school for a month. A campaign started by our reception children in the summer of 2012 has resulted in a new, safer road network outside school. The reception children were concerned by the fast traffic and spoke to the local council who have subsequently reduced the traffic from Ashley Road onto the one way system to a one lane entry.
Year four, Swan Class, are responsible for promoting fair trade products in school. They try to ensure that food and items bought from overseas are fair trade products, as well as sharing their understanding with the rest of the school.
Ashley has a partner school in Uganda, who year three link with during their summer topic focus on rainforests. We also have a link with the Riverside School in India, who inspired us to engage in Design for Change projects every term, where each class acts to improve an issue that concerns them, either in school, in the local community or in the wider world. Year six visit Chamonix, France, in June for their New Leaders in Sustainability expedition. Click on the New Leaders in Sustainbility link to read last year’s blog and watch the fantastic video to see what the children get up to. The trip focuses on what we need to be well and live in harmony with our world, and the children look at the impact of climate change first hand, seeing and touching the nearby Mer de Glace glacier which is melting at a worrying speed. During the trip, the children make pledges on how they will positively impact their individual, team and global well-being.
Our successes in developing a leading eco school have been achieved through partnerships. We embrace our local community and businesses and realise that to be sustainable, we must all support each other. Here are some of the partners who continue to support Ashley in our work in sustainability:
We ensure at school that all of our office supplies and the paper we used to make resources for the children’s learning, come from a sustainable source, made from recycled materials. Wiles Greeworld are one of the leading green office suppliers in the country and were awarded Best Green Company by The Sunday Times in 2011. In addition, Wiles Greenworld share our passions and have made substantial sponsorship donations for our year six Chamonix expeditions. Have a look at their website for details: Wiles Greenworld
The Naked Grocer
We are lucky to have a fantastic local green grocers close to school who share our values and outlook on food growing. The Naked Grocer in Walton support local and UK growers first and our very proud of the UK’s agricultural and horticultural history. They try to sell any imported goods that cannot be grown in the UK by seafreight to minimise the impact of transportation on the environment. They got their name because they do not use needless packaging to store and sell their produce – an approach that everyone at Ashley wholeheartedly embraces. Our children have visited the grocers and seen first hand how nearby supermarkets do things differently, and in our children’s minds, wastefully. Just visit The Naked Grocer website to order an organic fruit and vegetable box delivered to your door.
Bore Place Organic Farm
From 2013, Ashley School has developed a partnership with Bore Place Farm in Chiddingston, Kent. Bore Place offers education for children and adults on organic farming and sustainable living. The farm hosts approximately 250 dairy cows and a variety of vegetable and fruit growing areas. The impressive educational centre is made from entirely sustainable materials, with energy generated from its solar panels, wind turbine and woodchip biomass boiler. Currently, our year four children visit the farm to learn about organic farming.
Food for Life
Food for Life Partnership is an organisation that encourages and supports schools to embed food education into their curriculum. The partnership is about bringing people together – teachers, pupils, families, cooks, caterers, farmers and the wider community – to enjoy good, wholesome food and change food culture in England significantly. Ashley School is currently working towards the Food for Life Gold Award.
The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts
The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts is based in Shoreditch, London, and is one of the Prince of Wales’ core charities. The school offers post graduate programmes for the study of traditional arts. Following the Prince of Wales’ book ‘Harmony’, Ashley School was invited to Clarence House to meet with the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts to develop a programme supporting teachers and educationalists to link subjects across the curriculum with traditional arts and the natural world. In the 2013-14 academic year, the Harmony workshops will take place over four day-long workshops held at Ashley for over 60 educationalists.
In March 2012 the Co-operative launched their Green Schools Revolution at Ashley School. The Co-operative supports schools in their work around sustainability and food growing. Ashley has worked with the Co-operative to help develop ideas for engaging more children and schools in sustainability. Take a look at the video for the Green Schools Revolution, when the Co-operative and TV farmer and food grower Jimmy Doherty visited Ashley. The visit was televised live on ITV morning Daybreak.
ActionAid is a global charity that fights for a world without poverty. In 2010, ActionAid worked with our headteacher, Richard Dunne, on the 10:10 campaign – a national drive to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by 10% during 2010. In October 2012, Ashley worked in collaboration with ActionAid again – this time producing a first ever live Skype lesson. The lesson was led by four year six children from Ashley, teaching children in three schools in London, Liverpool and Texas, USA, on potato growing. Read our blog on the ActionAid website.