23rd October 2019 — On Monday 14th October, Northbourne Park School welcomed a life size baby blue whale made from waste plastic packaging, to highlight the school’s intention to work towards ‘plastic free school’ status. The 'Plastic Free School' status scheme, co-ordinated by Surfers Against Sewage, encourages pupils to take the lead on tackling the use of plastic across the school. A current parent remarked, “What a fantastic visual impact the whale has. It was a great discussion point for our children."
The newly formed Northbourne Park School Eco Team have been investigating areas of the school where plastic could be cut down. The Eco Team plan to talk to the school's catering department as well as contacting school suppliers and raising awareness among other pupils and parents. Year 6 Eco team member Lily Sainsbury says, “I think the whale is a great way of getting the message out, and lots of parents have been taking photos of it so hopefully this will get them thinking.” The whale was created by local environmental group East Kent Climate Action, and is going to appear at various local events to raise awareness across the district of the hazards of plastic ending up in the ocean. It has already inspired pupils from the Nursery, who visited the whale and practised reading words they could recognise on the packaging, while Year 5 pupils were inspired to write about it in their English lesson.
Liz Hayes, Head of Geography and co-ordinator of the school Eco Team is passionate about helping young people take action for the environment. “Our pupils are aware of the problems our planet is facing, but are frustrated they can’t do anything. Working towards ‘Plastic Free School’ status will help them achieve something tangible within our school.” Eco Team members have been making plastic-free decorations out of recycled comics, to show the possibility of decorating for parties without the need for plastic balloons and banners. Next term they will turn their attention to Christmas, sharing ideas on how we can cut plastic use in the festive season, both at school and home.