Newsletters

A stylised green person growing into a green tree between the pages of a book with white pages on the right and blue pages on the left, all on a white background.

 

2021-22

 

Fri 24th September

Eco-Schools

We are already having fun while learning about and taking action to prevent climate change, all the while working towards achieving our first Green Flag award and Plastic Free Schools status. Although the Eco-Committee will be steering our actions, all pupils and staff are encouraged to participate so please do encourage your young person to get involved. With COP26 arriving in Glasgow in November, there are so many Eco events, opportunities and competitions around at the moment, so keep your eyes peeled!

Eco-Committee

The Eco-Committee showed their support of Plastic Free Helensburgh during their 1st committee meeting by signing a pledge to:

  • work to remove at least 3 items of single-use plastic from our daily activities
  • commit to include our stance on single-use plastic in our communications
  • raise awareness of and support plastic-free initiatives in the community

During our second committee meeting, we chose which topics to undertake for our Green Flag journey: Litter & Waste, Climate Action and Global Citizenship. We also chose Sustainable Development Goal 4 as our overarching goal: Life Below Water. Each member then chose which topic to concentrate on and we split into 3 groups to start working on our Action Plans for the year.

S6 Recyclers

The S6 Recyclers have now started emptying the recycling bins in the classrooms on a weekly basis and less waste is going to landfill, so a huge thanks to all our volunteers!

Plastic Free Schools

As part of our work on tackling litter and waste, we will be working on gaining Plastic Free Schools status, as awarded by Surfers Against Sewage. Two S2 Maths classes and members of the Eco-Committee will start their monthly litter picks around the school during the week beginning 27th September and the S2 Maths classes will use the litter to produce data on litter in our school. We will use this data in 3 ways:

  1. to run anti-litter campaigns
  2. to write to government
  3. to write to the worst-offending companies

Some S1 classes will also shortly be using the Plastic Free Schools resources to learn about the pros and cons of plastic in their Science lessons.

Autumn Community Litter Pick

We held a very successful litter pick of the woods behind and beside the school after school on Thursday 23rd September. 8 pupils and 5 members of staff collected and sorted 13 bags/ 32.92 kg of litter and photographed the evidence. We logged our actions as part of Surfers Against Sewage’s Million Mile Clean. Well done to everyone involved, your actions have made a big difference: you helped clean our community and took part in some citizen science at the same time!

Young Climate Warriors

This week’s Young Climate Warriors challenge is Recycling. Can you make sure everyone in your household recycles as much as possible? Remember, the challenge is added to the Eco-Schools 2020-21 Google Classroom (ask your registration teacher for the class code). It's completely voluntary but you can earn house points and help the environment by submitting evidence of having completed them.

Climate Action Workshop run by Keep Scotland Beautiful

Some of our Eco-Committee attended the virtual workshop on Climate Action on Tue 14th Sept. There were 3 topics: Fast Fashion, Energy and Food. For each we learned about the topic, the effects of the topic on the earth and what action we can take to lessen these effects. At the end of the workshop, our pupils were brimming with ideas they would like to put into action during the course of the year and they were told to bring these to the next committee meeting.

Climate Champions Invention Challenge by CRIN

Pupils aged 6-15 are being challenged to use their imaginations to come up with ideas for inventions that will help protect our planet and its biodiversity! The organisers, CRIN (Child Rights International Network) will show the ideas to as many people as possible who have the power to change things, and encourage adults to listen to pupils’ amazing ideas. A selection of the most creative and inspirational entries will be brought to life by expert illustrators and 3D graphic artists and shown at the UN Human Rights Council and other important events, as well as being shown on the CRIN website. (https://climatechampions.littleinventors.org/) Closing date is midnight on 11th October 2021. Please see Miss Marshall in Technical for more information and entry forms and return the forms to her for submission.

Climate Challenge: 1.5 Degrees Films

Climate Challenge: 1.5 Degrees Films (https://filmaccess.scot/climate-challenge-1-5-degrees-films/) invites people to make 90-second films to share their thoughts and ideas about climate change and how it is affecting us as individuals, our surroundings, families and communities. The early deadline for film submissions is midnight on 24th October 2021.

All eligible films submitted to the Challenge will be made available for viewing on Film Access Scotland’s website, providing a platform for sharing views on climate change. Submissions from young people aged between 16 and 25 years will automatically be entered into Film Access Scotland’s Youth Film Festival in November 2021. Films submitted by filmmakers based in Scotland may also be screened at fringe events in Glasgow in and around COP26 and at events to celebrate the Challenge planned after COP26. There will be commendations and prizes for filmmakers based in Scotland. For further information, please see Mrs McLeod on a Tue or Thu lunchtime in A119 (opposite the library).

 

Friday 10th September

A big welcome (back) to the school from Hermitage Academy Eco-Schools. Our aim this year is to have fun while learning about and taking action to prevent climate change, all the while working towards achieving our first Green Flag award and Plastic Free Schools status. Many hands make light work, so please do encourage your young person to get involved!

Eco-Committee

The Eco-Committee has now been formed and a huge congratulations to the pupils who made it onto the committee. (Details can be found on the school website. Click on the Pupils tab, then Eco-Schools, then Eco-Committee.) We are still in need of some more S2 representatives so if your young person is in S2 and would like to be on the Eco-Committee, please ask them to come to the Eco-Club on Tuesday or Thursday lunchtime in room A119 and speak to Mrs McLeod. We had our first Eco-Committee meeting on Tuesday 7th September, and we already have lots of plans. We are currently undertaking our Environmental Review of the school (step 2 of 9 on our journey to a Green Flag award) and we will use the results to choose our 3 topics.

S6 Recyclers

We now have nearly enough volunteers from S6 to cover all areas of the school and Mrs McLeod will start their training next week. It will be such a relief when classroom waste can once again be separated and recycled instead of it all going to landfill, so a huge thanks to all our volunteers!

Plastic Free Schools

As part of our work on tackling litter and waste, we will be working on gaining Plastic Free Schools status, as awarded by Surfers Against Sewage. We will be undertaking monthly litter picks around the school and using the data to try to reduce litter in our school in 3 ways:

  1. by running anti-litter campaigns
  2. by writing to government
  3. by writing to the offending companies

Several departments across the school have also kindly agreed to dedicate some of their lessons to related lessons to help raise awareness of this important matter across the school.

Autumn Community Litter Pick

We will be holding a litter pick of the woods behind and beside the school from 3:30 to 5 pm on Thursday 23rd September. Participants will not only be having fun, helping the local community and the environment, they will also receive house points and a praise card and we will be doing this as part of Surfers Against Sewage’s Million Mile Clean and the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean. You will need to bring suitable clothing and footwear to school (this could be your uniform or you can bring a change of clothes) and you will also need to make your own way home afterwards as there will be no school transport at that time. Consent forms will be issued and MUST be returned or you will not be allowed to participate. All pupils and staff are encouraged to participate and should let Mrs McLeod know by filling in the form on the Eco-Schools Google classroom by Friday 17th September.

Young Climate Warriors

This week’s Young Climate Warriors challenge is Electricity. Can you work out your household’s electricity consumption? Remember, the challenge is added to the Eco-Schools 2020-21 Google Classroom (ask your registration teacher for the class code). It's completely voluntary but you can earn house points and help the environment by submitting evidence of having completed them.

Pre-COP26 Event run by Keep Scotland Beautiful

Some of our Eco-Committee will be attending a virtual workshop on Climate Action next Tuesday. Details of the outcome will follow in the next newsletter.

Plastic Free Helensburgh - The Great Big Green Week

Plastic Free Helensburgh have been doing some amazing work, organising a fantastic range of events for The Climate Coalition's The Great Big Green Week from 18th-26th Sept 2021. From sustainable parenting to repair workshops, from electric transport to plastic free periods, there's something for everyone. Check them out on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PlasticFreeHelensburgh) and Instagram to find out more!

Time for Change Argyll & Bute - Argyll & Bute Climate Summit

Time for Change Argyll & Bute are holding a virtual Climate Summit for all inhabitants of Argyll & Bute on Monday 20th September from 19:30 to 21:30. There will be speakers from local stakeholders in three main areas of emissions: Energy, Food and Transport, talking about their own plans for emissions reduction, and visions for the future of climate action in Argyll and Bute. There will also be facilitated discussions around these three themes, and local politicians will also be discussing these issues. Speakers include Andy Clements, the Renewables Manager at Gigha Renewable Energy, Roger Dixon-Spain, a permaculture farmer on the island of Lismore, Adele Lidderdale, Climate Change Project Officer at the Orkney Islands Council and Andy Smith, the Head of Sustainability Strategy at Loganair. If you wish to participate, even just by listening, please get your free ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/argyll-bute-climate-summit-tickets-165643992641?aff=eemailordconf&utm_campaign=order_confirm&utm_medium=email&ref=eemailordconf&utm_source=eventbrite&utm_term=viewevent

Eco Event - SAS Youth Ocean & Climate Summit

Once again, a huge congratulations to Sophie Twist (S3) and Cameron Glendinning (S5) for participating in the Youth Ocean & Climate Summit organised by Surfers Against Sewage. They worked well with the other UK participants to create a manifesto of environmental demands to present to UK politicians ahead of the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June. Here is what Sophie had to say about the experience:

“On June 8th I attended the Youth, Ocean and Climate Summit virtual conference organized by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS). It was hosted via the platforms stream and zoom.

The first half consisted of introductions and a few presentations by some brilliant speakers such as Dominic Palmer and Mhairi McCann. For the second half we split into groups with a supervisor and an activist/speaker. Sadly, I missed the first workshop due to connection issues but thankfully was able to attend the last two. For the workshops we used an app called Jam Board and were able to have discussions and use the board to fill in problems and solutions. Some of the topics included: Environmental justice, human connection to the ocean, consumer habits, renewable energy and a clean transition, extraction of marine resources and restoration and rewilding. I really enjoyed the experience and being a part of what is to be said at the G7 and COP26 conferences. We all need to be aware that if we don’t make a change in politics and how we view our climate and planet in the next few years, we will not be able to reverse our damage. I encourage you all to further your reading into the Climate Crisis and start pushing for real change.”

And here is what Cameron had to say:

"It was amazing. Throughout the day, we discussed important issues in regard to climate change and ocean protection. I learnt a lot about how to be a better activist and met several people with similar views to mine.  I would highly recommend it and will be attending Surfers Against Sewage's events in future."

Let’s Go Zero

We have just signed up to Let’s Go Zero (https://letsgozero.org/) which is a UK organisation to support schools in their aim to go net zero by 2030. The organisation has 4 main aims:

  • to create a community of ambitious, forward-thinking schools all aiming for a better, fairer, zero carbon future
  • to give schools support on setting zero carbon targets and developing roadmaps for delivery
  • to hold discussions with politicians to get more support for schools
  • to work with government for lasting change

Follow our news and events in the daily bulletin, the plasma screens, the notice boards, the school website (you’ll find Eco-Schools under the Pupils tab) and on Facebook, Twitter and coming shortly also on Instagram.

 

August 2021

It's the start of a new school year and Eco-Schools is already in full-swing. The Eco-Committee has been formed and S6 pupils have started volunteering to empty the recycling bins around the school each week. Pupils receive house points for any Eco activities they participate in and the results for August are in:

Chart showing house points earned for joining the Eco-Committee (Arran = 35, Bute = 25, Cumbrae = 5, Davaar = 35) and Being an S6 Recycler (Arran = 5, Bute = 0, Cumbrae = 5, Davaar = 15).

The total points are:

  • Arran = 40
  • Bute = 25
  • Cumbrae = 10
  • Davaar = 50

 

2020-21

April 2021

School has returned to some sort of normality and Eco-Schools has returned. We are continuing with the same Eco Committee as last year and, since the senior pupils are very busy with assessments during April and May, we will be resuming our work in June.

In the meantime, we celebrated Earth Day on Thursday 22nd April by encouraging pupils and staff to ditch the car that day, asking the whole school to pledge to take one small action to reduce their environmental footprint and by staff and pupils volunteering to stay behind after school that day to do a litter pick of the woods behind the school. All three initiatives were successful: we reduced the number of cars dropping pupils off from 178 on Wednesday to 113 on Thursday, many pupils made a wide range of pledges (we will be checking in a few weeks to see how many were kept) and we managed to clear 13 sacks of litter from the woods - a mere dent in the litter, but at least it's a start!

 

2019-20

 

June 2020

What a year this has been! The first half so successful, the second half in lockdown.

A new Eco Committee was elected in August/ September and were working well before lockdown, looking to embed Eco-Schools into the whole school agenda and starting a new Environmental Review. They were full of ideas, enthusiasm and committment and I look forward to working with them again when Coronavirus permits it. 

Pupils were actively involved in the Gardening Club, which we changed to lunchtimes to see if this would permit more pupils to participate. It turned out to be too short a length of time to get all the equipment out and away, grab a bite to eat and get a decent amount of gardening done so this club is likely to revert to after school in the future. The Ecobricking and Recycling Club also proved popular, with pupils keen to recycle and reduce waste.

The Hermitage Park Community Kitchen Garden project was completed in December and we were all very sad when it had to come to an end. We will look into further funding in the future to see if we can continue this valuable work.

We had a very pleasant surprise in February. I nominated the Eco Committee for the AB Youth Environment Award and we were delighted when we were invited to the ceremony as finalists. It was a very glamorous evening at the Queen's Hall in Dunoon and our pupils were ecstatic when it was revealed that they were the winners of the award! Congratulations to you all - it was a well-deserved award!

 

2018-19

 

June 2019

We are now nearing the end of the first year of our Eco Schools journey and what a year it has been!

Our Eco Committee has now met 5 times with only one more meeting to go this academic year. Each i-time class voted for their Eco Rep to sit on the committee and then the reps shared with their classes what was spoken about at the meetings. During the meetings the Eco Reps learned about the journey to gaining a Green Flag, heard the findings of the Environmental Review of the school pupils had carried out and then chose Litter, Food and the Environment and Biodiversity  as the 3 topics they wished to improve upon over the next 2 years. They informed their classmates about the various Eco projects that were going on, about the Anti-Litter Campaign, about what the climate emergency really is and about future Eco activities that pupils could get involved in. They also chose an Eco charity to support: ACT, a local charity that works with various groups, including the unemployed and those with mental health issues, to improve local landscapes, benefitting the whole community.

There were many very successful projects throughout the year. There was a different campaign each month in the drive against litter: posters were put up around the school, pupils were spoken to at assembly and posters were put on the dining tables. However, the most effective strategy was when Senior Management blocked access to the teaching corridors during break and lunch and wheeled bins around the dining hall, encouraging pupils to put their litter in the bin. Mr Simpson’s S1 Maths class carried out monthly litter picks and it will be interesting to see the results to discover whether any of the campaigns were particularly successful. Local litter picks in Helensburgh, Rhu and Garelochhead were also advertised in school so pupils could choose to participate if they wished. We will continue working on this over the next academic year too.

Waste Management is technically a different topic but as people are now recognising how important it is right now and because a lot of the Eco Committee confused it with litter, we are tackling it at the same time. We are fund-raising to buy bins to collect different streams of litter with Terracycle and Recycling for Good Causes. S1 & S2 participated in a sponsored litter pick of the woods behind the school to raise funds for this and ACT, which was facilitated by a donation from the PTA for litter picking equipment. We will continue our actions on this topic next term too.

For Biodiversity members of the Eco Club were encouraged to sign up as Hedgehog Champions and they also learned about polar bears and the impact of the loss of local wildlife. Seedbombs were sold at the Eco Schools stall before Christmas so pupils could encourage wildlife into their gardens and the Gardening Club have planted sweet peas and poached egg plants to encourage wildlife. Additionally, Mr Mason kindly made a bird feeder for the Gardening Club, which will soon be erected. Finally, as well as funding for tools and plants for the Gardening Club, the PTA also kindly donated funds for a wormery, which will be housed in the Biology department, to be used in lessons and to provide compost for the garden.

Our third topic, Food and the Environment, is closely related to Biodiversity and many projects straddle both. The Gardening Club have also planted potatoes and our star project, creating a Community Kitchen Garden in Hermitage Park, which is funded by the National Lottery, will also see many edible plants being grown. So far, we have planted potatoes and soft fruit bushes but plans include growing a mixture of herbs, fruit and vegetables for a variety of uses, including making chutneys, jams, soups and soaps, as well as feeding local wildlife. For Fairtrade Fortnight pupils tried to sell 90kg of Fairtrade Rice, which would have enabled a farmer in Malawi to send a child to secondary school for a year, however we did not reach this target so we will simply send a donation instead.

When the new academic year starts in August, there is plenty more work to be done: new committee members to be elected, a second Environmental Review to be performed and a Curricular Audit to be conducted. We will continue with our Anti-Litter Campaign, the Gardening Club and the Hermitage Park project, while trying to set up further recycling streams. We are looking for more enthusiastic pupils with great ideas and the desire to work towards improving the school, the local community and the world. If this sounds like you, please join in!

 

August 2018

We are making a huge effort this year to really get Eco Schools up and running with the aim of earning our first Green Flag award in 2 years’ time.

Eco Schools is as much about educating and informing as it is about action. We aim to inform pupils and the local community about environmental issues in our school, our local community and the world around us and facilitate a change of habit for the better.

This year we have 8 Eco Ambassadors who are in charge of running the group.

Every half term we have an Eco Committee Meeting attended by the Eco Class Reps from each I-Time Class across the school, from S1 to S6. Their job is to report any issues or ideas from the Class to the Committee and inform the Class of the proceedings at the Committee Meeting.

Finally we have the Eco Club, which is held every Monday lunchtime in C124. This is open to all pupils and staff, who can drop by any time they are free. The Club is where we put all the ideas from the Committee Meetings into practice and develop further, related ideas.

Please use the links at the side of the page to discover more detail about our Committee, our Club and any Events (including our monthly trips to Hermitage Park where, thanks to funding from the National Lottery Fund, we are creating a Community Kitchen Garden).