Hertfordshire nursery receives top environmental award

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Rowan Tree Day Nursery in Welwyn Garden City is one of only 53 nurseries in the UK to achieve the Eco-Schools Green Flag Award.

The setting received the award in recognition of their environmental awareness and conservation efforts within the nursery.

Rowan Tree was rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and is powered by green electricity. The setting contributes to almost no waste landfill and involves all pupils in eco-friendly projects.

Claire Ovenden, the day nursery manager, said the award was the result of years of effort from staff, children and parents working together in the global Eco-Schools programme.

“Respecting and protecting the environment is an important part of our commitment to give our children the best possible future but we have been surprised by just how many children are fully engaged in these projects,” she said.

New ideas are explored in the school’s Children’s Council and pupils are appointed as ‘eco spies’ to ensure that their friends don’t waste any resources like paper and tap water.

“The fact that children as young as three can talk competently about how and why we need to protect the environment is cause for celebration and optimism for the future,” Claire added.

The older pupils grow their own food and help address the food waste by weighing the lunchtime leftovers to help the nursery cook adjust quantities.

Food leftovers are added to the nursery wormery or compost bin, or are collected by specialist contractors.

“All the children love the activities and are learning so much about maths, science and the environment as they go,” said Claire.

“We are excited about the levels of collaboration we are seeing and how these projects are contributing to children’s self-confidence, development of communication skills and their general understanding of the world.”

To achieve its Green Flag award, the nursery first had to achieve its Bronze and Silver status.

The school set up an eco-committee which consisted of deputy manager Rachel Clarke, practitioner Thomas Paine and five of the children. They then had to follow a seven-step programme, which was vetted by independent inspectors.

The Eco-Schools programme is a global initiative which has been operating in 64 countries for 20 years. Over 18,000 schools have signed up for the programme, but only 1,042 schools have attained the coveted Green Flag award.

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