EPA Climate Youth Summit 2021
The Eynsham Partnership Academy organised their own local 'COP26', which was attended by over 20 Primary School and 20 Sixth Form representatives, along with the Winners of Great Big Green Day competition. Together they published a Manifesto for how schools can help combate climate change and biodiversity loss.
Inspiringly chaired by the sixth formers, student representatives, from secondary and primary schools discussed and identified potential climate-mitigating and biodiversity actions that could be adopted in the Trust's schools.
Bartholomew sixth former, Laura Pain, and James, Anais and Adam from Freeland Primary report for NRN.
Views from the Front Line
Summiteers James, Anais, and Adam, of Freeland Primary, report:
'A few weeks ago, we went to the EPA Youth summit meeting. We met to discuss our concerns about climate change and what we could do to stop this from happening.
With some 6th formers from Bartholomew and other schools, we worked together throughout the day to make a manifesto. First, we listened to some presentations about our eco-system and found out about carbon footprints and biodiversity.
Our first activity was to investigate what we could do to improve our school and exchanged thoughts with other the other schools. The second activity was reviewing what our school was already doing and what more we could do, starting with simple suggestions. We finally combined our theories to create a manifesto.
Afterwards, the heads from all the schools came and listened to all the groups different presentations then were given a butterfly plant to take back to school and plant.
The children who attended the EPA Youth Summit have now formed our school’s Eco Council and along with our school council ,will drive the changes outlined in our manifesto which are needed to reduce climate change.'
Laura Bain, of Bartholomew School, reports:
'On the 10th of November 2021, Eynsham Partnership association held a Climate Youth Summit in Eynsham Village Hall, uniting students with one common cause; the climate threat and what our schools do to handle it.
The event engaged students between the ages of 9-18 in the discussion of Climate Change and the Ecological Crisis, a topic that may not necessarily be brought up at home, or in class. That said, it was interesting and surprising to see how even the youngest of the participants were beginning to form their own opinions and to understand more about what they can do independently, and within the Trusts schools to aid this cause.
At the beginning of the day everyone (including the sixth formers!) was nervous, as merging with younger schools is not often done.We were split off into groups of roughly 7. While at first everyone was hesitant to get involved, it really didn’t take long for everyone to become comfortable enough with each other to begin offering information and opinions on the subject in hand.
Once settled in our groups, everyone sat patiently and interested to watch a set of presentations, from Brenda Boardman, Emeritus Research Fellow, Environmental Change Institute; James Cadman, Head of Consultancy and Carbon, Action Stability; and Catriona Bass, Longmead Wildlife Site, the Thames Valley Restoration Project and The Nature Recovery Network. Having such a wide range of knowledgeable individuals, really enforced the mindset on all the children of the importance of this subject; and being spoken to with a very mature manner on a very mature topic definitely helped, as the climate and ecological crises are something that cannot be simply dimmed down to fit what we expect a child to understand, and furthermore not only reiterated information the sixth formers knew, but taught a lot of firsthand information that you would not be able to just find online.
Then, we were left alone in our mixed groups. The variation of ages offered an interesting perspective on how each age group perceived climate change. We united to discuss what our ideal nature and climate friendly school would look like. We discussed topics such as the school site (buildings and greens spaces - an allotment), what is consumed (resources, food energy, supplies - numerous mentions of vegetarian options), how different students commute to school (bike, car, bus - even a ski lift was offered!) We talked about what impacts our various school routines involved, and the direct affect on the environment. A lot of the times, we were surprised about how the simple tasks we do everyday can cause massive impacts on the environment around us.
We then compared the different aspects of our schools, and then compared our different schools to our new mutual ideal. We noticed minimal differences that were really unexpected between secondary schools and primary schools; for example primary schools tended to use a lot less plastic. We combined all our learnt knowledge and new ideas and formulated a Manifesto - (a word a lot of the primary school kids didn’t know beforehand, but now understand) This Manifesto, we then presented to our head teachers, trust leaders, governors and also local politicians, a chance for the children to really see that their voices had an impact and gave them an opportunity to be truly listened to.
All in all, the climate summit taught me a lot and showed me that the youngest of us are incredibly passionate and given the right opportunity, absolutely flourish with new ideas and take initiative to improve themselves for the climate in a way I never was taught to when I was their age.'