Our eco commitment

Pupils intelligently consider and challenge thoughtless attitudes to the world's natural resources

— ISI, 2020

At Sydenham High School we are committed to making small changes to make a big difference, not only to our community but also to the planet. In 2019 our pupils made it clear that environmental issues were at the forefront of their minds and so, following on from recycling bins in all offices and classrooms, and banning plastic water bottles in 2017, we started to plan our Eco Commitment.

To kick off the 2019 calendar year Mrs Woodcock challenged our school community to join her in a collective pledge to reduce the flow from the ‘plastic tap’, with the view to ensuring that this resolution will be long lasting. Since then, we have worked on multiple areas to tackle our carbon footprint and impact on the environment through taking the following steps, which saw us become Finalists in the Independent Schools Parent Awards for Environmental Achievement and be awarded the highest Eco Schools accolade, the Green Flag Award:

  • All food waste is now recycled
  • Recycling bins are in every classroom and labelled with clear instructions of what goes in each to prevent contamination
  • Food wrappers are now biodegradable
  • No clingfilm is used
  • We have recycled paper napkins
  • Mondays are now Meat Free
  • We grow vegetables in our specially made Eco Zone allotment
  • Lighting is being replaced with LED bulbs
  • We no longer print our prospectus and any printed inserts are through a carbon balanced company
  • Prep School promote ‘cutting plastic out of Christmas’ with washi tape instead of sellotape and non-plastic coated wrapping paper
  • We promote ‘switch off Friday’ to consider and reduce energy consumption
  • Staff recycle books in a ‘bring and swap’ library in the Staffroom
  • Parents collecting pupils have been reminded to switch off their engines when waiting outside the school, and warning signs are in place
  • We are set up as a drop off location for recycling crisp packets through Terracycle
  • Our minibuses have been replaced with low emission versions
  • Our Head of Geography became the first in London to become a United Nations Climate Change Accredited teacher and our year 10 Geographers also passed a UNCC module designed for post A Level!
  • Staff members are learning through eduCCate, led by our Sustainability Coordinator, Miss Gibbs.

As a school community, we regularly participate in activities related to environmental campaigns such as:

  • Prep School created a fantastic video, Save the World, with the help of Mr Welch, which was featured on the Green episode of Blue Peter
  • On the day of the previous Climate Change protest, pupils signed an eco petition which was sent to the Prime Minister as well as our local MP
  • Prep School pupils have marched to Senior School, and to Sydenham High Street, with protest banners to raise awareness
  • Two clothing swaps have been held at Senior School, one as a fundraiser for the South Africa netball tour, raising money and recycling unwanted clothes and the second simply to encourage a reduction in ‘fast fashion’
  • Eco Weeks are held termly at both Prep and Senior, including pupil-led assemblies and events such as writing eco pledges and fundraising for eco charities
  • In 2020, year 12 Young Enterprise teams, Green Sweep and FreshBites, designed eco friendly reusable carrier bags and beeswax wraps and won several awards
  • In 2021, year 12 Young Enterprise team, Compostivity were awarded numerous awards including the national Young Enterprise Sustainability Award AND the Arconic Foundation Innovative Sustainability Business Idea Award for their composting pack, which introduces children (and adults too) to composting, growing fruit and vegetables
  • We are members of the Sustainable Schools Alliance Network as part of SEEd (Sustainability & Environmental Education)
  • Our Eco Prefects host regular assemblies outlining the Eco Focus for the term and actions to take such as explaining exactly how to recycle effectively and not contaminate any bins
  • Lecture Series: the most recent in the series was a talk by Climate Consultant and alumna, Charlotte Lawson.

There is always more that can be done but we are proud that we are doing our bit to make a change and we are especially proud that many of the changes have been led by our eco warrior pupils.

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