As a school we are shaped by our values, which include looking after one another and our environment.
Across The Perse, pupils and staff are working together to help look after our world for future generations to enjoy.
The school’s Green Team is led by Upper Sixth student David Palmer. This group of pupils are committed to making changes across the school that will benefit the environment. Their aims include targeting specific background changes to reduce the impact of the school itself, but moreover challenging the school community as a whole to recognise the importance of lifestyle adjustments in the face of such pressing environmental crises. The team hold open forums where pupils can share their ideas and lead on new projects that will make a difference.
New building projects in the school are undertaken with energy efficiency and environmental impact being included as top priorities. The Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre, which opened in 2018, is a very environmentally friendly building with an A rating in its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). On the roof, there is a solar farm with 49 south facing solar panels (Photovoltaic Panels) generating 12.5Kwp and there is also a rainwater harvester which collects around 500 litres of rainwater for the irrigation of plants on Ellison Court.
The building benefits from two ground source heat pumps (GSHP) which generate an expected annual heat of 168,000 kWhth. Under-floor heating, which is also more efficient, also serves the adjacent classics building. Of interest, the classics block also has a sedum roof installed, which as well as being highly attractive, also offers a habitat for butterflies and other insects.
Across the school sites, the estates team, led by Paul Kingston, are also spearheading a number of projects to make the school as environmentally friendly as possible.
These projects include planting 25 new hornbeam and flaming acer trees at the Upper, LED lightbulbs being installed whenever possible and older single-glazed windows being replaced with double glazing. Our Outdoor Pursuits Centre is generating heat with an air source heat pump, which is another source of ‘green’ technology. In addition, the Upper and Abington site each have a borehole and water storage tank. This water is used on the sports pitches during the summer months.
The Perse recently launched a new initiative to offer more vegetarian options at lunchtime in an attempt to cut school meat consumption and benefit both human health and the environment.
Meanwhile, the Perse Pelican has got involved with renowned conservationist Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots education programme, which encourages children to implement practical and positive change for people, animals and the environment.
Nursery youngsters have planted cress seeds, learned about harvest and made bird cake, while Reception classes have visited local allotments and bought strawberries and raspberries to grow in their own gardens.
Year 1 children have visited Shepreth Wildlife Park and Cambridge University Botanic Garden to discover more about species of animals and plants as well as focusing on rainforests as a topic. Pupils in Year 2 have looked around the Amey Cespa waste management depot at Waterbeach to find out what happens to our household rubbish and how materials such as bottles and cans are recycled. As part of the Roots and Shoots scheme, classes throughout the Pelican are also adopting animals.
Perse Bursar Alison Shakespeare said: “The Perse is committed to reducing its impact on the environment. This is demonstrated in many ways across different aspects of the school, including sustainable lunch menus, encouraging pupils and staff to cycle in, recycling schemes, energy efficient buildings and solar panels. This page gives a flavour of just a few of the initiatives in place.”
The school has agreed the following environmental statement with the Green Team:
- When purchasing services, materials and equipment, the school takes into account environmental impact. The school is committed to supporting local and regional suppliers.
- The school will seek to minimise its generation of waste by encouraging re-use of materials within or outside the school. This includes recycled materials, wherever possible, and waste being separated into recycling, compost and landfill.
- The school will ensure that new builds, refurbishments and in-use buildings will be operated in a manner which reflects environmentally responsible approaches.
- The school is committed to educating pupils about the importance of respecting the environment. The school recognises its duty to prepare pupils with appropriate knowledge and skills to look after our planet, to manage the world’s resources wisely and to make a positive contribution by improving the local area.
- The school is committed to following a policy of conscious consumption throughout the school site, aiming to purchase consumables in a considered way.
- The school aims to reduce its environmental impact through its use of transport and by encouraging greener methods of transport for its pupils, through actively promoting the use of public transport, walking and cycling where possible for pupils and staff commuting to school.
- The Green Team and the staff of the school will remain in regular communication to ensure the development and implementation of this policy.
Green Team leader David Palmer explains more about the group’s aims and objectives.
The Green Team’s slogan, ‘Compassion through sustainability’, is intended to provoke reflection. In the face of a planet under strain, we know we have a strong moral responsibility to preserve the world we share with billions today and will pass on to our children tomorrow. Our daily decisions are a vote for the world we want to live in, and in today’s world more than ever, it is urgent that we open our eyes to how the impacts of our lifestyle choices go far beyond our own convenience or self-indulgence. As a generally consumerist and individualistic society, we sadly contribute excessively to the rise of environmental tragedies such as unheard of levels of forced migration, exacerbated food insecurity, increasing extreme weather events, mass extinction of species, death of ocean systems and countless other negative impacts of planetary degradation.
In order to take a stand for those around the world who will be disproportionately affected, the most meaningful and in fact crucial way of showing compassion is by ensuring we settle for nothing less than sustainability. The next five years are the critical turning point for humanity, but by acknowledging the need to change right now, the direction we turn is still in our hands. This is why the Green Team cares.
The Green Team not only aims to make substantial background changes, but also inspiring individual response from the community. To highlight just a handful of the vital undertakings going on behind the scenes, we are working with the Perse Senior Management Team towards a carbon offsetting scheme, with the catering department to reduce our demand for products of the animal agriculture industry, and with the estates team to reduce fossil fuel energy dependence.
Meanwhile, on the front line, our actions include the creation and implementation of a brand new school-wide environmental policy, running a #SlaveFreeLent campaign to encourage conscientious use of our consumer vote, and kick-starting an initiative to engage Pelican pupils with the issues of sustainable living. However, this barely scratches the surface of our endeavours from the past year. For a more comprehensive list, click here.
Realising change for a more sustainable and compassionate future very much relies on support from all members of our school community, not just the student body. We are especially grateful for the catering, estates, gardening, maintenance, communications and ICT departments, the school’s Senior Management Team, and the various teaching staff who have collaborated with us and offered their continued support.