St Colmcille‟s SNS received their well deserved Green-Schools Travel Flag in May 2009 after much work on encouraging sustainable school travel.
Provision of Infrastructure:
Knocklyon is a suburb of Dublin neighboured by the areas of Templeogue, Firhouse and Rathfarnham, and only a few minutes from the M50, which cuts Knocklyon in two. St Colmcille‟s Primary School (consisting of both the junior and senior school deals with large numbers, and is one of the largest in Ireland). The Senior School has over 750 pupils and is located next to the Junior School (who are not currently undertaking the Green-Schools Travel Theme). Also neighbouring the school are St Colmcille‟s Church and Community Centre and a focal point for the local community is the local supermarket, Superquinn. It is in a quiet residential area located off the busy Knocklyon Road.
Current trends for school travel:
Current Trends for School Travel: (anecdotal evidence)
Before undertaking work on the Green-Schools Travel theme the school had implemented a traffic management system and a car parking area for staff and parents. Landscaping, signage, road markings and tarmacing has been completed and a traffic management system put in place so pupils and all others approaching and leaving the schools can do so in a safe manner. There is a one way system in operation on school days.However there were still some problems with congestion at the school gates and pupils and parents were encouraged to walk to school if at all possible. They have since implemented a Walk and Cycle to School initiative within the Green Schools Travel theme.
Work undertaken to date:
Green Schools Coordinator, 4th class teacher, Annmarie O’Gara availed of the Green-Schools Teacher Training workshops which helped her to come up with new ideas of implementing the travel theme within school along the Seven Steps to Green-Schools guidelines. The Green-Schools Committee “Coiste Uaithne” is composed of at least one pupil from each class they meet at least once a month. There is also an adult committee which meets each term. The whole school is informed by Committee Representatives who update the notice boards and visit classes with updates and information on the Green Schools Programme. No formal minutes of meetings are taken however committee members take notes and report back their class.
The Environmental Review included surveys counting students who walk, park „n‟ stride, cycle and drive to school. A survey of cars in vicinity of the school was conducted too. The school worked closely with An Taisce on the Travel theme and results from surveys were submitted for comparison.
Colin Moran from Co. Dublin GFC officially launched St Colmcille‟s Walk to School campaign in February 2008. Pupils in school worked hard to raise awareness of the campaign creating posters and thinking up catchy slogans to encourage everyone to take up walking to school.
On the launch day lots of pupils made the effort to walk to school helping to relieve congestion outside the school gates. The school band was playing and a special school concert was held where pupils made up songs on the Green Schools themes and there were speeches from the principal, Pádraig Ó Néill, Green Schools Coordinator, Annmarie O‟Gara and lastly Colin Moran. Media interest was high with Newstalk and RTE2 picking up the event.
The school has really taken the travel theme on board completing many of the Green School initiatives including; Green Tree, Walk around Ireland, shoe art, healthy breakfasts and WOW days. This has resulted in up to 80 % of pupils walking independently to school.
The school has not only concentrated on urging pupils and parents to walk to school but have also encouraged more cycling to school. 5th class has completed cycle training and the school has successfully applied for cycle parking which will be installed in early 2009 and is jam packed every morning. The principal leads by example and can often be seen cycling to and from school in his safety gear. Breakfast was also provided one morning for those that cycled to school over a period of time. The number of children cycling to school is also monitored and cyclists have increased from 8 to 30 per day
An Eco-Travel competition was held between Houses in the school where points were allocated to students for recycling, energy saving, walking/cycling to school - the winning house got to watch a DVD in the hall. Green-Schools Travel Education Officer, Kathryn Poxon has also been into school delivering workshops to the six 4th classes on „Climate Change and Your Journey to School‟. The children had great fun bursting balloons to find out fascinating climate change facts and becoming “Environmental Inventors‟, dreaming up methods of sustainable transport such as cloud hoppers and cycle cars! Here are some of the things the pupils had to say……
Lauren says: Thank you
Claire says: I learned a lot.
Aaron says: Now I know that it is better to take the bus.
Amy says: WOW! 24 cars = 1 bus
Robert says: I liked the part about the greenhouse and the sun.
Laura says: I am looking forward to seeing you again.
But the most popular thing was when Conor tried to burst the balloon and fell on his bottom!
St. Colmcille‟s also ran a 'Green Song Contest' in December 2008, an X factor style song competition! The children formed groups and came up with their own songs and dance routines, based on the 4 Green Schools themes, and all in their own time. As there were so many groups the school has to run heats during assemblies in November, finally whittling it down to the 21 groups taking part in the final in December. Kathryn, the Green Schools Travel Education Officer had a taste of fame becoming an X factor style judge along with officers from SDCC. The 21 groups (from 3rd - 6th class) performed in front of the whole school, parents and of course the judges! There was a winner from each year plus an overall winner. The overall winner was a 3rd year group 'The Green Team' who performed 'Recycle-I-O' their take on the traditional Irish tune, Molly Malone. A close runner up was the winners of the Year 5 'Recycle Patrol' who did a brilliant rendition of Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars called 'Chasing Pollution.' Their on stage antics included throwing stuffed toy polar bears into the audience trying to make us aware of the damage we are doing to their habitats!
During the assessment visit (to apply for the travel green flag) in April 2009 pupils put on a “Green Show” which informed the assessors about the green schools programme progress over the past year. It included an entertaining drama that examined the McSlobs an unhealthy, environmentally unfriendly family and an environmentally friendly family. There was also singing, an electric rock music performance, the Green Song Contest winners performance and a PowerPoint presentation detailing all the activities over the past year such as heritage walks, water conservation, annual green week, DSPCA visit, recycling, walking and cycling to school initiatives, fruit and veg. survey in local Superquinn, healthy eating initiatives, St. Colmcille‟s recycled boat and 2nd hand book sale.
The school gained their well deserved 4th green flag for the Travel theme at the Green-Schools awards ceremony at Croke Park in May 2009 and celebrated with a flag raising ceremony in October 2009. They have now moved on to the next Green Schools theme of ‘Climate Change’.
Good luck and well done St Colmcille‟s SNS!