Eagles Nest is a small rural school located on quiet country road in the Renvyle, North Connemara area. The school has already achieved three Green Flags for its work on the Green‐Schools themes of litter and waste, energy conservation and water conservation and has integrated Green‐Schools issues into all aspects of the school curriculum. The school has examined local enterprises and become involved in community events when working on Green Schools themes such as participating in the local St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Clifden, to inform and involve the local community about their Green‐Schools Travel Programme.
Provision of Infrastructure
Due to the rural location the school doesn’t, at present, have infrastructure such as a pedestrian crossings, a footpath, cycle lanes or functioning school traffic lights.
Trends for School Travel
There isn’t heavy traffic flow on the access road to the school except at school drop off and pick up times. There is very limited parking at the school gates, leading to congestion at these times. The road leading to the school is in poor condition with limited visibility in areas due to bad bends. The initial An Taisce travel survey at the school showed that 5% of students were cycling to school (in comparison with the national average of 1%), 15% of students were walking to school (compared with 24 % nationally) and 78% were coming to school by car – allowing plenty of room for changes to be made.
The school started work on the Green Schools Travel theme in September 2008 and because of the small size of the school population, all senior students sit on the Green‐ Schools committee. The Green‐Schools Travel Officer gave an introductory presentation to parents on the travel theme and following this, two members of the Parent’s Association were also elected onto the committee.
As the school had a wide catchment area and in some cases it was too far to walk all the way to school, park n’ stride locations were identified by the committee. A ‘walking bus’ rota was organised and the school launched its first walking buses in December 2008. Four ‘walking buses’ operate to the school, with one coming from a park n’stride location and the others covering the full walking distance to school. Each walking bus has an autonomous ‘management team’ who decide on the bus’s operation depending on the weather. The walking buses operate on Walk on Wednesday Days every week, even during the cold, wet winter months. Eagles Nest showed its commitment to Green‐Schools travel with the entire school participated in National Walk to School week by coming to school on their walking buses.
The school carried out a walkability audit to evaluate the routes of the walking buses and to raise awareness of any safety issues on the routes. All senior classes participated in the audit and photographs were displayed on the Green School’s noticeboard. The audit raised pupil’s awareness of the unique beauty of their local area and pupils were accompanied by their principal and local historian, Mr. Paul Gannon, who highlighted historical landmarks on their route to school.
The school participated in a number of workshops on the travel theme facilitated by their Green‐Schools Officer which included Climate Change and your Journey to School, a Green Code slogan and poster workshop, a talk on Irish Biodiversity and Climate Change to coincide with National Biodiversity Week. The school also participated in a special interactive lesson on Carbon Footprinting and Sustainable Travel, which used the school’s new computer facilities. Junior pupils and infants participated in a workshop on Sounds on your Journey to School to learn about safety on their school journey.
To inform and involve the local community in the work at the school, Eagles Nest N.S entered the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Clifden and created innovative costumes based on the Green‐Schools themes. Pupils made a model of a walking bus from recycled materials which was carried through the town by infants at the school and their parents. The school also participated in An Taisce’s Spring Into Action art exhibition at Galway City library, entering artwork and attending a talk by Galway based International ultra runner, Richie Donovan. The school also participated in National Bike Week in June 2009 by participating in a bike maintenance workshop and bike skills afternoon. All students from 3rd class upwards brought their bikes to school on this day and participated in the workshop. The workshop was facilitated by local Connaught cycling champion, Brendan Scullion. In November 2009, An Taisce installed cycle parking at the school and Eagles Nest now have plans to introduce a cycle to school day, once a week.