In January 2021 University College School signed up to the ‘LetsGoZero’ campaign and pledged to become carbon zero by 2030. The school in Hampstead has developed a cross-Foundation approach to sustainability through pupil led action. In May 2021, they were one of four schools to be shortlisted for the Sustainable School of the Year Award, and their work was ‘Highly Commended’.
Pupils of all ages are engaged to reduce the Foundation’s carbon footprint; from leading vibrant eco-clubs in all three schools, to students sitting on the Foundation’s ‘Sustainability Working Group’ that meets each half-term to assess progress against defined targets. Staff and students have worked closely together across the Foundation to ensure that sustainability is now a key feature of day-to-day life at UCS.
Using the framework of the Eco-schools programme, each year group at UCS is responsible for managing the sustainability of specific areas of the school’s activity. For example; transport, waste, energy, biodiversity. Students liaise with the relevant staff members and have access to data so that they can monitor the progress of initiatives and set targets to reduce the impact of the school’s activities. An example of this is the Year 9’s work on Waste, where they assess monthly breakdowns on the amount recycled and have launched targeted campaigns to increase recycling rates to over 75% in under 12 months. Through annual whole Foundation carbon emission reports (Scope 1-3), carried out by OneCarbonWorld, the students are able to monitor the impact of their actions and ultimately will be able to see the effect of their efforts.
Other recent student-led initiatives in the last 12 months have included;
- Creating a ‘BikeIt crew’ of students (with the support of the charity Sustrans) to service staff and student bicycles (resulting in a doubling of the number of students who cycle over the last academic year)
- Working alongside Camden Forest to plant over 100 trees in local gardens
- The sixth form creating in-depth proposals to transition the Foundation to a green energy provider.
Further information can be found on the Foundation’s Sustainability Society website