Earlier this week I popped into Christ Church Primary School in St Leonards-on-Sea, writes HOT’s Zelly Restorick, to witness the cutting of the official ribbon to celebrate the installation of a roof-full of solar panels and the generation of their own free energy.
Andrea Needham was the central motivating energy in this exploration of solar power – and it’s taken around four-five years for the idea to come to fruition and materialise, with much time spent planning and researching, delving into the legal sphere of schools and solar panels, health and safety, buying the panels and finding the right people to fit them. However, patience and perseverance paid off – and the school is a trail-blazing eco-beacon for the town. Andrea is a thoughtful, intelligent, practical, direct and courageous school governor and parent. Much respect to her for making this vision manifest.
“This is important for you and for generations to come,” said Andrea to the gathered audience. “It’s good to be green and do whatever we can to be greener and reduce the impact we have on our planet.”
Co-operation and collaboration
I know Andrea would be the first to say that she didn’t achieve this goal alone. The project also involved the generous-spirited, innovative co-operation and combining of skills, experience, knowledge, financial support and labour of a number of other organisations and individuals, both local and national. Including Pure Leapfrog, the UK’s leading provider of social investment and professional support to community energy projects. Their mission is to ensure that community energy becomes a significant part of the sustainable energy mix in the UK. And Richard Watson of Energise Sussex Coast and member of a school energy co-operative, who offers people impartial advice on making their lives energy efficient and energy-wise.
“Lots of patience was needed and determination”, explained head teacher Anne Hanney. “It’s a dream come true… When you work hard to get something, it makes it all the more valuable. This is just one school in one town in one county, but we’re really making a difference.”
The school has also taken the initiative to buy an up-to-date fuel efficient boiler and changed their lighting to a more energy efficient system.
Interested in finding out more for your school?
Get in touch with the staff at Christ Church and have a chat. Here’s their website.
Surveying the school system
Off-at-a-tangent pondering… During the ceremony, I sat at the back of the school hall on a plastic chair, whilst in front of me lay a small moving lake of blue and yellow girls and boys. Nearly all sitting on the floor.
I’ve seen this in other schools too. Kids sitting cross-legged or kneeling on the floor in the school hall. And all I see with my Inner Alien Visitor’s Eyes is inequality and how having a chair seems to be a step up in the world of school hierarchy.
I mean, what would you say if you visited someone’s house and they offered you the floor as your seating area, whilst they sat in chairs? That’s quite a clear symbolic message to me. I’d at least like a mat or a rug to protect my clothes, as I’m not sure if the floor has been washed or swept and certainly there’s a lot of shoe-footfall here, all of which have been outside wandering the pavements.
Here is where the hierarchal training sinks in at another level, I thought: “You are Johnny. I am Miss Brown. You sit on the floor. I sit in a chair. That’s just the way it is.”
How easily and subtly do we indoctrinate these open trusting young minds into the belief system of hierarchy, authority and inequality.
** I clarify, this is an observation of the majority school system, not a comment about any particular school.
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