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St Martin’s School in Caerphilly town celebrates top eco award after 12-year environmental drive

Published in News at 13:00, Tuesday July 14th, 2015.

By Gareth Hill

GREEN SPACE: Tim Lyons and Marc Yeoman with year 7 members of the eco-club

GREEN SPACE: Tim Lyons and Marc Yeoman with year 7 members of the eco-club

A Caerphilly town school has been given a top award for their environmental work that has created green spaces for pupils and aided their learning.

St Martin’s School was awarded the Platinum Award by Eco-Schools – the highest honour given by the organisation.

The school has also become an ambassador for the project, welcoming visiting pupils to show off their success and encourage other children to get involved.

Geology and Geography teacher Tim Lyons launched an eco-club more than 12 years ago and in that time, along with staff and students, has developed two gardens using recycled materials.

The plants in the gardens are all wild and materials such as stone, tyres, used as plant pots, and railway sleepers, used to construct a to-scale model of Stonehenge, are salvaged.

The school features an eco-garden and eco-art-garden, with plans for a third garden underway.

The eco-art-garden is an open space for students to use during breaks, with art and music classes also taught there in summer months.

The eco-garden is a working garden, with a pond, pre-jurrassic area, insect hotels and much more – all created by staff and students.

Acting headteacher Marc Yeoman said the school was praised for ensuring ecology and the environment are part of the curriculum as well as extracurricular activities.

Mr Yeoman said: “The gardens have definitely had an affect on their behaviour. They respect it, especially when they’ve been a part of creating it.

“We have to ensure we have eco-activities throughout our curriculum, it’s not just box ticking.

“For example, technology pupils learn about sustainable design and using green energy.

“We’re going to start running a BTEC in Horticulture using the gardens instead of shipping everyone out to other colleges, because the local authority are keen on keeping kids on site.”

Mr Lyons, who is also the Eco-Schools co-ordinator, said: “It’s fantastic, we find every single type of child wants to be involved and lots of the difficult ones want to be involved.

“It’s all about the pupils and in eco-week the kids are out in the gardens, but in their lessons they’re doing environmental based lessons as well.

“The gardens’ full of wildlife. We don’t want manicured gardens, we want biodiversity.”

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  • Dean Cooperfield-West

    Why on Earth do you need to bother with eco-schools, eco-gardens, and the other eco things the school has done?

    Focus on teaching the traditional subjects. Britain will never catch up with education prowess of the Chinese if our pupils are too busy planting flowers over spending time learning maths.

    • Paul.

      This Eco mumbo jumbo has been introduced into schools to brainwash children who are then being used as political levers to spread the Eco mumbo jumbo message to their parents and friends, it’s all complete rubbish, I dare say most of the kids at this school are driven to and fro by their parents in their evil planet destroying, polar bear killing, fume belching cars, and they wonder why education in Wales is falling way behind England.

      • Jeff Davies

        I agree, I blame the Governors for allowing this to happen, there is no statutory regulations that demand it is included, who are the governors,? anyone know?.

      • Pete

        An enviro/Eco club would be an excellent idea if the whole debate hadn’t been politicised from the start. Teaching kids how to grow plants/trees/food or how to behave in any environment or how not to waste resources because it’s cheaper to recycle than to dig more minerals out of the ground is a good thing. Teaching kids how to preserve fuel and live a less dependent life can benefit our country as we wouldn’t have to buy so much of it from Johnny Foreigner.

        • Dean Cooperfield-West

          I agree. I remain unconvinced global warming is anthropogenic. I remain even more unconvinced when carbon dioxide was the most common gas in the atmosphere millions of years ago and since then the level has decreased over time with the spikes and dips. Humans have come along and have started measuring the level in such a limited window with an enormous jump form the early days you cannot draw anything substantial from it.

          • Pete

            I hate to quote Eric Pickles in public but just for once he had it spot on ” I have asked all the scientists if global warming is man made and they all said they didn’t know”.

          • Dean Cooperfield-West

            Yes, also, we all know that thousands of years ago the mainstream opinion among scientists and philosophers was that the Earth was at the centre of the universe, and after that we were told the Earth was flat…

          • Pete

            I heard that the flat earthers were a bit of an urban legend combined with a bit of a joke and a bit of obstinacy thrown in that some people subsequently took seriously, but your point is valid. Science is ever evolving and is highly commercialised and politicised and now cannot be taken at face value.
            There Is also another issue of fashion interfering for an example of this just search solar roadways on YouTube.

    • Pete

      Competing with the Chinese means producing quality and innovation as quantity and price are out of the question and needs to be the focus of British schools.
      Modern climate change theory is riddled with unproven “facts” and needs to be shelved until it can be proved.
      I did an environmental class in school thirty years ago before all this bunkem and it taught me all about my immediate surroundings such as the farm names and names of the farmers. How trees grow best, the importance of hedgerows and how not to be a complete d..k when I’m out and about in nature. This is far more useful than peeing my knickers over fracking. Having an enviro/garden club is no bad thing and should be encouraged so kids appreciate what we have and learn to look after it and more importantly not to use it up with gay abandon.

      • Dean Cooperfield-West

        Except the angle you talk about is not the angle taken to the garden. The garden is built on the modern eco message of ‘recycling things to stop global warming and using no fossil fuels’. The children of this garden will still not have a clue about the benefits of a hedgerow, how trees grow best, and where their food comes from. The children can lecture you about global warming, greenhouse gases, fossil fuels, and renewable energy using the current theory school kids are indoctrinated with.

        • Pete

          That’s my point my “Enviromental studies” class all those years ago was constructed by my old primary school head teacher Mr Parry. He was a local historian and ever the practical man who taught us useful information that we could actually use in the real world. It was before current theory tainted the subject and gave it the tree hugging lentil eating hippy image it has today.
          I keep seeing the practacle replaced by the principle and the politicising of a subject to its detriment. It’s common sense that if you don’t waste then you don’t have to replace at a cost but your right that isn’t going to be the focus.