50 students from 5 schools attended a one-day training in Community Organising for Action on Climate Change.
The focus for the day was a research action on thecentre:mk shopping centre, which welcomes each year 25 million shoppers -and £750m of shoppers’ spending – in the context of MK Council’s lead in pledging to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
School councillors from the following schools attended: Jubilee Wood Primary, Orchard Primary, St. Monica’s Primary, St. Paul’s Secondary and Southwood Primary, who hosted the initial training at the start of the day.
Following a welcome from Southwood Headteacher Kate Mathews, the pupils talked in a series of 1-2-1s about their individual and institutions’ actions on climate change, then saw Greta’s video.
Three leaders of MK Green Alliance – Kirsty Forshaw ( Research Fellow for DeMontfort University on ‘POWER’ project & Refill Champion for MK ), Craign Broadbent (MK Cycle Forum) and Sharon Ghouila (Green Steps Consulting), presented testimonies on the impact of single use water bottles, cycling and recycling in/around thecentre:mk shopping centre.
The pupils then moved into three mixed groups to focus on one of the three issues, created SMART research questions and designed a questionnaire for their listening campaign in thecentre:mk:
After a break, students set off for the research action in thecentre:mk, splitting into four zones for thecentremk research), then moving to the Council Chamber in Civic Offices for squash, biscuits and packed lunch.
After lunching and crunching the data
pupils presented their research findings by school group and heard from Cllr Jennifer Marklew, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Climate Action, about MK Council’s pledge to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
Students then prioritised the issues for action, identifying power holders, and created the following SMART campaign goals:
- 75% of businesses in thecentre:mk sign up for the Refill scheme by 1st April 2020.
- At least three new Refill stations are created in big anchor stores (M&S, John Lewis or Intu) by July 2020.
- Clean and accessible public water fountains are created (up to 8) by July 2020.
Some schools also created goals for action on themselves:
- Halve food wasted at Jubilee Wood Primary School by July 2020.
- Reduce plastic water bottle use at Orchard Primary Academy by 85% by Easter 2020.
- Provide Year 7 pupils at St. Paul’s Catholic School with school-branded water bottles by December 2019.
Pupils then took the five-minute walk to Church of Christ the Cornerstone – the fourth and last institution they visited during the day – to present their campaign goals to members of Citizens:’mk’s Leadership Group.
David Chapman, a member of Cornerstone Church, welcomed the pupils and talked about his own campaign to persuade the church to require its room hirers to complete a short environmental audit.
The pupils presented their campaign goals to eight leaders of Citizens:mk member institutions , including co-chair Kurshida Mirza, and received their formal consent.
In post-event evaluation, pupils gave this internal action – which was intended to create in pupils a positive reaction to opportunities for action on climate change – a score of 8 out of 10.
One pupil said: “I feel proud of what I did today.” Another said: “I’ve never spoken to a group like that before.”
Jo Cayley, Assistant Headteacher of Jubilee Wood Primary School, said: “The children were really inspired by the day. They have come back to school and shared information about the refill scheme and the school’s mission to reduce food waste at lunchtimes!”
Now teachers will meet on 22nd October to plan next schools’ action.