EDUCATION AWARDS: Reward for healthy environment
In an effort to encourage more students to consider taking up environmental courses, the Economic and Social Research Council made the following points:-
"The environment affects us all and the relationship between society and the environment is crucial to maintaining health and a good quality of life.
"In an era of increasing global uncertainty, from climate change to population growth and dwindling natural resources, the study of the environment and our role within it is becoming more important than ever before."
Over the last 25 years, primary schools, in particular, have increasingly made outdoor and environmental education a part of their curriculums.
In recognition of this trend, the Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian Education Awards has an environmental category based on what Plymouth-based academic Dr Mark Leather described as "the recognition that being in nature is a good thing".
The award is sponsored by South Holland District Council whose deputy leader Coun Nick Worth said: "The Environmental Award will be presented to the individual, class or school that has demonstrated a commitment to improving its carbon footprint, caring for the natural environment or increasing environmental understanding.
"It's an especially important category because effective management of our natural resources and the renewable energy sources that will replace them, as well as understanding and tackling climate change and emerging environmental challenges, are the key issues that will face our children in the future.
"We are very proud to support these awards as the district council views education not only as vital to young people accessing further education and improving their career opportunities, but also as a driver for the region's economic development.
"The Education Awards recognise students and teachers who have achieved excellence, but they are also an encouragement and inspiration to others."
Cowbit St Mary's Primary School were the first winners of the Environmental Award in 2014 after young Eco-Warriors at the school presented a persuasive case with their energy-saving programme.
A 20 per cent reduction in its electricity bill resulted from fitting computers with timer switches, cutting bulbs usage and even taking on a "Scrapheap Challenge" of making pedal-powered vehicles out of "old junk" won over the judges.
In 2015, it was the turn of The Priory School in Spalding whose innovations includes a horticultural area, with a rain harvesting irrigator to grow flowers and crops, the use of a bee hive, a year-long study of coastal environments and a survey on renewable energy sources.
After accepting the award, executive head teacher Daran Bland said: "We really value this aspect of our educational provision as it has helped our pupils to use their practical skills in putting things back into the environment, whilst at the same time making our curriculum as life-oriented as possible.
The most recent winners, in 2016, were Pinchbeck East Primary School where pupils reduced the amount of energy being wasted at the school, including one room where ten different sources of wasted energy were found.
Year 4 teacher Chloe Pentney said: "The children loved it and they got really involved in our energy-saving action plan."