Many schools are already doing excellent and powerful work with students, helping to show them what it means to care for the planet, God’s creation and for the poorest people on the planet, our sisters and brothers.
For everything you are already doing, thank you.
We hope that, amongst the range of ideas here, there are some new suggestions, helpful in primary and secondary schools. We would also love to hear about your projects – send a couple of your best photos, and a little description, and we will add them here, to inspire other schools and help us all learn from each other. Just email [email protected]
Resources for you
This beautiful set of posters can be downloaded as PDFs in either landscape (ideal if you have screens in reception, etc.) or portrait form, using these links: LaudatoSi’ Posters PORTRAIT and LaudatoSi’ Posters LANDSCAPE
It is suitable for Years 6-9, and supports students to make three personal pledges to change their lifestyles in ways that “listen and respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Ideal for use in form time, or a year group assembly, the video lasts about 12 minutes, including a time of reflective prayer. At two points in the video it is possible for it to be paused, initially for discussion in twos and threes, and then for a whole class / year discussion. So the video could be the basis for an entire 30 – 45 minute lesson, if that is helpful. To extend it further, the students could design presentation versions of their own pledge cards. Otherwise, all they need is a pen and paper.
The video is probably best used in form time or for whole year assemblies. Students will just need a small piece of paper and a pen.
The A3 leaflet given to parishioners across the Diocese on 2nd/3rd October is an excellent resource for a Primary School “Green Guardians” or “Laudato Si’” Group. With images and quotes on one side and the Diocesan commitments and actions, as well as suggestions for individuals, on the other, it would be a perfect discussion starter for an interested group.
It could also be used by those in Year 7-9 at Secondary School, in a similar way. You can download and print it here:
For teachers, and for those in Year 10-13, the full Diocesan document would be something to work through over perhaps six or eight sessions, taking two to three pages at a time. It will take students deeper into the issues around Climate Change and care for the world’s poorest, from the perspective of faith. The document is a significant piece of reading, but we hope that the visually very attractive presentation will help make it accessible and engaging for students. It could be the springboard to linking with those who are also interested in this within your local parish, working on projects together.
Please email [email protected] to let us know if you would like some printed copies to be sent to your school for a group to work through; we would be delighted to send them, and they are a resource of quality for your students and staff.
Resources for Prayer
To wrap in prayer everything you do with staff and students is so vital. It shows them how and why what we are doing is distinctive. We are not just another pressure group because the care of creation and for the poorest in the world are, in the words of Bishop Alan, “integral to our Catholic faith”.
Two great awards for your school
These two awards build on all the ideas mentioned here and give you extra resources, and a structure, to help root them in the life of the school.
The Fair Trade School accreditation would cover things like the tea and coffee used in the staff room and at school socials, the footballs you buy, the school uniform supplier you use. It matters so much that the toys and clothes used by our children are not the result of exploitation somewhere else in the world. You will find all the information you need at https://schools.fairtrade.org.uk/
The Cafod LiveSimply Award looks at living simply, sustainably, and in solidarity with the poor. You are probably well on the way to doing much of what you would need to do – aiming for the award will stretch you just a bit further, and help embed the things that you are doing. It is a great achievement to be recognised as a LiveSimply school, and it would be wonderful if every school in the Diocese had this accreditation. Full details – including access to a friendly team, who will walk with you through the application process – https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Livesimply-award/Livesimply-for-schools
Working towards these awards will also support the Geography, Economics, Politics and RE curriculum, along with fairly easy tie-ins to Art, Music and Drama.
Simple, free and quick actions for every student and staff member
You might find some creative ways to make a competition out of these, and some of them could be what students pledge to do after they have watched the form-time video mentioned above. These are quick lifestyle changes that all make a difference. How many litres of water would your school students save of they all turned off the taps while they brushed their teeth?
Turn off the lights when I leave a room;
Turn my TV, computer and xbox (or whatever the latest gadget is), off when I am not using them, rather than leaving them on standby;
Turn off the tap when I am brushing my teeth, only turning it on to rinse my toothbrush;
Carry a water bottle (or coffee cup) with me, when I am out and about, rather than using single-use bottles and cups.
Have at least two days a week where I don’t eat any meat;
Spend five minutes each day thanking God for the amazing plants, flowers and animals in the world.
Actions for a form, year group or the whole school
There will be some things where committing as a group, or the whole school, will make it easier for pupils and students, as well as staff, to get behind it. There will be other things which will take investment. Where we can, we have added a website, to help you to dive deeper and to get tips and hints for working on these areas with students. If you come across a great resource provider, please share the details with us at [email protected]
Walking or cycling to school, instead of being driven there.
Regular prayers for creation, in form time and assemblies.
You may well find there are students who want to lead on this, and there are superb resources at www.cafod.org.uk The resources are differentiated Primary/Secondary, and they also have a whole section of prayers for the “Season of Creation”. These include a “Rosary for Creation” and Liturgies and Masses themed with prayers for creation. They often have supporting powerpoints and other visuals.
Using an area of the school grounds to grow fruit and vegetables.
The RHS have a website with loads of tips and hints all in one place: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own There is an RHS property at Hyde Hall in Chelmsford, which would also be an interesting place for a school trip, for any keen gardeners! For staff (and parents!) who are completely new to this, then there is also lots of advice for beginners at https://www.gardenersworld.com/plants/vegetable-crops-for-beginners/
Writing a letter to your MP asking what they are doing to help the planet.
There is an interesting Government website with advice about how best to contact your MP. You could even invite them in to be quizzed by a group of keen students! https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-an-mp-or-lord/contact-your-mp/
Researching about one country in the world that is already suffering because of Climate Change. Bangladesh or Haiti are examples in the news at the moment, and there are – sadly – many others.
The Cafod website has a powerful section devoted to current emergencies:https://cafod.org.uk/News/Emergencies-news. There is also a section about campaigning, including both political campaigning, and campaigning to influence large companies: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Latest-campaigns
Collect donations every week for your local Foodbank.
If you want to know more about how Foodbanks work, and how best to help locally, a good place to start is the Trussell Trust: https://www.trusselltrust.org/
Rewild part of the school grounds, making a special place for bees and butterflies, bugs and hedgehogs.
The Woodland Trust have a tremendous website, and they do wonderful work preserving and creating woodlands. They have some special pages on how to build a bug hotel
To help hedgehogs, have a look at the passionate work of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. If you are feeling ambitious use information from the Wildlife Trusts to build a hedgehog house, to help this increasingly endangered creature.
Seed bombs are a brilliant springtime activity, to easily create a colourful patch of garden with bee- and insect-attracting flowers. Find out how to make a seed bomb here.
Make sure everyone in school is Recycling everything they can.
Do students know how to check packaging to see what can be recycled? Do they know where to recycle, within the school? Linked to this could be work with the school caterers/kitchen staff to incentivise the use of reusable cups and bottles rather than selling single-use bottles of water and juice.
Check the suppliers of your school uniform and PE kit. Are they Fair Trade? Are they made by people who are being paid a fair wage?
For more information look at the Fair Trade Foundation website, which is full of brilliant information – good for Geography, Politics and Economics, as well as RE! https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
Finally, at a level that would include the SLT and School Governors, staff and students could take a wide-ranging look at how energy is supplied to the school, and whether the school could generate energy through solar panels or ground source heating.
The Diocesan Education Property Team can help with this, as some schools have secured grant funding to support generating renewable energy. A good source of general information is the Energy Saving Trust: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/