Bio Booster is our habitat hero.
With a little help from his friends at Eltham North he is striving to repair our environment and create healthy habitats for our plants and animals to live in.
Planting and protecting indigenous trees and shrubs and providing nesting places for possums, birds and many insects is his quest.
*ENPS has finally found a solution for limited growing spaces. A new outdoor teaching space with raised vegetable garden boxes was constructed in a previously unused area. Parents, teachers and students worked together to create a new outdoor teaching area in community landscaping projects.
*Resource Smart prize money enabled students to establish the native border for this area.
*Propagating natives and seedlings for ENPS, and the Retree Project, continues in our greenhouse.
*On World Environment Day’s every student planted seeds, made terrariums or prepared cuttings for home.
*Biodiversity is a whole school focus in Term 2.
*During the Level 1 Environments unit, Prep students explored flora and fauna, and factors impacting on their local environment.
*Level 4 conducted a biodiversity audit in the coaching program. Climatic influences and vegetation overlays over time in our area were investigated and this knowledge was applied to ENPS’s environment.
*Growing club - a new lunchtime activity runs every Tuesday. Students from all levels have fun whilst learning and caring about the school garden - utilising our greenhouse and outdoor teaching zone.
*Creating learning zones - students contributing to and developing a school playground plan, designing and producing environmental messages for signage and posters
*We are establishing a cycle where we propagate seedlings, plant, harvest, eat and then compost any waste vegetable material.
*World Environment Day – creating slogans for peers.
Many factors contribute to successful outcomes for ongoing learning and continuous improvement of biodiversity in a school environment. At ENPS we had to address the following:
*Limited space – Catering for increasing school population on a hilly site precluded the traditional spread of vegetable beds. The planning and creation of this outdoor learning zone also needed to fit in with established greenhouse area. With the assistance of parental expertise to create a levelled area, covered teaching zone and large, vegetable planter boxes, students have now successfully grown, harvested and cooked their own vegetables –learning how growing your own can reduce food miles and taste better!
*Resources – Projects become a reality with support -Nillumbik council, Edendale farm, School Council, Resource Smart, Bunnings (some of our partners), students, parent s, wider community and teachers.
*Maximising Opportunities - Finding ways to prepare and carry out plans. Seeking input from all stakeholders- students, families, staff, Sustainable Schools team (with representation from all school levels). At ENPS, Family Landscape projects, involving the whole family and teachers, have replaced traditional working bees. Planning a year ahead –being aware of grants, having a term focus, having a team approach to support the range of activities involved in enhancing the biodiversity index.
*Time Constraints – We fit SS activities by planning for the year and then term by term. This creates a framework for implementing activities and real life learning opportunities for students, families and the wider school community. The Growing club and Creating / Discovery club are two lunchtime activities that allow students to be involved each week.
*Class focused and peer learning - Over time we have established a curriculum that encompasses aspects of biodiversity- Units of work in our 2-year scope and Sequence.
*Leadership - Environmental Leaders who are involved in a leadership program that empowers them to present confidently, in and beyond the school setting, communicate effectively and influence their peers.
A coaching program, trialled last year, has been expanded this year to provide specific learning related to SS component, such as: Biodiversity.
*Holistic approach: Interrelationship of all elements of Sustainable School program- Biodiversity/ Waste/ Water/ Energy –The process of our growing program incorporates all four components, e.g. we produce some of the resources for our gardens via the worm farms and compost maker. The water comes from rainfall either directly or via harvested water in tanks. Energy from the sun is necessary for growth and we can build up the biodiversity index by planting.
*Biodiversity is an identified section of Sustainable Schools in ENPS’s Action Plan.
*The Biodiversity policy document is available to all parents and anyone who visits our school website
*Biodiversity is affected by changes in school population and physical layout of our school. With a large building project commencing soon plans are already being devised to counteract the negative impact of our biodiversity index, including: developing other areas of the school environs, community-planting projects
*The SS School Improvement Teams Action plan specifies targets, timelines, outcomes and assigns responsibilities to ensure ongoing improvement.
*Students have been involved in the beginning stages of the design process –to present their ideas for their playground and school environment. Further consultation and negotiation will have a completed plan with accompanying priority list by the year’s end.
*‘How does your garden grow?’ –This council/ school funded project arose from a need to educate our school community, through hands-on experiences, how to plan and maintain gardens with the current climatic trends.
*Vegetable beds – now fully planted it is hoped to enhance this further (application for Stephanie Alexander program) as a future goal. Artwork, signage, information boards –which will be student driven projects are also planned for later this year.
*Partnerships with Edendale farm
*Retree and Weed Warriors are two programs we are currently involved with. Other planting activities we’re investigating are community plantings and higher levels of propagation (possibly in partnership with Edendale farm).
History: Our journey: ENPS received accreditation for the Biodiversity module back in June 2006. The focus of this module is for students to develop indigenous gardens and habitats to attract native wildlife, creating positive spaces for stimulating learning and play and quiet reflection. It also focuses on school ground development and master planning while increasing the biodiversity rating of the school.
What have we achieved towards being Biodiversity Smart ?
Well we have become ‘BIO’
Boosting Biodiversity – Increasing opportunities to increase ENPS Biodiversity Index have included: greenhouse propagating and planting, establishing a ‘Green Thumbs’ lunchtime activity (as part of the ENPS Challenge program), continuing the ‘work crew’, encouraging families for working bees, creating animal habitats – breeding boxes, Level 4 ‘Planting For the Future’ project, participation in Weed Warriors program, developing vegetable gardens, the ‘Adopt a plant’ scheme, parents taking over worm farms, maintaining butterfly garden and planning for a new Outdoor teaching area are all components of a multi- faceted approach this year.
Information – Focus of the Level 1 VELs unit of work enhanced with the classroom coaching program has enabled students to learn about the needs and environments of animals, investigate the impact of change on survival of species and raising awareness of local flora and fauna. An original song, murals and displays allowed the preps to communicate their learning to the school community. This year we have received many requests to host school visits (conducted by environmental leaders/ SS co-ordinators) Technology has been embraced (intranet, website, newspaper articles, recording events using various media) to inform ENPS and wider community.
Organising - planning for future learning, eg. creating outside learning area, establishing a ‘Sustainable Schools’ School Improvement Team with representatives from across the school, identifying goals and setting in motion means to achieve them, eg coaching program are the main changes this year. Our involvement in the Carbon /sinks program encompasses planning for carbon reduction but also boosts Biodiversity projects –we are working with local agencies to get involved in ‘Weed Warriors’ and possible Landcare projects. Our level 4 students were involved in‘Planting for the Future’ –a project sponsored by Nillumbik Council’s Arbor Week funding.
Some of the challenges we have over come to achieve these significant Biodiversity Smart outcomes include the following:
The geography of the ENPS school site, providing a balance of play and passive areas, remains a challenge. Expansion of our school, in response to larger numbers, and building extra teaching spaces is limiting opportunities for space. It is leading to creative solutions. Fencing off garden zones and planning for a new, outside teaching area in a previously unused zone are some solutions. Involving students and parents in planting programs is developing responsibility for designated areas of the school grounds.
Maintaining plants during breaks and reducing play damage is an ongoing issue. Environmental Leaders, SS team members and SC Facilities team work on projects to build the Biodiversity Index (qualified parent prepared calculations/recommendations).
Limited time and personnel to capitalise greenhouse opportunities was partially overcome with inclusion of these activities in Challenge Lunchtime program.
Planning for activities outside school site, eg Edendale Farm, ‘Weed Warriors’, possible future planting projects associated with Carbon Sinks project remains a focus.
The reformation of our work crew, (leader now in secondary setting) presented some problems initially but have now a cohesive, focused group who complete basic maintenance tasks.
We would like to plan for the introduction of chickens and are investigating possible impacts.
Who is involved in the school’s Biodiversity Smart activities:
The success of environmental education at ENPS relies being proactive in the provision of facilities, curriculum and learning experiences:
Environmental leaders (P-6) take an active role in the school. Older students support peers, provide feedback between class and meetings. Responsibilities range from encouraging responsibility for plant areas, modelling, creating signage and representing the school in the wider community.
All ENPS students are expected to be responsible their class areas. Participation in whole school events, eg World Environment Day, work crew provides hands on experiences and targets learning at all levels.
Classroom teachers contribute by modelling, engaging in planning, coaching and reviewing curriculum provision. A coaching program enhances curriculum provision.
The Sustainable Schools School Improvement Team with two SS co-ordinators, develops an Annual Action plan including identified needs and responds to school wide goals. Team members are involved in projects including: lunchtime activities, auditing, local projects, communication, PD, planting, mulching and composting.
Parents supervise worm farms, contribute at Working Bees, complete Biodiversity audit.
The School Council facilities team(parents/staff) engage inforward planning to ensure provision of resources for projects.
External organisations, such as: Nillumbik Council, Edendale Farm, CERES, provide valuable knowledge, activities, grants and resources to facilitate learning experiences.
Enhancing Biodiversity in school settings requires strategic planning to identify goals, finance and implement projects, involving student groups (Environmental Leaders), classroom teachers, parents and the facilities team. Catering for impacts of school growth, ongoing building projects and provision of play/ planted areas is an ongoing process.
Effective management practices- plan, implement, assess projects. Our journey continues with critical steps necessary to ensure the resources, expertise and procedures are considered in the school’s biodiversity plan. Goals identified at the end of each year, by groups, guides planning for the coming year. There are opportunities in many forums for the school community to have input. The facilities team (school council) and parents (working bees/worm farms) liaise with the SS Co-ordinators.
Budgets are prepared and grants accessed to fund projects. At curriculum level, regular audits of VELs planning documents, developing resources (both human and physical) and providing PD ensure learning is current and effective. A coaching program utilising multi-dimensional activities and local involvement has been trialed this year.
Regular Staff PD, meetings, coaching, whole school days enhance teacher and student learning.
Developing effective partnerships with community providers, such Edendale Farm (education/plants) ‘Weed Warriors’ and future goal of involvement with Landcare.
ARBOR WEEK PROJECT: Read all about our plans to build vegie garden boxes, worm farm zone and pergola and tables. Works to construct a large flat area for the extension to our Environmental Learning Zones