Sustainable Schools Program

News update:

Old troughs used as worm farms

Sustainable Schools update:

2019 is busy for all matters environmental- student actions, frog bog, cooking, walk to school, World Environment Day, Resource Smart. . .the list goes on.  

The Enviro Leaders have been identifying areas of the school that have problems, e.g. littering and plant damage, and are in the process of creating signage to inform everyone who shares the schoolyard.

We have some very proactive students involved in growing, maintaining and creating garden zones. With everyone’s care we can continue to build the biodiversity at ENPS.

Veggie gardens and wicking bed conversions are being revamped – students have been learning about no dig, layered gardens and next week will plant their food forests. This produce will then be used in the Enviro Cooking program.

An ongoing target is to reduce the amount of wrappers coming to school. Zero waste is always the aim and we applaud the parents who are sending lunches to school in reusable containers. However we seem to have a lot of wrappers coming to school and not all of them are returning home. Our school policy does support this initiative for reducing waste. Together we can make a huge difference.

Enviro Cooking program is buzzing along as the Year 5 and 6 students are involved in an integrated program where students learn basic recipes in relation to their class’s current unit of work. Historical, environmental, cultural and social aspects are also explored in these sessions. We have managed to utilise some school garden produce in every session so far. If you’d like to get involved we always appreciate assistance.

Walk to School data will be collected soon. This will be graphed and compared to Ride to school data collected earlier this year (both measure the same travel arrangement indicators). Finally this data is entered on the new Resource Smart website as part of our Energy monitoring process.

Each year we celebrate World Environment Day. On the day each level of the school will participate in 3 sessions related to a changing theme. The whole school activity day is designed to get us all thinking about the positive impact of home-grown produce in terms of energy, water, waste and biodiversity . . . and of course Healthy Eating!  Year 6 students will attend a program at Edendale and then become the educators in a Kids Teaching Kids session with their Prep buddies.     

June events: Carolyn Shurey, our Resource Smart facilitator, will present a Professional Development session to staff on the updated Resource Smart AussiVic program. A requirement of this program is that schools undergo re accreditation every 7 years- we have 18 months to fulfill all the expectations. If you would like to find out more about this please contact Jo Harwood or check out the information about modules on the following link:

Plans are under way for to expand our Frog Bog behind the two-storey BER building.

What a busy time we’re having- trying to continue the improvement of daily routines around the school – waste, water, energy and biodiversity – and working out new ways to solve problems like wrappers, food scraps and denuded sections of the school yard.  Congratulations to all the students who capably represented our school in a variety of forums and are always keen to help. It’s great to see everything growing in the garden although it does mean we need more hands to help keep the unwanted plants under control- Growing Club needs your assistance. 

We are well on the way to addressing some of our waste issues, with:

  • The ‘Chopper squad’ planned to take care of food scraps with some new tools.

  • Watch out for the ‘Paper pirates’ who will be ‘sailing’ around the school looking for ‘hidden treasures ‘ to stow in their chests . . . bins.

  • Year 5 & 6 students planting and nurturing a corridor of indigenous/ local plants along the new building

  • Environmental Leaders begin a consultation process with their class mates, parents and staff to develop an environmental and artistic school yard plan

  • New seedlings will be planted in the garden beds as the weather becomes warmer

  • The whole school will be involved in the NAB celebration/ Water Day

  • A group of our senior Environmental Leaders will present a workshop at the Resource Smart Awards on the 16th of November

  • Level 1 and 2 students will have their turn at making their salads in the community space

  • Now that we have enough caps, the Cap Art Project will be under way in term 4

  • A community landscaping project is planned – we’d love to have you join with us to make a big difference.

‘Out of the mouths’ of our expert students. . . This morning a visitor to the school was interviewing myself, and some students, about the worm farms. She was amazed at their level of knowledge and left the school saying she’d learnt so much from us in her time here.


Carolyn Pickburn (representing Nillumbik Council ) presented our Enviro captains with an Arbor Week grant. This money will enable us to buy plant stock to create a corridor behind the new BER building.

Connect with Edendale Farm

In the 5/6 and 3/4 teams the veggies are growing steadily and will soon become the stars of the lunchtime Cooking Club. Amanda Newing and a group of 5/6 students have been growing plants from seed. More details next issue. 

Speaking of energy savings - Watch the black tubs in the Atrium – They will be providing an example of how growing local can save you heaps of energy. Level 2 students will be the ‘carers’ for this area.


We can all work together to keep reducing waste by:

  • Using containers

  • Buying in bulk- avoiding small packets and packaging

  • Taking wrappers home

Just recently I was reading an article that was reminded that we should all be trying to buy products that use recycled products.

The history of our school's approach to sustainability: 

We commenced our 'Sustainable Schools' journey back in 2003. A focus on environmental issues and sustainable practices had already kindled via implementation of the Science In Schools Project (SiS).  Initially partnerships were developed with CERES, Nillumbik Council and Edendale Farm and the process of attaining milestones using expert advice, grant funding and support of the school and wider community began. Working together, and with the assistance of grants, we fulfilled the requirements for the Energy module 12/2005, Water 19/04/2006, Waste 26/4/2006 and Biodiversity 17/07/2006. Since then we have been making positive improvements to the school facilities.

We also commenced the transition to Resource Smart Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI Vic). Based on our past and current performance, our sustainability status was then aligned by CERES and Sustainability Victoria to the 5 Star Sustainability criteria -  acknowledging our past achievements.  Our school qualified to become 4 Star "Leadership" certified in the then current 5Star Sustainability Certification - acknowledging the completion of the AUSSI Vic Core Module and four other Resource Modules to qualify for this certification. This program enables students to engage in a diverse range of learning experiences to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours to make informed decisions about their impact on the environment. In November 2007 ENPS won the Energy Smart Schools Award for Victoria and were a finalist in 2008.  Students presented an overview of our achievements at the MCG.  

On 24 May 2011, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, The Hon Ryan Smith MP, announced in a media release, that Eltham North Primary School was one the first recipients of the Resource Smart Schools program five-star sustainability certification awards.”

“By achieving this rating, these schools have demonstrated significant leadership in their communities. “Each school has found creative and efficient ways to integrate waste, water, energy and biodiversity initiatives into their everyday actions,” Mr Smith said. 

On 21st November Hon Jan Kronberg MLC presented the award at the school assembly.

The key activities that led to the schools achieving 5-star sustainability certification include:

  • Core aim to develop lifelong sustainable practices

  • Educational, practical and community activities

  • Leadership training to empower pupils to lead, educate and motivate their peers

The attainment of 5 Star "Leadership" certification recognises our school's ongoing commitment to creating sustainable practices, infrastructure and integrated learning.  We celebrate this achievement and continue our Resource Smart journey by remaining connected with other schools through sustainability networks. Communication in many forms (presentations, murals, signage, photo’s, assemblies, PD sessions, website articles) is an essential element of this program.

At Eltham North Primary School we believe ‘Little changes can make a big difference'. Our sustainable journey continues with the whole school community involved in learning, developing lifelong sustainable practices and empowering students to become future leaders. These goals encompass all aspects of our planning, implementation and practices. They drive us to further reduce our Energy, Waste and Water requirements and increase the Biodiversity of our school environment. Our dedication to continuous improvement has led ENPS to develop infrastructure that caters for SS to be incorporated into all levels of our school’s operation. The sustainable schools program challenges and engages teachers and students to grow as passionate learners and leaders who are connected and motivated, demonstrating practical change to school operations and life long behavioural change in using resources more wisely. Being a 5 Star Sustainable school also provides opportunities for our students lead in their own school and inspire others in the wider community.

ENPS SS Journey Initiatives:

Some of the initiatives implemented include:

  • Piloted various interactive program, e.g.’Sustainable Household Challenge’

  • Worm farms, compost bins set up for organic food waste

  • Rubbish Free lunch days led to waste free school policy.

  • Participation in Clean Up Australia school events annually.

  • Installation of an efficient power consumption system that reduces lights by 10%

  • Renewed and upgraded school power supply/board systems

  • Continued reduction of energy via specifically designed monitoring device that reduces power needs for lighting by 30 %..

  • Fluorescent lights replaced be tri-phosphorous tubes

  • Solar power 5.2 kw system installed to offset energy needs and provide education opportunities

  • Initially 4,500 & 22,500 litre tanks installed- resulted in 25% reduction in mains water use.

  • Installation / upgrade of dual-flush cisterns and flow control devices in toilets

  • Solar film on windows

  • Flow control efficiency devices on all taps

  • Timers on taps

  • Installation of skylights

  • Buckets under taps connected to garden beds

  • Greenhouse installed for propagation / planting

  • Habitat garden for the Eltham Copper Butterfly

  • Environmental murals around the school

  • Ongoing creation of display murals based on core modules of environment program

  • Environmental leaders engage in leadership programs, Sustainable School activities and create signage.

  • Additional water tanks to supply staff toilets, greenhouse and toilets

  • Vegetable garden boxes created in 3/4 and 5/6 area

  • Four SS lunchtime programs in operation – Environmental leaders, Growing, Creating and Cooking clubs.

  • Networking through TEN (environmental teacher’s network)

  • Liaising with local organisations.

  • Whole school, multi-age activity days, based around Waste, Energy, Biodiversity and Water, are implemented to -embed Sustainable practices and information.

  • Displays with messages, definitions and facts created that highlight SS information .

  • School website is used to communicate Sustainable School practices and provides links to relevant websites.

  • Parent engagement in lunchtime programs, whole school days landscaping projects

  • Various Resource Smart achievements

  • Partnership with Edendale – Edible Eltham school demonstration garden project

  • First water LILI school to achieve gold status in Yarra Valley Water

  • Continuing to take up initiatives like: Carbon Sinks, Greenhouse Games Challenge, Tree project

  • Planning and presentations for Resource Smart, Water LILI, Kids Teaching Kidsconferences

  • A SS School Improvement Team implements a yearly action plan, organises events and reviews our practices and activities.

  • SS built into Start up program at the start of every school year.

  • Healthy Eating Schools Program incorporated into SS program

  • School program incorporates SS modules in units of work, resources include interactive websites

  • Outdoor education zone created by parents -Landscaping Community project

  • Information disseminated to the wider community via website

Benefits from these initiatives have been many and varied –including: annual 10% reduction in most areas of measurable outcomes monitored via SETs, and the provision of many opportunities for our students and school community. As our school population has risen, we have addressed a number of challenges: providing extra facilities, increased demand, including: computer usage, interactive whiteboards, extra classrooms, installation of air conditioning and the impact of BER building project. Our auditing processes (SETs) indicates that our practices and ongoing improvements are compensating for increased demand.  Our challenge now is to explore opportunities to continue further reductions in Waste, Water, Energy throughout the school and creating and engaging in opportunities to increase Biodiversity in and beyond the school environment – in other words to embrace challenges positively to create lifelong sustainable learning and environmentally sound outcomes.

For further information go to the school website.

Environmental Management Plan Summary:

The core purpose of our program is to equip our school community to develop lifelong sustainable practices. It is a dynamic program that continues to evolve as changes occur in our school setting.

The ENPS Sustainable Schools School Improvement Team (SS SIT) devises an action plan each year with term goals with specific actions to be targeted. This encompasses classroom, whole school programs and new initiatives are systematically implemented throughout the year. Our two SS Coordinators plan whole school days in conjunction with the SS SIT, classroom teachers and students, co-ordinate Environmental Leaders meetings, grants and applications, newsletter, website, coaching program, maintenance, promotions, conduct school visits and provide staff and parent PD. Environmental Leaders attend meetings, leadership conference, prepare for promotion, provide peer leadership, are involved in decision –making, initiate and monitor classroom practices. Representatives from each level of the school meet regularly, provide feedback to and from level teams, and ensure targets are implemented. Many of them are involved in lunchtime activities or oversee other sustainable projects.

Curriculum based units of work are planned and implemented by teachers at each level. Displays, signs, photos, murals and short films, created by students and teachers, reflect the learning and provide visual reminders for all our school community. These are prominently exhibited around the school and on the website.

Data is collected and recorded using SETs – an interactive website. Our commitment continues with our SETs data confirming the achievement of ongoing reductions in each year, and highlights areas for improvement. 

Local community organisations work in partnership with ENPS. These include Edendale Farm, Yarra Valley Water and Nillumbik council. Facilities sub-committee of School Council encourage parents to participate in community landscaping projects, provide expert advice and specific services, prepare and engage in maintenance activities. Our School Council promotes and supports many initiatives. The team plan and implement any aspects of the SS initiatives, e.g. providing resources, expertise and ensuring effective installation of infrastructure to continue to reduce our environmental impacts at ENPS.

“Our school is involved in this program to reduce greenhouse gases so that we can have a healthy environment to live in.” Ruby and Gabriel  

“If we learn it now we can apply the skills so we continue doing it and teach other kids so that they can help and our future is cleaner.”   Georgia and Caitlin

“So you learn to be sustainable everywhere else and not just at school.” Tareq

“We’re learning how to save water and energy, reduce our waste and how to grow food to eat, and making homes for wildlife creatures like possums” Madison

“Everyone working together to make a difference to our environment and global warming.” Ruby and Ellorie

“To encourage other people to try and change so that they’re not using as much resources and making pollution.” Gabriel and Ellorie

Actions Plan: 

In an effort to keep the program active, creative and challenging, we have found that elements of the SS program need to be constantly reviewed and evolving – e.g. leadership initiatives, addressing ongoing waste issues. This year, the following actions include:

  • Leadership training

  • Addressing the challenge of encouraging all ENPS students, staff and parents

  • To continue developing environmentally sustainable practices and individual responsibility for our actions

  • Engaging more parents and the wider community in SS program activities

  • New crews established – water, recycling, waste – with new identification.

  • Trialling new concept in worm farms – in partnership with Edendale farm

  • Tour lunchtime programs for students with teacher/ parent partnership

  • Establishing a school demonstration garden at Edendale via the Edible Eltham pilot project

  • Incorporating SSmore creatively / holistic approach

  • Power of the web – regular updates, articles photos, information

  • Creating art around the school to highlightSS modules

  • Whole School World Environment day - June 6th

  • Book launch of Environmental Poetry project book ’Building Bridges’ at New Voices festival

  • Whole school Water Week activities in October

  • KTK conference in conjunction with Edendale/ Banyule council to link in with Nillumbik Councils’ Practically Green festival in October

  • Celebration of 5 star-certification.

ENPS SS future plans:

  • Continued improvement in SS practices to reduce ENPS ecological footprint

  • Providing leadership, mentoring for schools

  • Working towards the establishment of an environmental education/ kitchen garden centre, involving the students, parent body and wider community.

Together we can make a difference.

From the garden:

The current wave of cold weather, with some decent rainfall, has slowed down what we do in the garden.  We continue to work on our no-dig vegie gardens!

View the photos taken this morning to see what the Growing / Cookingclub will be preparing in the next few weeks. Students have recently enjoyed salad and ‘Stampot’ prepared with a range of ingredients fresh from our school gardens.

Greenhouse Games Household Challenge - completed

Thank you to households who participated in this energy saving program.

Waste –an ongoing issue:

Parents we need your help !

At ENPS we have a waste policy that encourages students to bring lunches with no or minimal wrappers.  Many families are doing their best to package their students in recyclable containers. However it appears that more and more little packets with individual wrappers are coming to school in some lunches and ending up in the school yard. We would appreciate your   support to help develop lifelong sustainable practices by reducing waste in lunchboxes and ensuring any wrappers return home.


A team of ten students prepared their Water Rap presentation and co-operative learning and public speaking skills for the inaugural Kids Teaching Kids Practically Green Kids Creek Conference. Eltham North Primary School hosted this event in conjunction with Edendale Farm with support from both Nillumbik and Banyule Councils. Approximately 108 students from 12 local schools had the opportunity to learn from each other in a full day’s program based on water and biodiversity themes. In workshops, the children worked with local experts, a guest speaker and viewed each others presentations, participated in a forum and made pledges for local actions at their school. We are fortunate to have local providers, like: Yarra Valley Water, Waterwatch and Edendale nursery supporting this event.


This term our focus is on Biodiversity. One of our biggest challenges is to develop a school environment that caters to our students’ needs as well as providing for indigenous flora and fauna.  We have several projects on the go. Two buffer zones,  planted with indigenous and native plants, are to be developed as part of this year’s Arbor Week grant – one at the front of the school and another near the greenhouse. Now that we’ve had some rain, the planting of vegetable gardens can commence. The Level 2 students’ herbs are growing beautifully and they enjoyed eating food prepared with them recently.

Presentation: Inaugural waterLILI Youth Forum:

Students participated in the activities and planned and ran a session for Years 5-10 students at Donvale Christian college. After the inspirational Dan Adams delivered the keynote speech, everyone participated in a hip hop workshop presented by the Indigenous Hip Hop Projects group. In their presentation, our students encouraged their group to use thinking hats to tease out aspects related to driving change as primary school leaders. We thank the kids for giving up their time to prepare and present so capably at the forum. They are a positive example of leadership in action. 

Environmental Poetry and Art Publishing Project:

To kick off this project, Mark Carthew, an acclaimed author, inspired staff at a professional Development session recently. In the student sessions, he shared his poetry, song and published books infast-paced sessions last week. He will return later in the term to conduct writing workshops with the level 4 classes.

World Environment Day: 


World Environment Day (WED) was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972.

Celebrating WED is about the inspirational power of individual actions that collectively become an exponential force for positive change.

WED thematic celebrations have in the past included: caring for the earth and water, the ozone layer, climate change, desertification and sustainable development.

WED is celebrated around the world in many ways, including street rallies, bicycle parades, green concerts, essay and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, recycling efforts, clean-up campaigns and much more.

WHAT IS ENPS DOING ON World Environment Day?

The whole school, including interested parents, will be involved a range of activities again to develop understandings, explore and share knowledge, engage in art and hands-on activities around the themes of forests and recycling.  Additional WED websites and activities

Tree project: 

Our little seedlings are still popping up –  hopefully all our seeds will sprout, survive and return to their Trentham farm as healthy young plants (7 boxes - each with 48 seedlings)  later in the year. Meanwhile a group of dedicated students ensure they are kept watered every day.

Kids teaching kids:

A group of students are busy helping Mrs Newing gather and analyse data related to our baseline report. They have been measuring waste, compost, calculating the percentage of covered areas in our school and finding out how our staff and students get to school. This information is recorded on an interactive website: School Environmental Tracking System   (SETS).

Over the past few years we have been tracking all our utilities. This year’s data is roughly the same or gone down despite our numbers going up. The trend at our school has been an average of 10 percent reduction in Energy, Water and Waste during the period when our school population has raised from 350 to 525 students and of course an increase in teaching staff and additional classrooms being in the school building. This means we have accumulate saving of approximately 70% in Energy, 50% in Water and over 50% in waste despite a large growth in school population. This is due to ongoing upgrading of our infrastructure and the sustainable practices in place at ENPS.

By working together we can learn how we impact on our environment and set up practices to keep reducing our usage and production of greenhouse gases.  

Our Water Our future:

During summer, we experienced increased rainfall – above average. This was great for our gardens but catchments are still low. You can track the status of our water storages by visiting the following website:

Water Learn It Live It Conference

Recently I attended the annual Water Learn It live It conference. The keynote speaker was an inspiring young marine biologist who has received numerous accolade, including: Young Australian/  Environmentalist of the year. She’s made films, written books and developed programs for many organisation.  She claimed her passion is what drives her and inspires her to go that one step beyond to make the seemingly impossible a reality. We learnt how meters and data loggers are making positive, sometimes huge impacts on school water conservation. At ENPS we are already using Meter Mate –  which tracks our usage and detects leaks. A session on Virtual Water has all the participants gasping as we worked out how much embodied water we all use each day.  Victorian residents are now using on average of 155 litres but did you know that the embodied water is about 2900 litres per person! For example it takes about 800 litres of water to make 1 litre of milk. In our last session: Give Me The Money we discovered that parents, teachers and even students have been involved in seeking grants and were given useful frameworks and tips to help in the grant writing process. We look forward to getting our school community involved during 2011.

Greenhouse House games results:

Our small group of committed participants from the Eltham North Primary School community earned 5,653 Green House Games points and achieved a total saving (annualised estimate) of:

26.39tonnes of greenhouse gas

351,941litres of water

1.45 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill

By participating in the Green House Games Schools Challenge they have supported an innovative behaviour change pilot designed to help minimise the impacts of climate change.


The sudden onset of hot weather is highlighting the need to maintain our gardens. Whilst we have a dedicated group of students who tend to this during school hours,  we are looking for some volunteers who can help keep our garden alive during the school holiday break. If you know you will be home for any time during the holidays and are prepared to help – please contact Jo Harwood so we can draw up a roster and share the job.

Feedback from the Resource Smart Awards

A very excited group embarked the train at Eltham station and travelled to Flinders street. After a lovely morning tea the school presentations commenced in the impressive BMW Edge performance space at Federation Square.  Without direction, our group confidently positioned themselves on the stage and shared information, a Powerpoint presentation and performed a Water Rap that had the audience (approximately 400) involved. Many positive comments were received regarding their performance, outfits and their prowess.

Every school,  that presented, articulated the wonderful projects being undertaken to enhance sustainability and ‘make a difference’. It was interesting to hear our students saying :

‘Yes we do that ‘ and ‘that’s a good idea’ as the performances continued. These primary and secondary students certainly impressed the special guests (including Minister for Sustainability, sponsors, resource providers) and other adults present on the day. It was also interesting to note that behind each group there was at least on key ‘driver’ who leads motivates and inspires our future leaders.  Amongst the 87 Victorian schools represented, there were new schools joining the challenge to become Resource Smart. 

Kate:  It was held at BMW Edge in Federation square. There were 11 people there from ENPS and we all did a performance together.  The kids that went were: Ben, Phoebe, riley, Holly, Connor, Ellorie,  Jacob, Ruby, David, Taylor and Kate. We performed a Water Rap, said speeches, played instruments and danced. My favourite performance was where they used thongs and bins for instruments. I also like the college who instead of doing a performance aid to the first row and then the third row and so on, to stand up, turn around and then the people sitting down would stand up and ask questions. And the first question was funny. All the performances were good but I think these two were the best. We got two certificates for Waste and Energy.

Taylor:  It was fantastic. I loved seeing how all the other schools are doing their part to save water ,waste, energy and biodiversity. I realised that we were doing most of the same stuff at our school,  except the wetlands projects.

David: It was a fun day and we learn a lot from the other schools and kids.  I learnt that there are a lot of ways to save energy.  ‘Why didn’t I think of that? It’s a great idea!’  -  like the wind turbine that one country school had. 

Phoebe: A lot of schools had chooks. I wish we could have some chooks at our school.  We could take turns looking after them. Also there were some cool sculptures made from waste– our school could make some really great sculptures to make our school yard more interesting.

Holly: At the Resource Smart Awards, I learnt that other schools work just as hard as us to be sustainable, and they are doing things we could try. My favourite part was when we performed and when we won the highly commended awards in Energy and Waste.

Jacob: It was really fun doing the Water Rap. I liked the Baan water model that a college used to demonstrate how sewerage, storm water and rain get into our waterways.

Riley: We had lots of fun. The snacks were really yum.

Ben: We had a great day because we were highly commended on Energy and waste and everyone was very confident in the presentation. I learnt that we basically do what the other schools do.  We could try to think more about when we’re dropping rubbish. Natalie from totally Wild was co hosting and she is looking for schools to be on the show.

What a dazzling assembly it was this week for the solar launch –not just the brilliant sunshine but also the sun inspired hats. Our special guest Colin Gillam from Solarsunwerx was grilled by one of our Enviro Leaders Holly. His answers provided a good insight to some of the facts about ENPS's 5.2KW solar system. Thank you to the parents who attended the parent information session.


On Monday morning’s assembly, Jenny Hiller, from Yarra Valley Water,  presented ENPS with a plaque to celebrate achievement of the GoldWater Learn It Live It milestone – the first gold school out of over100 schools involved in the YVW program. This successful outcome is the result of many educative and practical actions over the past 4 years.  We will be continuing our quest to further reduce our water consumption and increase learning opportunities to establish lifelong sustainable practices.