Wesley has a whole-College approach to sustainability. Let’s start with Part 1 – Wesley College Junior School.
Educational institutions like Wesley College take pride in the fact that they are shaping the minds of the future. These minds will solve problems and change the way society operates. What is concerning, however, is the fact that these bright minds will be living on an incredibly polluted planet.
From the Junior School to the Senior School and from staff to the OWCA, the whole College has become invested in trying to make a change.
In fact, within three months of adopting a greener outlook, the College had already made some small but positive changes. In 2018, Wesley College became a member of the Waste Wise Schools program. All staff members were provided with Keepcups to encourage more sustainable choices. Differentiated bins were introduced to staff kitchen areas to encourage recycling and composting. The use of single-use plastics, like disposable coffee cups and food wrappers in the canteen, has been reduced. Since the mentality shift, staff even limited their amount of printing by considerable amounts. Clearly, the staff are on board, but what of the students?
The Junior School students are, in many ways, leading the charge when it comes to thinking sustainably. At the very heart of the sub-school is the Sustainability Garden, designed and managed by Sarah de Laeter. The garden acts as a learning tool, teaching students that we can meet our present needs without compromising the needs of future generations.
‘The garden at Wesley allows the children to engage with their environment and to learn while they’re doing that,’ said Head of Junior School, Maria Hodges. ‘The way in which we use the garden is what makes it unique. We have our own Sustainability teacher, we have incursions for older students, we use it as part of everyday classes and as a play space during break times. There’s a real sense of caring: caring for the garden, for plants, for trees, for others, for themselves and for the future. It is part of a much bigger picture.’
Sarah agrees with this point. ‘The students learn so much in that space. They learn where our food comes from, how to recycle, how to be a better gardener and how to care for plants properly. I find it special that they can have the knowledge that they can grow vegetables at home and feel comfortable with living sustainably,’ she said.
Market Day at the end of every term provides a fantastic indication of what the Junior School students are learning in relation to sustainability. Parents are invited into the space and are able to buy produce that comes straight from the garden, including herbs, succulents, worm tea and flowers.
The students collect all the money that is raised, and this is used to buy new plants for the garden. As a result, there is a real sense of ownership of the garden, of nature and of the future.
This article first appeared in the Wesley College magazine, The Wesleyan. To read more articles from our Sustainability-themed edition, please click here.
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