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The Drive for Sustainability

15th September 2023

The events that unfolded during the summer of 2023 left little room for doubt — if any remained — that the climate emergency is undeniably upon us. With record-breaking temperatures morphing into devastating wildfires, and cataclysmic floods wreaking havoc worldwide, the imperative for us to confront the impact of humanity on our delicate planet became starkly evident. 

While it may sound like a cliché, the truth is undeniable: education holds the key to engraining this realisation into our collective consciousness.  

At King Edward’s School Witley (KESW) this educational mandate is a fervently held belief. The school is taking proactive measures to not only adopt sustainable practices, but also to cultivate critical thinking abilities and instil values of global citizenship.  

One of the driving forces behind our endeavors is the Eco-Schools Accreditation Committee (ESC), led by students. This Committee was conceived by Jacob Sprake, an Upper 6th student, who advocated for its formation to “empower students to enact positive change and cultivate a sense of responsibility for the planet”. Jacob explained that the Eco-Schools Green Flag accreditation is a globally recognised distinction bestowed upon schools demonstrating exceptional dedication and accomplishments in advancing environmental sustainability. To secure this, the Committee evaluates the school’s overall environmental impact and, through the implementation of eco-friendly practices, integrates sustainable thinking into the school culture and undertakes significant eco-projects. These endeavors should exhibit clear evidence of active progress towards a more sustainable and environmentally conscious school community. 

The Eco-Schools Committee is notably student-led, as Jacob highlighted, wherein “students assume complete responsibility for the committee’s operation and success. It’s open to all students across all years, from 1st Form to Upper 6th, enabling them to genuinely affect tangible change. Students take the lead, engage with their peers, and develop crucial skills such as project management and problem-solving, all while fostering a true sense of accountability.”  

Following the footsteps of Barrow Hills, which achieved a Merit Accreditation last academic year, KESW has now established its own Committee to lead efforts throughout the 2023/24 academic year and beyond, on the path to accreditation. It’s composed of six dedicated Sixth Form students – Jacob Sprake, Olivier Hinds, Christopher Hooper, Sam Hon, Rosa Ryder, and Ivan Escandell-Calvache – and guided by Mr. Simon Lightman, Head of Philosophy, Politics, and Religious Studies. This core team will receive support from representatives across all year groups, ensuring contributions throughout the school. 

During last summer term, the committee initiated an extensive audit of the school’s current progress, and established the groundwork and systems for our projects to thrive in the upcoming academic year. 

Based on our findings, the committee has chosen to concentrate on three focal areas: waste, water, and energy. They will spearhead initial projects in these domains, including advocating for a policy shift towards becoming a single-use plastic-free school, coordinating litter cleanup events, and conducting a student-driven assessment of departmental resources to promote reuse and reduction. These initiatives will align with efforts by our Estate Management team, such as energy-efficient lightbulbs, electric vehicles, and solar panels, propelling us toward a more sustainable school environment. 

Our vision is for KESW to emerge as a symbol of a sustainable future. Accordingly, we encourage parents and alumni to engage and back our initiatives. All are welcome to participate in shaping our parent/alumni sustainability liaison committee. Those interested can reach out directly to Mr. Simon Lightman for additional information. 

Together, KESW will contribute to nurturing principled leaders of tomorrow, ready and capable of forging a more sustainable future. 

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