When I tell people I work in climate change I think it’s fair to say assumptions are made… and those assumptions wear tie-dye and eat mungbean salad. It’s not surprising really that Bollywood nights, fireworks displays and generous lawyers don’t immediately spring to mind. But that is exactly what I love most about Solar Schools – it’s a far cry from a traditional carbon cutting campaign and it achieves so much more as a result.
For starters, I get to work with people like those in the video above. That’s the team from E.P. Collier, a small primary school in Reading that raised an incredible £11,000 in 3 months and installed a 3.8kWp rig. Luckily, they tell their story far better than I ever could so I would highly recommend taking 5 minutes out of your day today to watch the video and feel all lovely and inspired. And they aren’t the only ones, Reading has been undergoing nothing less than a solar revolution (largely thanks to their incredible council), with our other two Reading Solar Schools managing to sneak in their installs just before the Feed-in Tariff cut of in March. Now they’re busy continuing to fundraise and, just as importantly, telling their communities just why this project is so important to their school.
Each of our schools have impressed us in different ways. New Christ Church Primary (our video super stars on the homepage) are incredible at making sure all of their pupils are super excited about the project (extra long lunchbreaks when they hit their fundraising targets seem to have done the trick!). While New Town Primary have shown just how much people care about their school with some incredibly generous (and anonymous donors) helping them get closer to their ambitious target!
And of course, it’s not just schools getting involved – local church support in Reading has played a huge part. That’s exactly what Solar Schools sets to do, provide a way to unite communities behind simple, common goals – helping out local schools and cutting carbon.
And, it’s not just Reading. The green team at Five Islands school in Scilly can now count being solar superstars alongside their other carbon cutting efforts. When fast track Feed-in Tariff cuts threatened to scupper their ambitious plans, they rallied enough support to convince their Governors to make up the money needed for a 10kWp rig. While over in Cambridge, you could be forgiven for thinking that the team at Newnham Croft Primary had hired in an event company on the sly with a hectic social calendar meaning they are now the proud owners of 3.8kWp of shiny solar panels.
We feel privileged to have been involved with the 10:10 organisation and especially the Solar Schools project. Being involved really helped kick start our solar campaign here and led to a huge increase in awareness for all our pupils, staff and community members.
- Bryce Wilby, headteacher at Five Islands School, Scilly
Naturally, as a pilot project, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. For some of the schools that we launched with, this project just wasn’t right for them. Battle Primary in Reading discovered their roof was too shady, Kendrick School ran into some unforeseen issues related to their academy status and Framingham High picked a year already jam packed with activities and weren’t able to give the project the time it needed (but will hopefully be joining us in the next phase next year!).
Even so, our eight schools have raised an incredible £75,000 and installed five solar rigs. We think that’s pretty incredible. But in lots of ways, it’s been the other benefits that have left us in no doubt that this is a project the UK needs and that we, as 10:10, want to deliver.
The fact that Newnham Croft have completely revamped their eco strategy for the whole school, or that Five Islands are hooked and hoping to install solar on another four buildings! Or that New Christ Church pupils learned a Bollywood dance in the name of carbon cutting and E.P. Collier forged closer links with the businesses that surround them. These are the things that I love about Solar Schools and why I cant wait to open up the project to more schools across the UK.
Now where did I leave those mungbeans…