Each of the Portland Nurseries four early years’ settings have achieved the Eco-Schools Green Flag Award for environmental awareness and conservation.
Eco-Schools is the largest environmental schools programme in the world. Operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), it runs in more than 60 countries.
The staff and children at Portland Nurseries formed eco-committees and created action plans based on their environmental reviews of their settings. From this they embarked on a wealth of activities to embed ecological awareness through child-led play.
The children have become light switch monitors to help conserve energy and Wildlife Detectives. They’ve helped develop habitats in the nursery gardens for local wildlife, with bee friendly planting, bug hotels, hedgehog dens and upcycled bird feeders from plastic bottles. The afterschool club children were awarded Gold for the RSPB Wildlife Challenge and all ages have been looking at the lifecycles of animals, with egg incubators and butterfly raising kits in the rooms.
For the ‘Healthy Living’ topic the nurseries grow their own herbs and vegetables in the nursery gardens and harvest these for the in-house cooks to use in the children’s menus and cooking activities, as well as in “cooking kits” to take home with parents.
Senior Manager Julie Lister commented; “We have also introduced a Physical Activity and Nutritional Coordinator in to each site to ensure all children are healthy and active all day; taking part in outdoor play, forest school sessions, baby yoga and trips to local parks and places of interest. We’ve also been using pedometers to see how many steps we walk and then seeing what we could do to increase the step count. The children have loved using stethoscopes to listen to how our heartbeats change after exercise”
As part of their ‘Sustainability Week’ the nurseries were recently visited by Nico Williams, illustrator of the book “Little Turtle Turns the Tide” who came to talk to the children about how we can help reduce plastic waste in the oceans.
Manager Director Anastasia Murphy commented; “As a company we make a conscious effort to improve the nursery environment and the local community. We have introduced more eco-friendly toys for the children made from natural and sustainable materials, changed all our lighting to LED and now use a new company to collect nappy waste to be recycled and turned into bio energy, diverting as much waste as we possibly can from landfill. Children are the scientists, environmentalists and activists of the future. Teaching them to respect and protect the environment is a crucial part of what we do here at Portland Nurseries. It’s been great to see how fully engaged the children and staff have been in all the activities, giving them a fantastic understanding of the world and instilling good habits at an early age.”