Chalk Talk: The green initiative that's leaving families in the dark


Sarah Adam first knew her daughter was taking green issues seriously when the lights kept going out. Sophie, aged 10, a pupil at Ashley Church of England primary school in Walton-on-Thames, had been inspired to save energy as a result of the emphasis on green issues at her school. "We couldn't walk out of the room without her flicking the switch and plunging us into darkness," says Sarah.

However, all the family has now been infected by Sophie and her older brother Harry's enthusiasm. "Plastic bags would never be allowed in the house now," said Sarah.

Research published by the Co-op, which has just launched a new green education programme for schools, shows six in 10 parents say their children are persuading them to be greener with recycling, conserving water and leaving the car at home as often as possible.

Richard Dunne, Sophie's headteacher, says most parents have warmly welcomed the school's focus on sustainability. He acknowledges, though, that there might be a couple who thought "oh, no, not another green issue!".

His main worry, though, is that the focus on sustainability is not carried through to secondary school. He insists, though, that it enhances learning by making pupils more enthusiastic about their learning.

As part of one exercise, children went down to the local shops and interviewed shopkeepers and staff about how they could improve their sustainability – thus learning interviewing skills and boosting their self-confidence.

Meanwhile, if your child's school has adopted the green programme to the full, expect it to be accompanied by a few changes around the house!

Comment of the week last week comes from Dr Patrick Roach, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers. Addressing a conference organised by the Westminster Education Forum aimed at predicting the year ahead for education, he said the Government's motto often seemed to be: "All schools must be better than average."

That, though, would surely have to lead to a change in the approach to maths education at Sanctuary Buildings – home of Education Secretary Michael Gove's department.