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Birdham CE Primary School Print

Location: Chichester, East Sussex

“Team Green Britain really helps to clarify how everyone can make a difference,” says Peter Johnson the Head Teacher at Birdham CE Primary School in West Sussex. “It’s a classic example of an idea that suddenly gets quite large when you have lots of like-minded people involved.”

If those like-minded people are schoolchildren, Peter believes, then their influence can be stronger still. He's witnessed first-hand how pupils respond to the challenges of climate change with energy and enthusiasm - even to the extent where parents grumble about being forced to buy the most energy-efficient appliances available.

"They are a powerful influence and they can really change the hearts and minds of the adults around them," he says. "I'm always amazed by the energy that they put in. They see life from a different height and it's quite enlightening when you get their viewpoint. They are not as constrained as adults and they have real originality in the way they approach things."

Peter, who worked in agribusiness in the 1970s but became disillusioned with the measures being taken to increase yields through intensive farming, has been putting sustainability at the heart of teaching messages since he switched careers in the early 1980's. At Birdham, he's helped to create an outdoor classroom with five learning zones including an organic garden, orchard and conservation area. The school's renewable energy centre allows pupils to experience wind and solar power first-hand.

Green Britain Day 2010 provided a great opportunity for the school to involve the local community in its sustainable efforts. Planted with help from EDF Energy employees, the school's new tree nursery now provides a home for four different varieties of tree that will be planted out in the community to coincide with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. "It's a cracking event with a super legacy to it," says Peter.

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