Our Environment competition – catch-up with 2015 winners

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Lochdonhead garden 1

‘Our Environment’ competition is an annual competition open to young Scots from the ages of 6 to 18, with the aim of getting them interested in environmental issues, as well as hopefully creating a legacy through the prize money and support to help bring their idea to life.

Here we speak to Pauline Inglis, Head Teacher of the 2015 overall competition winners, Lochdonhead Primary, to find out what they have done since winning, and the benefits they have gained from entering.

Lochdonhead Primary is very small, remote school on the Island of Mull. The island, although beautiful, is suffering from depopulation, and in order to ensure sustainability for the future of the island, staff at the school believe it is imperative that the pupils are taught, through meaningful engagement with their environment, all about how to become effective custodians of their environment, for the future growth of the area.

The school had an area in their grounds which needed to be developed, and as part of their submission to the 2015 Our Environment competition, the pupils wanted to create a conservation garden that they could use for learning, and could regularly open to the community.

The pupils also requested a wooden shed to be constructed, with the aim of using it as a small laboratory where they could have microscopes and science resources.

When asked what inspired them to enter the competition, Pauline said: “We were very proud of the work we were doing and felt it was a very good example of interdisciplinary learning, led by the pupils.

Making bird boxes for the garden

Making bird boxes for the garden

“The entry was a simple process and allowed us to showcase our on-going work. The parameters of the competition were broad enough to allow for a large scope of entries and there was no feeling of shoe-horning our work, which was important for us.”

Since winning the competition there has been much activity in the garden. The prize money has gone to ordering their outdoor scientific laboratory. This has to be done through a contracted supplier, and the school hopes to have this completed in the spring.

Pauline added: “As a very small, rural school, it is important to take opportunities to challenge ourselves in national competitions. It allows the pupils to be outward facing, realise that other people are interested in what they are accomplishing and gives an awareness of themselves and their role in their environment, both locally and nationally.

“Children are the future custodians of our planet. I believe it is imperative for children to develop a strong bond with their environment, understanding the challenges as well as the advantages of living in such a beautiful part of Scotland. The deep relationship will then help them develop an empathy and understanding for other areas of Scotland and the world. In order to sustain our environment, there has to be a deep understanding and respect for that environment.”

So, if you’re feeling inspired to enter this year’s competition, there’s still time to get your entry in before the 22 April 2016 deadline. Further information can be found on the competition website, and we also have a short video that explains what we are looking for.

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