Developing Excellent Eco Practice to Achieve the Platinum Award – Willowbrook Primary School

School name(s): Willowbrook Primary School in partnership with Thornhill Primary School (Cardiff) and Penyrenglyn Primary School (RCT)

Name of Lead Person(s): Miss Lisa Davies / Mrs Harriet Barber (Eco Leaders)

Role of Lead Person(s): Eco Committee Leader

Lead person e-mail address:

Lead person telephone number: 029 2079 5965

Local Authority(ies): Cardiff

Phase(s): Foundation Phase and key stage 2


Context and background to case study

Willowbrook Primary School has implemented the seven key elements of the Eco-Schools programme throughout school life over recent years. All aspects are reflected in school life and these comprise: litter, waste minimisation, energy, water, transport, healthy living, school grounds and global citizenship. The school achieved Bronze award, Silver award and four Green Flag awards as part of the eco-schools programme which led the school to be awarded with the prestigious ‘Platinum Award’ in November 2016. Schools achieve Platinum status once they have been awarded the Green Flag four times – demonstrating long-term commitment to environmental education, student involvement and sustainability. As a result, the school no longer needs regular assessments but is required to submit a short annual report on the green activities that they take part in. The school, which encourages pupils to engage in environmental and sustainable development issues, has continued to demonstrate enthusiasm and excellence in reducing the school’s carbon footprint.

Nature of strategy or activity

  • The school has a well-established Eco Committee. Each class from Year 2-6 has an eco-representative who attends eco meetings and an after-school eco club fortnightly. During this time, they discuss key actions, ways forward and possible events that could take place in school.
  • The school creates an action plan at the beginning of each academic year summarising what the key actions will be in each of the 7 topic areas. This SMART action plan is created with pupils’ input from the Eco-Committee who then prioritise the order and timescale for achieving these targets.
  • The school arranges regular trips throughout the academic year for the Eco-Committee to gain knowledge and raise awareness of eco initiatives sharing ideas on how to implement these in school life.
  • The school has an eco display to show the eco work being carried out and details of upcoming events. The Eco-Committee also run assemblies and plays a key role in involving the whole school.
  • The school’s Eco-Code, written by the pupils, is displayed throughout the school to serve as a constant reminder to reduce, re-use, recycle, save energy and look after the school grounds.
  • The Eco-Committee display eco work and upcoming events on the school’s website and twitter page to involve parents and the wider community.
  • Numerous eco event days and activities are organised throughout the academic year by the Eco-Committee to raise awareness about sustainability: Go Green Day, Big School’s Bird Watch week, litter picking and eco poster competitions to name a few.
  • To minimise waste throughout the school, new recycling and food waste bins have been bought for the Foundation Phase and key stage 2 playgrounds to encourage children to place their rubbish in the correct bins.
  • The school also uses statistical data and graphs to demonstrate waste reduction in the school; for example by counting the number of black and green bags they put out for rubbish and by recording paper reduction.
  • The school council works alongside the Eco-Committee team to promote healthy eating in the school. The children are provided with stickers at lunch time if they bring a ‘healthy lunchbox’ to school.
  • The Eco-Committee look after the school grounds by watering plants, maintaining the bug hotels and litter picking. Each class has a planter outside their classroom and are responsible for its upkeep.
  • To save energy, solar panels were installed which has saved the school hundreds of pounds in electricity bills. The school has an Eco Police team who make sure all the electricity in the classroom is turned off when not in use.
Impact on provision, teaching and learning and/or leadership

  • In February 2017, the Eco-Committee took part in an iCan Eco Challenge which required them to showcase an exhibition at the National Museum of Wales. The school were awarded the ‘iCan Eco Challenge Most Sustainable School’ award.
  • The school has established a partnership with another primary school to share excellent practice of Eco-schools.
  • Alongside the transport element of Eco-Schools, Willowbrook has achieved their ‘Sustrans Silver Award’ which promotes healthy living by walking and cycling to school. In addition, the school has a JRSO (Junior Road Safety Officer) team who encourage safe parking around the school and issue fines to anyone who is parked incorrectly outside the school grounds.
  • Throughout the school curriculum, we ensure that there is an eco link wherever possible; for example, many year groups study topics such as sustainability, renewable energy and fair trade.

Where is the effective practice recognised?

  • Consortium Challenge Adviser
  • Liz Berry, Deputy Headteacher at Thornhill Primary School