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Lessons for Life: Bronte Public School Leading the Way

By Vicky Bachelard, Waverley Council’s Sustainable Communities on June 5, 2018 in Other

Leading the way.

“Children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way,” sang Whitney Houston in one of her all-time favourite songs. And it certainly seems that learning good habits while we’re still young is far easier than un-learning bad habits when we are older.
Clare Baptist, assistant principal at Bronte Public School, believes the key to getting this right from the start is in real-life hands-on experiences – from solar panels to veggie gardens, all the way to the Bronte Loves Our Earth campaign. I caught up with Clare to find out more…

What is your favourite thing about being a teacher at Bronte Public School (BPS)?
I would have to say “a sense of community”. It is so inspiring to see people come together. The sense of belonging allows us to achieve wonderful things on a daily basis.

What is the Bronte Loves Our Earth campaign?
Bronte Loves Our Earth is a shared vision of the BPS community. We aim to protect the environment and benefit the local community. Our main focus for 2018 is to be a single-use plastic-free school and for all students to have 100% ‘nude food’ five days a week.

Why is it so important to have a sustainable school?
We are so close to the beach so there are constant reminders of the impact we have on the environment. Recently, on a walk through Bronte Gully with the students, we saw lots of polystyrene balls near the waterfall. The children could easily see where they came from and how they would travel into the ocean and harm the wildlife.

How are you cutting down on waste?
We are encouraging 100% ‘nude food’ – meaning lunches with no wrappers – and we are composting, recycling and cutting out single-use plastics from the canteen. We create much less waste now, and by the end of 2018 we aim to have no bins in our playground at all.

How does the My Organic School food co-op support your goals?
Our community can buy affordable organic food boxes, which spreads the concept of locally grown food. My Organic School has been a huge funding contributor for our veggie beds. The students get hands-on experience in growing and eating healthy food. We create quick and easy salads, wraps and basil pesto. Parents have been amazed when their children come home and ask to make a cabbage salad!

What are your top three tips for other schools and parents trying to do something similar?
1. Start with student awareness by looking at how you can effect change in your school environment, giving a real-life meaning to your project.
2. Implement ‘nude food’ lunches, which reduce the amount of waste going into landfill and litter in the school playground, meaning cleaner oceans.
3. Tap into the strengths and talents of the community and allow individuals to shine. People feel valued when they have contributed to a positive change.

BPS has also installed solar power as part of the free Council Solar My School Program. Find out more about how schools can get support for sustainability at secondnature@waverley.nsw.gov.au.

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