Inspired by last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, NCEAT CEO, Alan Hardie, set pupils across the Trust challenge in the form of a competition to come up with an idea for an ‘eco project’ which their school could complete independently to supplement the work already being done by the Trust to operate more sustainably.

The winning concept submitted by Duke’s Secondary School came from the Year 9 class, ‘Oswald 2’, who suggested the creation of a wildflower garden to help encourage bees and other wildlife into the school grounds.

In recognition of their achievement, earlier this week, Year 9 were treated to a special assembly hosted by visitors from Northumberland National Park Authority who talked to pupils about the important role of National Parks across the UK and why we all need to do our bit to protect the natural environment.

During the assembly, pupils from Oswald 2 were presented with a special ‘CEO’s Leadership Award’ by Principal, Mr Atkinson, before heading off to take part in a workshop with the representatives from the National Park where they took a closer look at exactly what would be involved in creating the wildflower garden and what kind of wildlife they could expect to see benefit from it.

The wildflower garden project will form part of a Trust-wide initiative to help NCEAT reduce its carbon footprint. Other projects already underway at schools across the Trust include a beach cleaning initiative at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea by pupils from Bishop’s Primary School and the expansion and redevelopment of the vegetable garden at NCEA Warkworth C of E Primary School to help supplement the school kitchen.

Alan Hardie, CEO at Northumberland Church of England Academy Trust, commented:

“We were blown away by some of the entries we received to the COP26 competition. The level of thought that the pupils had put into their ideas and their consideration of both the long and short term benefits of their proposed projects was really impressive.

“We’re delighted with the diversity of the winning projects as a collective and we hope that the children will learn a great deal about the importance of protecting our natural world through their varied experiences.”