Pupil patrols clamp down on waste

Pupils from Westleigh High School promoting their green initiative Switch-Off Fortnight. L-R Jade Walker, Rebecca Williams, Ryan Wood, Jacob Holme, Natasha Evans, Jordan Prescott

Pupils from Westleigh High School promoting their green initiative Switch-Off Fortnight. L-R Jade Walker, Rebecca Williams, Ryan Wood, Jacob Holme, Natasha Evans, Jordan Prescott

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PUPILS at a secondary school in Leigh have been cracking down on wasted electricity after signing up to a national green initiative.

The Eco-Committee at Westleigh High School has been patrolling classrooms and clamping down on signs of rising carbon footprints during their recent Switch-Off Fortnight.

Pupils at Westleigh High School taking part in the school's switch off green initiative. L-R Jordan Prescott, Jade Walker, Rebecca Williams, Natasha Evans, Jacob Holme, Ryan Wood

Pupils at Westleigh High School taking part in the school's switch off green initiative. L-R Jordan Prescott, Jade Walker, Rebecca Williams, Natasha Evans, Jacob Holme, Ryan Wood

The 34 pupils on the committee have even been allowed to scold teachers for leaving classroom lights on and not shutting down computers properly.

The school’s new eco-warriors have been assisted in their war on waste by environmental regeneration charity Groundwork and campaign organisers The Pod, part of energy giant EDF.

Westleigh teacher Mark Swannell, who set up the Eco committee, said: “It makes a lot of sense for the school as well as the environment. The school is working towards lowering its carbon footprint and, from a financial perspective, it will lower our energy bills too.

“We did a walk-round the school and the amount of equipment left on overnight, especially monitors and photocopiers, was astounding. If all that was left on over the weekend, then cumulatively it really makes a difference.”

Switch-Off Fortnight is divided in two, with the first week involving energy monitors touring the school building and auditing the staff and pupils for any signs of wasting energy and devising campaigns to increase awareness of the benefits of reducing carbon footprints.

The whole school then joined together to save as much energy as possible during the second week, with tracking charts to enable forms and year groups to compete against each other to see who can be greenest, before a final audit was taken to see how much the school has improved.

The role of undercover auditors is certainly one which has gone down well with Westleigh pupils.

Eco captain Jade Walker, 14, said: “Switch-Off Fortnight is about saving power and helping your planet. We also get to tell the teachers off if they leave their lights on!”

Mike O’Brien from Groundwork said: “The team at Westleigh have really got the message out, but the switch-off means more than just thinking about saving energy for two weeks, it’s a long-term commitment.

“The students will continue during future campaigns to monitor and measure savings in consumption and related carbon dioxide emitted.”

The national campaign is run annually by EDF’s Energy Programme for Greener Schools, with more than 4400 schools and 1.5 million pupils signing up to take part this year.

Westleigh are already looking to make Switch-Off Fortnight a regular event, with the next one planned for mid-January.