All children want to play in an attractive school yard brimming with flowers and grassy spaces, but in the summer term these can take an awful lot of watering. Add to that the growing numbers of gardening clubs in Wiltshire schools and it seems they now require serous quantities of the wet stuff.
So the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is encouraging schools to save water and use it wisely. It has just selected 12 schools out of 211 to receive a free water butt based on their proposals for how they will use them, what they will use the water for, and how they will spread the word about water conservation throughout the school community.
Wessex Water gave the Trust a Wessex Watermark Award of £500 to run the countywide competition.
“Schools find water conservation hard to address without spending lots of money on changing tap fixtures and altering their plumbing. So we said: ‘We’ll give you the tools if you show us what structure you will put in place to save water’,” says the Trust’s Education Officer Sian Newman.
“The winners have to install their water butt and run a water conservation campaign over the summer term for the whole school. We will go back to judge at the end of the summer term and the top three schools will win a share of £100 in garden vouchers for the best awareness raising campaigns and for making sure that saving water becomes deeply rooted in the school ethos,” she says.
Churchfields Village School in Atworth, near Melksham will be using the saved water on its newly established growing areas and mini greenhouse.
“The School Council wants to run a “Name Our New Butt” competition and run a project to decorate the butt so that it becomes a feature and talking point among the children. We can monitor water levels/rainfall and use the results in our maths activities, and apply learning in science and geography about the water cycle to how the butt works. It would also feed into the work that Key Stage 2 children are doing about rivers and water consumption,” says Science Coordinator Andrea Liddiard.
Shalbourne CE Primary School is just starting out on the Eco Schools Award, but already has a recycling scheme, composting and even a wormery in place. Now it wants to add the water butt into the environmental mix “We want to harness the water for our vegetable gardens, hanging baskets and grow bags for tomatoes,” says Head Teacher Ruth Matthews.
“The Eco/Gardening Club will use it to get the save water message out to the rest of the school, and we plan to get the children to share information on water conservation in the environment through feedback in class lessons and also through our school page in the local parish magazine,” she says.
While St Joseph’s Catholic School in Laverstock, near Salisbury, plans to run three assemblies informing the children about saving water as well as feature the butt and information on a rolling screen in the main entrance and put it on the school’s website.
The 12 schools awarded butts are:
Sarum St Paul's Primary School Salisbury
Westbury Infant School
Holt Primary School Trowbridge
Minety Primary School
Walwayne Court School Trowbridge
Princecroft Primary School Warminster
Churchfields The Village School, Atworth
The Trafalgar School at Downton
St Joseph's Catholic School Salisbury
St John's School and Community College Marlborough
Shalbourne Primary School
Salisbury High School
Pictured: Shalbourne pupils take their watering seriously