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Funky Dragon

Funky Dragon works with the Welsh Government to represent the views of young people. They have their own special "Sustainable Development and Climate Change team." The team looks at what young people know and encourage good practice.As part of that work they came to Millbank to prepare a report and give special certificates to Green Gang.

Lauren Evans the South Wales Sustainable Development and Climate Change Development Worker, had visited Millbank and produced a littlereport of the children's work. On the 24th February Lauren organised a presentation. Our Assembly Member Mr Mark Drakeford AM came in with Kevin Brennan our MP in Westminster to hand out Funky Dragon certificates to the children in recognition of the work that they have done.

We had a school assembly with the children reminding us about some of the things that they do. They also launched the final version of the 2012 Eco Code which everyone is encouraged to sign to say that they agree. We even got our guests to sign the code!

The children talked about some of the awards and other recognition such as being awarded the Fairtrade School Flag and even manage to get Fairtrade school of the month status. We also gained level 4 of the RHS gardening scheme and we got our Eco Flag. We also have the bronze Bike It school. All this work demonstrating the commitment to sustainability helped us become a UNESCO associated school.

We also do a lot of work on Children's Rights. Article 29 of the UNCRC is an important one in schools, it is often shortened to being "the Right to be the best you can be" and talks about developing a child's talents skills and abilities to their fullest. Well their are lots of skills in gardening, campaigning, science, recycling. It also says "....preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society." which includes taking responsibility and tackling litter and pollution. But Article 29 also specifically mentions that education "must develop respect for the natural environment." -Imagine if for the past 20 years every child in the world really had been taught that!

At the assembly the children mentioned "We have had a compost bin for many years and try and promote composting  by using our Dalek compost bins. We wrote and asked the county Council about Food Waste from School Dinners and was the first school to have food waste collections. We support Cardiff foodbank and recycling food waste but we try and prevent Food waste with our own project.

We encourage everyone to grow their own food and cook it. It's not just a life skill or about science and reading instructions or measuing. Cooking your own food is fun cheaper and healthier (which is reason enough), but it reduces FoodMiles, transport and packaging. We have visited local growers of food and farms.

We have improved our school grounds and squezzed in a small garden and raised growing beds. We have 2 bug hotels and we try to encourage and learn about the wildlife that visits us. We want to encourage gardening especially to cook and eat.  We won the RHS floral wheelbarrow competition in 2010 which was about recycling plastics, in 2009 it was all about bees. We watch chickens and ducks hatch from eggs and grow. We have added a small pond to our garden and are keeping an eye out for our resident frog. We currently have salmon eggs in a fish tank as part of another project. We will watch as they grow then release them into our local river.

We recycle as much as we can at Millbank. We recycle clothes batteries, pens, shoes, fabrics and bags. Ink cartridges and toners. We also recycle paper and reuse envelopes in the office. Of course even better than recycling is reusing and have introduced book swaps for adults and children as well as a toy and seed swap.For many years we have also encouraged a uniform swap so that when children outgrown their uniform other children can get some wear out of it to.

We try and keep parents informed about our work through the school’s website and weekly parent’s newsletters which have eco tips. We also suggested to AMAF schools that they have their own Green Gang and when they heard about all the fun we have and the work that we do they have set one up in Nairobi. They have very different problems to us but they are just as keen.

We regularly go on Litter picks around the school and in our community. We want our school and the surrounding areas to be safe and clean. But rather than just tidy up after other people we analyse the litter we collect and have written to manufactures of the litter.

Being treated in a Fair way is very important to us, and we are very keen supporters of Fairtrade. We try and use Fairtrade products where we can. We have written to many companies asking them if they are Fairtrade and sustainable. We have awarded fairtrade certificates to local shops and businesses in the area to encourage them to keep using Fairtrade.

Every week we check our classrooms to ensure that they are energy efficient. We award certificates to the best class. We try and use rechargable batteries where possible with solar chargers to keep them topped up. Most of the photos we have on this website for the last 10 years were taken using rechargable batteries.

We are a BikeIt school and we take part in walk to school weeks. We hope to encourage all children and their parents to think carefully about saving energy and carbon emissions by not using cars. Last year we all enjoyed the Big Pedal and came 1st in Cardiff West and 4th in all Cardiff our efforts won a cycle stunt team came to visit the school.

As a Right respecting school we think it is really important to listen to children’s ideas (article 12 of the UNCRC) We have acted on many of the suggestions that Millbank pupils have come up with. We are really pleased that Funky Dragon wanted to listen to us and we enjoyed working with Lauren."

The Funky Dragon News item about the event is here

and the page about the project is here.

 

We believe that teaching the children about environment issues not only will make them more responsible citizens but will better enable them to fully engage in the growing environmental industries and important employment opportunities for the future. Whilst a lot of it is added to lessons a great deal is done in the pupils own time. Have a browse through the weekly parents newsletters, there is normally one or two articles a week.

There are lots more, especially on our old website which goes back to 2001, we hope the schools IT service will reinstate one day.

Mark Drakeforda

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Kevin Brennan

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