An education programme trialled by schools across Bath & North East Somerset to teach young people about energy and how to make their schools more energy efficient is being rolled out nationwide.
The Energy Sparks project for primary and secondary school pupils shows pupils, teachers, school management and the wider school community how to save money and benefit the environment.
Due to the success of Energy Sparks in the 17 schools across Bath & North East Somerset that are using the programme, the scheme has secured £500,000 from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to make improvements to the programme and roll it out to schools across the country.
Bath & North East Somerset Council has backed the project, which was developed by Transition Bath, a local charity working to reduce carbon emissions and climate change, in collaboration with Bath: Hacked, a local community interest company whose aim is to promote the use of open data.
Councillor Sarah Warren, joint cabinet member for Climate Emergency, said: “Addressing the climate emergency is an issue that young people really care about and the Energy Sparks programme enables pupils to take real action to reduce their school’s carbon footprint. I’m delighted that young people across Bath & North East Somerset have been the first to benefit from Energy Sparks and would encourage other schools across the country to get on board with this excellent project.”
Warrick Barton, headteacher at Pensford Primary School, said: “The children are motivated by the competitive element as well as the desire to save money and energy. For example, having devised a system to ensure our old electric water heaters are turned off, the children have been able to calculate the resulting savings using the website. They have been really pleased to discover that we could save £600 per year from this change!”
Schools participating in Energy Sparks have been able to demonstrate real energy savings in a short period of time. Pupils at Freshford Church School used Energy Sparks to identify energy wastage of £740 per year from an inefficient freezer. They wrote to school management to recommend a more efficient replacement freezer. The electricity savings paid for the investment within 4 months, and over the 10-year life of the freezer will save the school around £7000.
Alfie Parkin, a year 6 pupil at Freshford Church School, said: “I enjoy the feeling that you are doing your bit to save the planet, and you know you are helping your school.”
Claudia Towner, Energy Sparks Project Manager, said: “Pupils can act as strong advocates for change in schools. Energy Sparks’ educational activities can also provide pupils with skills in understanding energy and greater awareness of its environmental impact. This extends the impact of the programme to their homes and families and can be applied in their future lives.”
The Energy Sparks website can be found at https://energysparks.uk
For more information on Bath & North East Somerset Council’s sustainability initiatives, go to https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/environment/sustainability