Tidy Towns win puts small school on national stage

Belltrees Public School is a finalist in the national awards.

A teacher and a student holding up awards A teacher and a student holding up awards
Image: Belltrees Public principal Shane Roberts and Year 3 student Ruby Foster with the three awards the school won at the Keep Australia Beautiful 2022 NSW Sustainable Communities-Tidy Town Awards.

Tiny Belltrees Public School in the state’s Upper Hunter region is set to showcase its environmental sustainability credentials on the national stage.

The school was recently named the winner of the Community Engagement category at the Keep Australia Beautiful 2022 NSW Sustainable Communities-Tidy Town Awards.

Belltrees Public also received Highly Commended recognition in the Waterways and Marine Protection and Young Legends categories.

The school’s success played a key role in Scone being named the overall winner at the awards.

Keep Australia Beautiful CEO, Val Southam, said Scone had an inspiring ability to overcome challenges and motivate the community to work towards a better future.

She was particularly impressed by the submissions from Belltrees Public, singling out the school and its students for special mention.

Teaching principal Shane Roberts said he would now travel to remote King Island, in Bass Strait, to represent the school at the national Tidy Town awards in May.

“It’s really great recognition for the work we’ve done at the school and the support we’ve had from the wider Scone community,” Mr Roberts said.

“We certainly wouldn’t be where we are without their support.”

As part of an ongoing push to become a more environmentally sustainable school, Belltrees Public has partnered with landowners to learn more about sustainable farming practices.

It also hosted several field days to educate other schools on environmental strategies.

“There’s a real focus on regenerative agriculture at the school,” Mr Roberts said.

“We’ve introduced excursions where we visit farms to learn more about sustainable practices or invite farmers to our school to talk with students about what they’re doing on their properties.”

Mr Roberts said he was hopeful the school could bring home at least one award from King Island.

“I think we’re a really good shot in the Young Legends category. That’s the one we’ll be going hard at,” he said.

“The Community Engagement category is intriguing as well. There’s an education focus to the award, but it could come down to the project that’s had the biggest impact.”

Mr Roberts said, outside of the awards, the school was looking to achieve net zero in energy sustainability by June 2023.

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