Sustainable Schools Grants
Sustainable Schools Grants empower students and schools to make their learning environments more sustainable.
The Sustainable Schools Grants:
- are part of a 4-year, $10 million program
- give schools the opportunity to develop innovative projects
- take real steps to enhance the sustainability of their school environment.
The program offers all NSW public schools and preschools up to $15,000 for student-led initiatives that improve the environment at schools. To date, the program has supported over 600 schools to develop hands-on sustainability learning activities that will benefit the environment by helping to save energy or water, reduce waste, or improve biodiversity.
Learn about our Sustainable Schools Grants (0:55)
Do you have an innovative way to improve sustainability in your school or preschool? We want to hear from you.
School Infrastructure in New South Wales is awarding funding of up to $15,000 for hands-on sustainability projects that benefit the environment by helping to save energy or water, reduce waste, or improve biodiversity.
Just like these grant recipients, [Lyndhurst Public School (waste-free lunches), Burwood Girl's High School (waste audit), Krambach Public School (sensory garden and bee homes), Whitton Murrami Public School (water quality investigation), Delungra Public School (koala rescue program)] your school could find innovative ways to reduce and recycle waste, create indigenous bush gardens or set up water recycling and storage systems. You might even create bee highways or work towards habitat regeneration for native animals. The possibilities are endless.
So if you've got a sustainable project idea you want to make a reality, what are you waiting for? Find out more and apply today.
[For more information visit schoolinfrastructure.nsw.gov.au]
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Sustainable Schools Grants recipients
Previous Sustainable Schools Grants projects
Glenroi Heights Public School
Glenroi Heights Public School was on a mission to reduce waste, increase environmental awareness and revitalise their kitchen gardens to survive the drought.
The school’s holistic waste reduction initiatives involved implementing the following actions:
- installing new bins to collect multiple waste streams in classrooms and the playground.
- adding a waste-sorting activity into the 'busy bees' playground program where passionate students from K-6 help do jobs around the school each lunchtime.
- emptying organic waste into worm farms and compost tumblers for the school's vegetable gardens.
- sending soft plastic waste to a RedCycle location and paper and shredding cardboard to mulch the school's gardens.
- holding beeswax wrap-making workshops to encourage plastic-free lunch box alternatives.
The school's garden upgrade involved a range of student-led activities such as:
- redesigning existing garden beds
- planting fruit and vegetable seeds in mini-greenhouses
- using 2 water tanks to collect runoff from the school roof
- planting 24 native plants and bushes with additional pots and planters with flowers to attract native bees and butterflies (after careful research)
- using the school's 'busy bees' program to weed and water gardens.
Relieving Assistant Principal Jessica McAlister said the grant 'has encouraged teachers and students to start conversations about sustainability ... students have developed informed attitudes about caring for our planet and know what actions they can take to work towards a greener future.'
Erskine Park High School
Learn about Erskine Park High School's waste audit (3:24).
[Text on screen – Erskine Park High School 45 kilometres west of the Sydney CBD. Current enrolments 1011]
[Text on screen – Ground zero for the war on school waste.
Video – Sped up time lapse of people working with garbage bins, tarps and plastic bins set up around a covered outdoor learning area.]
[And HQ of the planet protectors – a cip of students walking in wearing protective gear including overalls, gloves and protective glasses. Their names are Sarah, Lara, Alex, Zoe, Sarah, Ali, Hamdan, Kirk, Abdullah, Joey and Bailey]
The idea of planet protectors is to reduce the waste that comes from the school and to get rid of it in the right way.
[Students start placing the waste on the ground in the covered outdoor area.]
[Today is D-Day for the planet protectors who are undertaking the first ever waste audit at Erskine Park High School – Nat (Acting school principal) is talking to the planet protectors]
[Waste minimisation measures in place at Erskine Park High School include:
- Return and earn bottle and cans program
- Ersko cleanup card – reward card system
- Recycling bins in the playground area
- Green waste to compost for school gardens (image of ducks among trees)
- Food scraps for animals on school farm (image of hens).]
Nat Doidge (Acting School Principal)
Now we've already made lots of progress down this track, certainly separating the bottles and the glass. As a consequence of that, taking that return and earn, we've managed to replace plastic straws in our cafeteria, our cafe, with paper straws.
[Text on screen – Return and Earn introduced in early 2019. The school produces 39,000 empty containers annually worth $3,900 if all are returned.]
Separating out our green waste means that the compost that we're producing down on the farm now has green waste from the playground and that's being used in our gardens. And certainly, our waste from the kitchens is also being used to feed the chickens and the ducks and things down there. So, we've already made huge changes within our school.
[Clip of chickens strutting in the school’s coop. A gloved hand tosses fruit and bread scraps. Text on screen – The NSW Department of Education is responsible for over 250 schools that have agriculture plots.]
What's happening today is we are going to do some waste sorting; we're going to find out exactly what ours’ looks like.
[Image of labels being added to bins and close-up of some of the waste including paper cups and plastic.]
To start with, we'll sort into those categories. So, plastics, glass, metals, paper, food, and all those ones, anything else, we're going to put into the tubs stick on that blue tarp over there.
[Sped up time-lapse clip of students sorting the waste.]
[Text on-screen – Students are sorting 2,400 litres of rubbish that has been collected in one and a half days at the school.]
[Rubbish is sorted into categories:
- paper and cardboard
- garden organics
[Efficient sorting minimises waste that goes to landfill.]
It's just crazy how much rubbish just comes out of this school and most of it goes to landfill. So, that's crazy.
I joined Planet Protectors last year when the group started. I saw a lot of posters advertising things about how wildlife were losing their habitats due to waste, how much waste was going to the ocean. So, I joined so that I would make a difference.
We're learning that different things can be recycled, and we should be more aware.
You don't realise how much of this there is because one person only needs three, four pieces of rubbish and it all comes together to make this.
[Erskine Park High School produces 23kg of food waste per day.]
The biggest surprise to me was the amount of food waste because people that are less fortunate don't get enough food. And from other people who are more fortunate, and lucky, for them to waste it, I find it disgusting.
[Video of students sorting the last of the waste]
[Text on screen – With sorting complete, individual categories of rubbish are weighed and recorded. At audit completion after 2 hours of sorting 2,400 litres of waste this (one tub) is the only waste that cannot be recycled and will go to landfill. 180 litres – 13% of the total amount of rubbish – will go to landfill and the majority of this is used coffee cups.]
[Text on screen – Audit results also indicated that on average each student generates 20kg of waste per year, and 12kg of this is potentially recyclable, 4.5 kg of waste could be reuced/avoided.]
I think many schools around New South Wales should get involved because, with all of us combined, we can make one big difference and change the world. And we can save the planet one wrapper at a time.
[And the next planet protectors project? Spread the learnings from the waste audit to all students at the school... as well as joining Erskine Park High School up to a coffee cup recycling program.]
[Music fades out.]
[End of transcript.]
Orange High School
Amid a drought with water at a premium, a water recycling project at Orange High School reduced water use and taught students the importance of environmental management.
The project involved installing a water recycling system to collect and treat the school's bathroom grey water (wastewater from non-toilet plumbing). The compact membrane bioreactor system collects and treats the grey water to be reused as clean water for toilet flushing, significantly reducing the school's water use.
Ongoing teaching opportunities include students comparing current water use with previous years' water usage. Chemistry and physics students undertake water testing and analysis of water quality as water enters the system and again when it enters the toilet cistern after being treated. Construction students assisted the contractors in installing the water recycling system, giving them real-life, hands-on experience.
Teachers remarked on the learning opportunities the project created, 'Practical studies are often the best (way) to ingrain educational practices,' said one teacher.
The recycled water activity also now links to an aquaculture project to establish a sustainability learning hub.
To continue Orange High School's sustainability journey, the school has joined the ClimateClever initiative Low Carbon Schools Program.
Georges River Environmental Education Centre
At Georges River EEC, a model pollinator garden offers a memorable day for students and teachers who attend a day of learning at Georges River Education Centre.
The garden is pivotal in highlighting the importance of pollinators and includes a hive of native stingless bees, an understory of shrubs, and a birds and bees (B and B) garden walkway.
Students use the one-day learning program to understand what pollinators look like, and study plants and their relationship with them. Ultimately, they increase their overall knowledge of bees, including how we can all help them (citizen science).
Finally, the most successful element of the program is guiding the individual school on what improvements they can make to better support pollinators into the future. For example, increasing native plantings, providing water sources for animals and installing native beehives.
The program has been implemented in 7 schools already and the knowledge acquired has helped to:
- increase biodiversity of large trees at Riverwood Public School
- convert an old old garden bed into a native shrub grove at Chipping Norton Public School
- plant a large tree and added a water source for small animals at Yanderra Public School
- enhance a garden bed with more native shrubs and groundcover at Liverpool West
- add biodiversity with a new native beehive at East Hills Girls Technology High School
- plant a Vegepod and flowering plants at Bass Hill Public School.