Environmental champions nominated

Castlemaine Steiner School and Kindergarten students Agnes Jennings and Caromy Bloom are pictured with some of their nesting boxes.

Four local schools, Castlemaine Steiner School and Kindergarten, Winters Flat Primary School, Chewton Primary School and Newham Primary School, have been nominated as finalists in Sustainability Victoria’s 2024 ResourceSmart Schools Awards.

Castlemaine Steiner School and Kindergarten, winner of the Campus Infrastructure and Operations School of the Year in 2023, is vying for the title of ‘Student Action Team of the Year (Primary)’.

After attending last year’s awards, five students launched the school’s Eco Club. Now with 20 members, the club is running a number of sustainability projects including collecting plastic lids for Lids4Kids, building and installing nesting boxes on campus, bird watching using a repurposed bird hide and the Wetland Project, which encourages stewardship and wildlife data collection.

Chewton Primary School, winner of Curriculum Leadership School of the Year (Primary) last year, is a finalist in the category of ‘ResourceSmart School of the Year’.

This three-star school practises rich engagement with First Nations’ knowledge and practice working with local Elders and a local Indigenous organisation – Nalderun. It’s award-nominated Reconciliation Action Plan reflects a strong community bond, fuelled by conscious student action, while weekly sustainability classes include Connection to Country’s workshops on biodiversity.

Winters Flat Primary School, a winner in 2022 in the category of Community Leadership for its work in bringing attention to the issue of fruit stickers, is this year a finalist in the ‘Campus Infrastructure’ category.

The students of this five-star school and former ‘ResourceSmart School of the Year’ winner have helped design and build a sensory garden using local and recycled materials, and now manage its maintenance. The garden aligns with the school’s Care for Environment focus, promoting wellbeing, stewardship, while providing an interactive space for students and the wider community to enjoy.

Newham Primary School has also been nominated in the ‘ResourceSmart School of the Year’ category.

This five-star school is a local hub for sustainability in schools’ action.

The school hosts Teacher Environment Network meetings and contributed to the Department of Education’s Sustainability in Schools Policy. By joining the Container Deposit Scheme and implementing a smart bin system, the surrounding community decreased its landfill waste.

The school campus features a wetland and biodiversity outdoor learning area, making for a rich learning environment for this small school of 53 motivated students.

“These schools are not only making a difference now but they’re leaving a legacy for the next generation through their sustainability endeavours,” said Katie Pahlow, Sustainability Victoria.

This year’s award winners will be announced at a ceremony held at the MCG on June 4.

Newham Primary School’s George Wiseman, Libby Fullard, Bea Spielvogel, Annie Tolfree and Charlie Thompson.