School life: Rastrick High’s Big Switch Off to save energy

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Would you leave your lights on all day, even when you are out of the house? Would you keep your TV on, even when you are at work or in school?

At Rastrick High School, the Year 7 Student Leaders have been leading a whole-school project called “The Big Switch Off”. The project is part of EDF Energy’s environmental education programme, ‘The Pod’ which was launched in 2008 in a bid to meet their sustainability commitment of teaching 2.5 million children about the sustainable use of energy. The Pod has engaged with over 10 million children through almost 18,000 registered schools. The programme has three main aims:

To inspire young people and their families to choose a more sustainable lifestyle. To understand that a low carbon, secure and affordable energy supply is vital for the future. To promote STEM in schools and encourage science and engineering as a career choice

Our aim is to save 10% of the school’s electricity usage and therefore lower our annual bill, so we have spent the last two weeks monitoring the school’s electricity use and leading on a campaign to ensure teachers are more energy-conscious. Interviewing our finance and facilities managers at school, we discovered just how much we spend on electricity each year, and learned about some simple changes including switching off lights, PC’s and unused projectors in empty classrooms. This means we not only save a lot of money, but also help the climate. Reducing our demand for energy is the cheapest and easiest way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. It has been estimated that with widespread action across the world, we could reduce our electricity demand by a fifth by 2050.

We launched our campaign by presenting our project in the staff briefing to persuade teachers to get on board with our project. We then presented our ideas in every assembly to promote the project as a whole-school initiative from Year 7 right through to Sixth Form.

How will this affect our school? The money we save could then be spent in ways that are more creative, not just on electricity! We want to improve our resources in school, whether it is on more ICT facilities, books or even a new menu in the canteen. One of our main aims is to save enough money to purchase a new pod (an outdoor food hut) so that we can reduce the queuing times at lunchtime. Essentially, saving money on electricity means that we can invest in more productive, useful resources!

If the figures show that we have saved money over the last two weeks, by simply switching lights, PC’s and projectors off, we will be leading the campaign to turn ‘The Big Switch Off’ into a whole-school initiative so that we can further invest in better resources for our school.

Year 7 Achievement Leader, Jess Dawson said: “I am very proud of the achievements and hard work from our Year 7 Student Leaders. They are campaigning for change over the things that not only have a direct effect on their generation, but to make Rastrick High School a more energy-conscious environment.”