29 April, 2020
Ormiston Chadwick Academy has been taking part in the #iwill campaign, encouraging their students to take the lead in social action and pay special attention to the impact their academy and wider communities are having on their environment.
At the start of the campaign they decided to address ecological issues through their #iwill project and aimed to make a positive and lasting impact. Investigating the effect their school was having on their surrounding environment, they found that the use of paper was most concerning. Calculating how much paper was used and wasted over the previous five years, they set their target of replenishing by replanting.
Chadwick’s #iwill team spent time researching and worked out they needed to plant a significant number of trees to achieve their objective, 250 to be exact! Tutor of Beauty and #iwill lead, Sarah Martindale approached the Woodland Trust enquiring if they could make a small donation towards their ambitious project. Hearing about Chadwick’s target, the Woodland Trust were inspired, not just to make a small donation, but to provide them with everything they needed to grow the project.
The #iwill students involved knew it was important that everyone in their school should know about the project, understand why they were planting a vast number of trees and educate them on important ecological issues. In February, the students planned and presented assemblies to each year group. And with the saplings to be delivered early March, two planting dates were set towards the end of the month.
However, with the onset of Covid-19 and school closures imminent, plans had to be quickly revised. With the saplings delivered as planned, Ms Martindale was conscious of two particular issues. The student’s disappointment at not being able to take part in the planting stage and with no date set for schools to reopen, the saplings were sure to perish if they had to delay.
With only a few days until the Government closure of schools the #iwill team took a day off timetable to attempt to complete the humongous task. Ms Martindale commented,
The principal was completely behind us continuing with our social action and I was determined to show the world that we can still unite and do our bit to save our ever-changing planet.
Graced with good weather the team of students and staff successfully planted 150 of their 250 trees in three hours. Keeping in mind the advice they received from the Woodland Trust, they set about using the skills they’d learnt. They mapped out the site and identified the areas to plant the different types of trees, and which areas to avoid. The whole team worked enthusiastically and in Ms Martindale’s words, “they smashed it!”
Across the UK students and school staff were instructed to ‘homeschool’ and follow the Government’s rule of social distancing. Chadwick’s #iwill students could be assured they would return to 150 flourishing saplings. However, Ms Martindale was aware of the other 100 saplings in storage, that were bound to perish without some quick thinking.
Not wanting that fate, Ms Martindale and her helpful husband came to the saplings’ rescue. The green-fingered pair ventured back into Chadwick and spent a final day planting, in their own time. This not only shows the dedication of the students, but also how important social action has become to OAT staff. Truly inspirational!
The students and staff have found their project to be extremely rewarding and motivating. At this time, Covid-19 has suspended #iwill projects and has changed the way our schools operate. Nevertheless, this pandemic will not change the positive impact Chadwick has made on the environment and the legacy they have planted.
In 2018, Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) secured £2 million of funding from the #iwill fund and national charity Ormiston Trust. Across our network of over 30,000 pupils, the OAT network of schools will use the funding to support the aims of the pioneering #iwill campaign in making meaningful social action a regular part of life for young people, allowing them to develop key new social, emotional and life skills learning (SELS).