Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 19th October 2023

North West Schools’ £1k OVO Foundation Nature Prize Back For Second Year

Falinge Park High School,
Falinge Park High School,
Students with great green ideas can win £1,000 to create school nature spaces, for the second year running. The OVO Foundation Nature Prize, run in partnership with Let’s Go Zero, is giving away up to £1,000 for schools to launch a community nature project. Winners will bring to life a wild and wonderful space packed with learning opportunities.

Launched last year, the prize supports schools, particularly those in less advantaged areas, to boost students’ access to nature, encourage biodiversity in their school grounds, and kickstart climate action. There are 25 prizes available: 10 prizes of £1,000 and 15 prizes of £200, giving schools plenty of chances to win.
With nearly 200 entries from around the UK last year, ideas ranged from sensory gardens to biodiversity workshops for the local community. Judges were impressed with the huge variety of projects proposed by the schools, and the creative ideas on display.

Hannah Howard, Head of OVO Foundation, said:
"We were so impressed by the creativity of the Nature Prize entries last year, with students and teachers working together to develop new and impactful nature projects for their schools. It has been truly inspiring to see them come to life over the last few months. From creating a habitat for red squirrels to developing allotments for fresh vegetables, each winning idea brings nature into school grounds and kickstarts climate action where it's most needed. We can't wait for round two!"

Since winning the prize money, schools have been busy making their plans come true and engaging with students, families and local communities. Read on to be inspired by some of the fantastic winning projects and how schools are bringing students closer to nature.

Falinge Park High School, Rochdale
£200 OVO Foundation Nature Prize Winner

Students at Falinge Park High School were awarded a £200 OVO Foundation Nature Prize to run nature-based workshops using up-cycled materials for local primary schools and community members. These workshops have given students the chance to share their learning about new and exciting ways to tackle climate change.
The school is focused on developing partnership links with the local community and the workshops have been a key part of this. Although the idea for community and family workshops came from the headteacher, students were in charge of choosing a topic and developing the activity.

Currently, the school is running a big project on moss and how it can help to tackle climate change. As part of researching moss and its different uses, students came up with the idea to make moss terrariums out of upcycled jam jars and moss collected from around the school site. Their hope was to spread the word about moss’s various uses and how it can be used to help the planet through its ability to purify air, absorb rainwater and help soil to take in carbon.

The first workshop was at the ‘Great Science Share’, where a group of students from Falinge Park ran workshops for 8 local primary schools. As well as creating their own terrariums, students were able to get up close and personal with some moss samples with a handheld microscope that was purchased with the OVO Foundation funds. Moss is often viewed as a nuisance, so students want to be part of changing people’s attitudes towards it.

Next, students are planning on running the same workshop again, this time with families, and hope to involve about 70 people. The handheld microscope will also be loaned out to local primary schools, so they can use it to explore nature and biodiversity around their own school sites.

At Falinge Park, students will continue to focus on moss over the next year and will work with a local expert who will help them to grow their own sphagnum moss. Students will then be able to take this moss and plant it in peat bogs, helping to reduce carbon.

The school has also aligned its sustainability focus with that of Rochdale’s council – biodiversity - and is working to improve biodiversity on the school grounds. Students have started to take part in mapping the biodiversity onsite, with nature cameras set up around the grounds, whist a new student nature club will work with a local primary school, sharing tips on how to monitor and encourage wildlife.

For other schools looking to make a start on a sustainability project, Ms Edmondson, science and geography teacher, recommends finding out what your students are interested in, what the strengths of the teachers are, and also what the wider community is doing. Aligning their focus with their local council’s has opened up new funding opportunities for the school as well as the chance to connect with their community in new ways.

“It’s brilliant. Being given the funding to create workshops like that, you spread the word further and then other people get involved, and it's that knock on effect.”
Ms. Edmondson, science and geography teacher