Essex school ‘switches off’ during EDF Energy programme

STEBBING Primary School has joined a record number of schools across Essex that are switching on to switching off.

Switch Off Fortnight has been organised by EDF Energy’s schools programme, The Pod, to encourage schools to reduce their energy consumption. So far, 97 schools in Essex have signed up for the campaign, which runs until December 3.

The number of schools taking part in the county puts Essex as the sixth most involved area across the country, ahead of Hertfordshire and Hampshire, and just behind London and Surrey.

Jo Starrow, a teacher at Stebbing Primary and a member of the school council, said: “A previous teacher ran it here before so I took it up myself and found some information on the internet.

“The school council set up the whole thing and they take it upon themselves to make sure things aren’t left on standby and then name and shame the guilty parties. In some cases schools have been known to save 20 per cent on their energy bills.

“We try to encourage the children to turn things off and make them more aware of green issues but we also want them to take home what they learn.”

Olympic gold-medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton launched the second annual Switch Off Fortnight, visiting award-winning St. Ambrose Primary School in Manchester, currently ranked 7th on The Pod’s online medal table out of more than 10,000 schools across the country for their sustainability efforts.

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She said: “I’m an avid supporter of getting children from a young age thinking about the impact their actions have on the environment. It’s fantastic to see that almost 3000 schools have signed up to Switch Off Fortnight and are taking such an interest in green issues.

“I’m delighted to be launching the campaign and hope that it will inspire other schools, pupils, teachers and parents to get involved with EDF Energy’s schools programme, The Pod.”

The Pod, EDF Energy’s schools programme, together with partner Eco-Schools, is encouraging teachers and pupils to sign up to the initiative, which can help schools cut their energy bills and carbon emissions. Research by Worcestershire County Council found that some schools saw their energy use fall by up to a fifth during the time they carried out Switch Off activities*.

Robyn Broughton, EDF Energy’s schools programme manager, said, “Switch Off Fortnight is a great initiative that raises awareness of energy issues within schools and their local community.

“But this is not a one-off, it’s an initiative that allows children and young adults to truly embrace green issues and make a real difference over time.

“As part of our Sustainability Commitments, EDF Energy aims to engage with 2.5 million school children on green issues by 2012 and Switch Off Fortnight is one of the many activities we’re using to achieve this with schools right across the UK.”