Green machine cleans up with award

Blakehurst High School students

Raquel Spratt believes being green is its own reward.

However national environmental movement, Clean Up Australia had other ideas heaping recognition on the Blakehurst High School teacher through its Green Teacher award.

Clean Up Australia founder Ian Kiernan announced the new award in 2009 to recognise the efforts of teachers around Australia whose projects not only influence their students and their school, but also the wider community.

Ms Spratt, a Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE) teacher, ticked all the boxes to win the 2011 NSW Green Teacher award "by leading students on a blitz on excess energy and water consumption".

Ms Spratt and her students started the year by conducting a full audit of Blakehurst High School's existing energy and water consumption.

Once they had a benchmark of the school's environmental footprint, they established an Environmental Team, which ran as a subsidiary of the representative council and met weekly.

"Students pose their projects and vote democratically, and I act as a facilitator and give direction and guidance. We also have a very committed principal who listens, encourages and understands what we are trying to achieve," said Ms Spratt.

"It is also very inspiring to see the senior students act as role models to the juniors by allowing them to get involved and work collaboratively."

To keep the wider school community informed, the Environmental Team's activities and aims were promoted through the school newsletter, website and at assemblies.

Ms Spratt's efforts with her students led to practical changes at Blakehurst High School, including the installation of solar panels, spring-loaded taps and dual-flush toilets.

 Bubblers and re-usable water bottles were also introduced to reduce reliance on bottled water. The school was also trialling recycling and compost bins.

The 2011 Green Teacher award recognised Ms Spratt's leadership had led to some very impressive measures to reduce Blakehurst High School's environmental footprint.

For Ms Spratt, the benefits to the students of "being green" were as impressive as those the school had reaped.

"I hope that students in other schools can experience the empowerment that school-wide environmental projects can bring. It's worth it on every level," said Ms Spratt.

Photo: courtesy of the Blakehurst High School environmental team.

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