Schools across Somerset are urged to put their hands up for the first ever Somerset Waste Partnership eco-school grants.

As part of its commitment to encouraging waste reduction, reuse and recycling, the paretnership (SWP) is offering grants of £500 to up to 50 schools to help them participate in the Eco Schools Programme.

Eco-Schools is an international initiative operating in 68 countries. It gives schools a structured approach to engaging and empowering pupils and teachers in projects and initiatives that help protect the environment.

The SWP grants are open to primary and secondary schools and the application process is open from now until the end of May.

The grants can be used for all kinds of projects and initiatives, the only proviso being that schools choose ‘waste’ as one of its topics on the way through seven steps to Green Flag status.

Cllr Sarah Dyke,Somerset Waste Board chairman, said: “Many young people are passionate about the environment and the Eco-Schools programme is a brilliant way of building on that and making a real difference.

“Pupils set the agenda and take responsibility for improving and protecting their environment, getting a fantastic grounding in environmental issues and developing good habits.

“We hope that these grants inspire more Somerset schools to get involved.”

There are around 200 Somerset schools involved in eco-schools, including Milverton Primary which has been a Green Flag eco-school for more than a decade.

As well as taking part in national events like the Big Switch off (energy reduction) and the Big Pedal (sustainable travel), it has run countless projects and initiatives linked to the scheme.

From wildlife surveys and foot-print tracking to recycled art and building habitats for newts and lizards – being an eco-school has helped make environmental awareness and action part of the daily routine.

Parents get involved and children are encouraged to practise at home the green skills they have learnt at school.

Stephen Penny, Milverton School’s new eco-schools lead, said: “Being an eco-school has definitely had a positive impact on the children and their respect for the world around them.

“It’s designed to be led by the children and they love the responsibility and opportunity to decide what happens. Every child and every member of staff can play a part and you have staff and children learning new things together.”

SWP’s Eco-School grants are available to any school receiving its waste services from the partnership. An application form can be downloaded from

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