News and Events

Regional events help Build Student Empowerment

December 4, 2020

This year, despite some challenges, the Enviroschools Marlborough team have working with teachers and students to help with learning and action around the environment


Empowering teachers event.

A day long workshop at Blenheim School hall was run with 30 participants – mostly primary and kindergarten teachers, as well as our Enviroschools facilitators. Extra funding allocated from Toimata Foundation allowed us to engage our guest expert Bek Galloway and provide lunch and teacher release time for 26 teachers.

Bek shared her expertise of how to grow empowered learners, using great examples that teachers could use with their Envirogroups and in their class programmes. She talked about student agency and showed ways that teachers and facilitators could build activities into their programmes including purpose, perspectives and participation.

In the afternoon session of the workshop, our facilitation team led some experiential activities from the Enviroschools Energy theme area. As a follow up we asked teachers to provide us with ideas of what they might want in an energy kit to help them deliver them to students. (Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many teachers had to change their planned inquiry topics with their move to an online learning platform, so most did not deliver the energy lessons). The plan is to equip schools with these kits “ready to use” for engaging their students in the concepts of Energy! (in 2021).

The following day, 60 students took part in a workshop that focused on delivering three interactive skills hubs – again led by guest expert Bek Galloway. Our Enviroschools Marlborough facilitation team also ran some leadership activities. Funding support from Toimata was again used for our guest as well as release time for 15 teachers and 60 wax wraps as a thank you and a challenge to the students that took part. (These wax wraps were made by the whānau at Redwoodtown Kindergarten).

The afternoon session focused on the skills students needed to help lead their Envirogroup into taking action for 2020 and how to decide on what purposeful action could look like. Great feedback was received from the students and we were excited to see what the outcome of their actions would be. Some of these actions have included running a week-long waste focus – Richmond View School. Peer sharing and guidance on running of a pest trapping programme- Waikawa Bay School to Renwick School. Creating a Green Gold Walk- Fairhall School and setting in place some clear visions to help in taking next steps- Witherlea and Rapaura Schools. Each of these actions have been shared in our Green chat newsletters. Since these workshops we have been working with Enviro-groups in our region.


Witherlea School map

Witherlea School’s ‘Green Ninjas’ have been meeting each week to record current sustainability initiatives in the school, and to create a map of where these things are happening. They are now exploring how they can gather ideas from the rest of the students, staff, whānau and the wider school community to develop a whole school vision for enviro at Witherlea. They are practicing some fun activities to help everyone think about how they would like their school to be, and they hope to share these with teachers at a staff meeting next term.


Fairhall students planning their Green Gold walkway.

Fairhall School’s Enviro-council has been looking at ways to create a Green Gold walk in their school to share lots of the different actions they take to look after the environment. Their Enviro-council came up with some plans following the Action Learning Cycle planner and have been doing some leadership activities on how to include the Enviroschools guiding principles in their next steps with the wider school.


Rapaura School’s Enviro-group are also starting on their journey to write an Enviroschools vision statement. For the plan to reflect the voice of the whole school, the Enviro-group wanted all the teachers on board and decided to present their ideas of how this could be done at a staff meeting. A great example of ‘Empowered Students’ in action! Leading up to the staff meeting they chose and practiced some activities teachers could use with their classes to find out what they thought about their school environment. One of these was the ‘Word Hunt’ activity from the Me in My Environment resource, which helps children to recognise and describe the variety and diversity in their environment.


Learning about the impact of plastic being ingested by fish.

Whitney Street School students who came to the Empowered students workshop got really interested in waste. After their class (Room 12) did a guided visit to the Resource Recovery Centre, became concerned about ocean waste so did an inquiry on this and then made their own wax wraps to cut down on plastic in their lunchboxes.  What a great example of students taking the lead in classroom learning and taking action as a result of their new understanding!


On behalf of our Enviroschools facilitators we are grateful for this significant additional funding that has enabled us to grow the depth of Enviroschools practise in our region. Although we have needed to reschedule some events and actions until 2021 we are excited about the opportunities this will bring to us as facilitators and to the teachers and students in the Marlborough region.


Learning about the impact of plastics in the ocean and considering actions that could be taken.

Creating wax wraps to reduce plastic use in lunch boxes.