January 2024 Update
Keen to learn from our young people, to give them a voice and an opportunity to help shape the future of our Trust, last year we set up our Red Kite Youth Board. This board comprises two representatives from each of our schools, with a Chair and Vice Chair for Primaries and a Chair and Vice Chair for Secondaries.
Ideas and views are shared with the Trustees and Leaders in our Trust, influencing what we do and how we work together as a community.
This term saw the sixth Youth Board meeting, with the Chair of Red Kite Learning Trust, Mr Chris Tulley, and Trust CEO, Mr Richard Sheriff in attendance.
Appointment of Youth Board Chairs
Mr Tulley introduced himself as Chair of Red Kite Learning Trust and explained what this role entails. He then talked about the role of Chairs and Vice Chairs for our Youth Board.
He explained that all Youth Board representatives need to liaise with their peers to help shape the agenda for these meetings, and for all to have a voice. He stressed the importance of taking notes in meetings to ensure views and action points are fed back to their school and our Trust Board.
Mr Sheriff then talked through the election process for Youth Board Chairs. Blake and Danica will continue as Secondary and Primary Chairs, but two Vice-Chairs are also needed. It was agreed that Nina Emmines from Temple Moor High School would take on the role of Vice Chair for Secondaries, and an election will take place for the Vice Chair of Primaries.
The Chairs and Vice Chairs will work closely with Mr Sheriff to ensure agenda items are very much led by Youth Board members empowering our young people to have a voice and real influence.
Rewilding of School Grounds
This term, our Youth Board welcomed Dr Jenny Marks to the meeting. Dr Marks is a plant scientist who studied plant science and zoology, looking at the genetics of plants and how they resist disease. Dr Marks worked for the Wildlife Trust as an ecologist before joining the charity, Yorkshire Rewilding Network.
Dr Marks talked about the importance of rewilding projects, referring to Knepp Estate in West Sussex, where land originally farmed for crops had been successfully rewilded.
School grounds in England cover a massive area of land, circa 30 times the size of Harrogate and 5 times the size of Leeds, and it could be better managed to the benefit of healthy soils, biodiveristy, and ultimately our climate. Dr Marks talked about a number of initiatives that schools could learn from in order to make a difference. If each of the 24,413 schools across the country did just one small thing it would make a huge impact on our wildlife. You can learn more about rewilding here.
With 14 schools in our Trust, we have a great opportunity to make a significant difference to the biodiversity of our local areas and we were delighted to welcome Dr Marks to help advise us.
By leaving some of our grassland and hedges uncut allowing grasses to flower and encouraging pollinating insects we can provide food and shelter for birds and other small wild animals, including bees, butterflies, larger nesting birds, spiders, frogs, hedgehogs, worms and more. Even our schools with limited grass areas and hedgerows can get involved, planting up vertical/climbing containers and making container ponds.
Dr Marks told the Youth Board that the Royal Horticultural Society and National History Museum have launched the National Education Adventure Park initiative and that three of our schools (Rossett, Rossett Acre and Harrogate Grammar) will be piloting the scheme, with a view to roll this out across our Trust. Pupils from these schools will help make decisions about how to adapt their school grounds as part of this project.
All our schools are encouraged to get involved with rewilding and our Youth Board members were asked to find out about any current initiatives and opportunities in their own schools. Advice on how best to go about this was provided and we look forward to hearing about them in future meetings as our representatives share knowledge and work together to make positive changes to how we manage our land.
Ms Shuttleworth joined the meeting to provide an update on the sustainability projects that have been implemented across our schools, which include:
- Solar panels at 13 of our 14 schools
- LED lighting installed in all our schools
- Recycling introduced in all schools
- Trust -wide initiatives to reduce energy usage
- Setting up Energy Sparks accounts for all schools.
Energy Sparks is an online, school-specific energy analysis tool and energy education programme. The portal can be used by staff and pupils to make a difference to the carbon footprint of their school through targeted initiatives. More details are provided in this video.
All schools in our Trust are encouraged to set up an Eco Council, if they have not already done so. The intention of these Eco Councils will be to ensure that every school is making consistent steps to becoming more and more sustainable. Over the next few months, our Trust will also be launching the “Red Kite Learning Trust Sustainability Charter”. This charter will contain a long list of different things that schools can do to become more sustainable. Each of these activities will have a score allocated to it. We will then ask the Eco Councils to mark how well their school is doing on a termly basis so we can monitor and celebrate progress.
A pupil led Agenda
During a very tasty lunch provided by Rossett School’s catering team, our young representatives were asked to think about and propose items they would like to see on future agendas for our Youth Board meetings. These suggestions and ideas will help Nina chair the next meeting.
Event suggestions included:
- Sports event(s) – ‘Red Kite Olympics’
- Music – choir competition
- STEM competition
- Talent show
- Battle of books
- Poetry slam
- Baking competition
Other agenda items included:
- Teacher appreciation
- Attendance rewards
- Community events
- Student newsletter
Attendance remains an important item on our agenda and we recognise the importance of involving our young people in how we promote good attendance and overcome barriers to attending school.
Attendance will be included in the agenda for our next Youth Board meeting and we ask anyone with suggestions and ideas to speak to their school’s Youth Board Representative.
Our next Youth Board meeting will be held on Monday 11th March.