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Recycle Week Case Study: St Helens CoE School, North Devon

This Recycle Week, change is in your hands and our Glass Guardians programme has sparked a number of little acts of activism. We’ll be bringing you an example each day of this week, starting with St Helens school in Devon.


St Helens School is in an enviable spot, just a few minutes’ drive from the beautiful north Devon coast and the expansive beach at Westward Ho! Thanks to this fortunate proximity, St Helens pupils have been able to draw on the beach as inspiration for taking part in Glass Guardians, an initiative from British Glass and the National Schools Partnership created to educate children about the 100% recyclability and sustainability benefits of glass.

“The school focuses on different themes during the course of the year” explains Gemma Fidler, Literacy Lead at the school and Year 2 Teacher. “The first two themes have been about stewardship and social justice and this term it’s all about service. So when we decided to take part in the Glass Guardians project, we started thinking about what service, with the beach in mind, we could provide to the local community and surrounding areas that linked to recycling glass”.

Through class discussion, the children came up with the idea of putting recycling bins in Northam Burrows, a special area of the beach that is rich in natural diversity and a haven for wide range of wildlife. “The children thought by installing recycling bins at the Burrows, this would provide a good service to the community, while helping to reduce litter, protect wildlife and enable more glass to be recycled” says Gemma.

The Glass Guardians resources pack which includes videos, booklets and slides for teachers to structure lessons and activities around, have proved to be a hit both with the children and Gemma. She says “The children were really interested in the topic right away. I think this was because the quality of the materials is so good. They retained lots from the video alone, which in turn provoked questions about the recycling process and how it works”.

What Gemma sees as particularly useful is how the overall level of awareness about glass and its recyclability has been raised through the programme. “We’ve always been pretty good at recycling as a school, but Glass Guardians has helped us go to a new level. Also, the kids are now asking questions about how other countries such as Germany go about recycling and why can’t we in the UK be as good at it as they are”.

Another interesting development is that the children have started to make the connection between what they are learning about glass in the classroom and what they are seeing in their community. “There’s a local farm near the school selling milk in glass bottles from a kiosk and the children noticed this and were keen to talk about it in class” says Gemma.

All this learning about glass will be celebrated by a special beach day on 15th July organised by St Helens, with a link to inner city schools who can share the opportunity to learn more about the activities. The children will take part in a beach clean, hand out leaflets about beach safety and help install the new recycling bins.

“The children are keen to make a video to tell people how to recycle glass and put this on the school website” says Gemma. It’s great to see that St Helens hasn’t just got access to some great beaches – it now has a host of committed young glass recyclers too.