Green team

Sixth Form students from across the GDST’s family of schools gathered together in London for the first ever EcoSoc.

eco socGirls from across the GDST girls want to make a difference and are coming together to effect real environmental change.

That’s the message from the first meeting of the new GDST environmental society. The EcoSoc, made up of Sixth Form students from across the family of GDST schools, met to discuss issues such as climate change, single-use plastics, pollution and vegetarianism.

Many of the girls say they experience ‘eco-anxiety’ – deeply concerned and outraged about the state of the planet but feeling powerless and overwhelmed by the scale of the challenges the world faces. They admire Greta Thunberg and see her as a powerful and positive role model.

At the inaugural EcoSoc meeting, the girls talked about environmental measures in their schools and how further action is needed. For example, the need to move away from single-use plastic to embracing a circular economy. The need to improve air quality and encourage bio-diversity both inside and outside their schools. The need to reduce the amount of meat in school meals. And making the link to climate change across the school – in all assemblies, subjects and lessons – as well as the wider school community of teachers and parents.

The girls were joined by Henry Greenwood, founder and managing director of The Green Schools Project, which helps schools set up fun and engaging environmental programmes, and Sarra Pardali, the GDST’s Head of Infrastructure and Sustainability. Discussions ranged over themes such as energy, travel, consumption and activism, and how the students could promote environmentally friendly policies within the GDST, such as switching to a green energy supplier. They also raised challenging questions, such as how eco-friendly the GDST’s investment portfolio is.

Cathy Walter, Assistant Director of Education at the GDST, said: “We brought our students together for two reasons. One, because the GDST is focusing on environmental issues and policy change and that needs to involve student voices. Two, cross-school societies are part of our distinctive offer for Sixth Formers. This is one of the first but with the launch soon of a new interactive portal for all Sixth Formers, we are hoping for many more student-led societies. The GDST is an amazing network of schools. Our girls are one of a kind, but part of a family. This is something one school couldn’t achieve by itself.”