FOURTEEN schools across Cheshire are taking on an year-long eco-challenge to become greener, leaner and cleaner for 2009.
The schools are teaming up with water giant United Utilities and environmental charity Groundwork, to make the grade in the Eco-Schools Award Scheme - an internationally-recognised programme for green-thinking schools.
Experts from United Utilities and Groundwork will be acting as mentors for each school, to help pupils and staff make a difference in a variety of ways - from saving energy, reducing waste and cutting bills to developing school grounds.
Schools taking up the challenge span primary, secondary and special needs.
They are: Mossley Primary, Congleton; Havannah Primary, Congleton; Black Firs Primary, Congleton; Buglawton Primary, Congleton;
Astbury St Mary's Primary, Congleton; Eaton Bank High, Congleton; Middlewich High; St Mary's Primary, Middlewich; Springfield Special School, Crewe; Dorin Park Special School, Chester; The Russet School, Northwich; Hinderton School, Ellesmere Port; Park Lane School, Macclesfield and Oaklands School in Winsford.
Funding for the £40,000 project has come from United Futures - a major community regeneration scheme run by United Utilities and Groundwork - plus other funders, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, via the Mersey Forest.
Sharon King from United Utilities said: “We are really looking forward to helping schools across Cheshire become even greener in 2009.
“We'll be providing advice and support for students and teachers, as well as launching some fantastic environmental improvement projects for school grounds.
“We hope that at the end of the programme, all 14 schools will be well on the way to achieving an Eco-Schools Award, and feel inspired to keep on thinking and acting green.”
Peter Bulmer, policy and information manager for Cheshire County Council, said: “Making small environmental changes within a school can have a big impact. Simple measures such as energy saving lightbulbs, water 'hippos' for toilets and extra recycling bins can really reduce energy consumption, and save schools thousands of pounds each year.
“We're delighted that United Utilities and Groundwork have agreed to mentor our schools. I know that the students are very excited about the projects that lie ahead.”
The Eco-Schools scheme allows schools to work towards gaining one of three awards - Bronze, Silver, and the prestigious Green Flag award. The scheme is run in 46 countries, linking more than 40,000 schools, from the UK to France, and Morocco to South Africa.
Pauline Manclark from Groundwork in Cheshire said: “Some participating schools in Cheshire have already progressed a long way with the the Eco-Schools scheme, and will be going for the top award in 2009, while others will be just starting out.
“Whatever the level experience, we will be providing tailored support to help each school achieve its goals.”