IT was full speed ahead yesterday for a school’s clean green drive.
The brakes were released to send a 12-metre wind turbine spinning in the grounds of Amberley Primary School in East Bailey, Killingworth.
It was another stage in an ambitious eco-project for Amberley, which becomes the first school in North Tyneside to draw power from a turbine.
Funding for the £40,000 wind turbine included £10,000 from The Co-operative, £14,000 from the Government’s Low Carbon Building Programme and £7,000 from the Local Environmental Action Fund (LEAF) at the Newcastle-based Community Foundation.
Pupil Thomas Finch, aged nine, performed the big switch-on after his name was drawn from the hat, while youngsters at the 330-pupil school held seaside-style windmills.
“It was an absolutely fabulous occasion. A lot of parents stayed to watch and all the children were waving their windmills,” said head teacher Alice Barkes.
“The sun came out and right on cue a magical gust of wind started the turbine spinning. It is part of a longer-term environmental project at the school. The whole eco-project underpins our curriculum.”
The pupils can use the eco-data and activities across a range of subjects.
The school already generates power from solar roof panels. A monitoring panel in the school’s front entrance shows how much power is being generated by solar and wind sources and the savings in carbon emissions.
Others schools in North Tyneside will be able to tap into the data.
The pupils also grow vegetables in their garden in the grounds, which are used in school meals, and run a recycling scheme.
The next phase of the project will see rain water captured in tanks to flush toilets.
Last year, Amberley won the sustainable school accolade in The Journal’s North East school awards.
“We have had a lot of support from the children, parents and school governors. When you work with the children you realise just how clued up they are,” said Mrs Barkes.
“Small keys open very big doors, and the children get visible reminders about how we can reduce our carbon footprints and make a difference.
“They will inherit the planet and I hope that in 20 to 25 years time they will consider alterative ways to power their own homes.
“It may be the way everyone is going to have to live in the future.”
The school is one of 80 in the UK to receive a grant for renewable energy technology in the second phase of The Co-operative’s £2m Green Energy for Schools programme.
The scheme has installed solar panels at 160 schools, including Swalwell and Glynwood primary schools in Gateshead and The Grove primary school in Consett. It is now piloting additional renewable technologies – biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps – at more than 20 schools.
Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative’s head of community and campaigns, said: ““By switching on the wind turbine, Amberley primary school is helping to educate the next generation about climate change while setting an excellent example to other schools, businesses and homes in Killingworth.”
George Westwater, North Tyneside Council Cabinet member for Children, Young People and Learning, said: “Amberley Primary School should be highly commended for their determination to bring this project to fruition. The switch-on of this wind turbine demonstrates the school’s real commitment to sustainability, which will hopefully inspire the thinking of generations of pupils.”