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fairandfunky ECO conference 2024

We may have been met with torrential rain, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for learning at this year’s fairandfunky Outdoor Eco Conference for Primary Schools. Eight schools from across Kirklees joined us to celebrate World Environment Day in the beautiful Holme Valley, taking part in four different creative workshops to demonstrate how we are all connected – from the ground to the tops of the trees and all things in between. The fragility of our natural environment is precedent. Climate change is impacting our planet every day and young people are both concerned and wanting to act. Our conference inspires young people and their educators with lots of little steps to change the world, and as they all learnt together, they shared knowledge and motivated each other too.

“We love conference, it’s fun, eco-friendly and exciting. It gives our eco committee chance to learn more about the environment to share in our assemblies.”

Meltham CE Primary School

The day begun with a warm welcome, that was quickly interrupted by a downpour! Thank goodness for 1st Holme Valley Scouts who had put up their marquee for us the night before. We all quickly found shelter to discover that alongside the workshops there was also a WASTE CHALLENGE to take part in this year. We are very mindful that our events need to have as minimal an impact as possible on our environment, especially an eco-conference, so we introduced our new bins to monitor waste. For every item put in the bins a corresponding number of bottle tops were collected in individual school buckets. At the end of the day, each school will count the bottle tops and report their total.

“Loved the themes of the conference. Children engaged throughout, especially with the waste recycle challenge! We will take so many positive messages back to school.”

Healey J&I School

Students were split into four different groups throughout the day, each one taking part in four different workshops – all sharing ideas from different areas of our environment, showing how the natural world, and our actions in it, are all connected. With Yorkshire Muddings children headed into the woodland to learn how to identify, measure and look after trees. They even made little forest sprites from natural clay and found a favourite tree to hug. Lots of happy faces and muddy hands joined Grow to School to look closely at the properties of different types of soil, what might live there and what it feels like. In the fairandfunky workshop students discovered the impact on food chains/webs when populations become unbalanced. And created a bird from the food chain by reusing milk cartons to take home. Students became River Explorers with River Holme Connections and got to meet some river bugs, learnt how to identify them and learn about their importance in our rivers.

“A great day outdoors doing eco-learning. Loved the enthusiasm of the presenters. The conference is inspiring – I sometimes feel overwhelmed and disheartened, days like this raise spirits and encourage me to continue eco work in school.”

Hepworth J&I School

Over lunch volunteers from Central Coop (Yorkshire Membership Council) lead brilliant cooperative games, whilst Suma were on hand to speak to teachers about the sustainable swaps they could make in their staffrooms. The buzz around the conference was infectious. Teachers talking to each other about wormeries, children sharing ways in which they reuse their rubbish, schools debating how they can do a lunch box waste challenge as well as identifying wildflowers, birds and trees, creating environmental art and generally enjoying the outdoors.

“Great to see pupils from different schools mingling. Such a good range of workshops with a nice, relaxed atmosphere. Great activities over lunch too. Pupils will share their knowledge with peers back at school.”

Whitechapel CofE Primary School

The conference closed with the presentation of the ‘WASTE CHALLENGE’ trophy to the school who threw away the least amount of waste and collected the least number of bottle tops. This year the winners were Diamond Wood Academy, but a special mention must go to Healey J&I School for litter picking around the site and giving themselves the greatest number of bottle tops! Each school also received packets of wildflower seeds and tree saplings (thank you River Holme Connections) for their school grounds and a refillable bottle of washing up liquid and Fairtrade chocolates! (thank you Suma)

“Tactile involvement for the children means they can relate to how small steps help the whole world. We really enjoyed learning about sustainability and how to improve our environment.”

Hillside Primary School

Holme Valley Camping and Caravan Park is an award winning, sustainable campsite with a biomass boiler heating the showers, a recycling system in place, charging points for electric vehicles and a refill shop being amongst their eco credentials. It is the PERFECT venue for us to celebrate World Environment Day. Thank you to Ben and Naomi for hosting us – see you again in 2025! And thank you also to One Community Foundation and The Longley Farm Fund for supporting the conference.

If your school would like to be part of the fairandfunky Outdoor Eco Conference on 5th June 2025 please email to reserve your place.

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