April 17, 2024

New nature prize will help two schools in Wales go wild

Image: Students at Pentrehafod School in Swansea celebrate winning an OVO Foundation Nature Prize.

The new OVO Foundation Nature Prize is giving funding to schools to help students and their communities connect with nature.  Two schools in Wales were winners out of 25 across the UK – Ysgol Tycroes in Ammanford in Carmarthenshire and Pentrehafod School in Swansea.

Schools across the UK were challenged to come up with their own initiatives – the winning Welsh entries included a student-led climate-resilient school vegetable and fruit garden and wildflower and vegetable planters and outdoor learning provision.

The competition is running in partnership with the Let’s Go Zero campaign, which is supporting UK schools to become zero carbon by 2030. Entrants were asked for ideas that would increase students’ access to nature – particularly those from less-advantaged backgrounds, as well boosting biodiversity in the school grounds and kick-starting climate action. The competition attracted nearly 200 entries.

Hannah Howard, Head of OVO Foundation said: “We want to ensure all children and young people, but especially those in underserved communities, have access to nature – and we also know that students want to be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and opportunities to protect it. Our Nature Prize, and the wider Let’s Go Zero campaign, is a brilliant catalyst for schools to kickstart climate action in school grounds and in every classroom. The winning projects will see their innovative ideas come to fruition, yet every school can gain inspiration from what’s possible with limited resources but a vision for a greener, brighter future for the next generation.”

Winning Schools

£1000 Winners

  •       Ysgol Tycroes, Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Wales
  •       Arbourthorne Community Primary School, Sheffield
  •       Djanogly Sherwood Academy, Nottingham
  •       Downsview Primary School, London
  •       North Herts Education Support Centre, Letchworth Garden City
  •       Northfield School and Sports College, Billingham
  •       Norton Free Church of England Primary School, Sheffield
  •       Our Lady of Peace Primary School, Glasgow
  •       St John’s CE Primary School, Bristol
  •       The Featherstone Academy, Wakefield

£200 winners 

  •       Pentrehafod School, Swansea
  •       Ballyholme Primary School, Bangor
  •       Darley Dale Primary School, Matlock
  •       English Martyrs’ Catholic Voluntary Academy, Derbyshire
  •       Falinge Park High School, Rochdale
  •       Greet Primary School, Birmingham
  •       Lockerbie Learning Centre, Lockerbie
  •       North Star 240, Bristol
  •       Northfleet Technology College, Gravesend
  •       The Polygon School, Southampton
  •       Rosehall Primary School, Lairg
  •       Simon Langton Girls’ School, Canterbury
  •       St Philip Howard Catholic Voluntary Academy, Glossop
  •       St Leonard’s Primary School, Exeter
  •       St Winifred’s Primary School, London

Descriptions of all winning projects can be found on the Let’s Go Zero website but below are a couple of projects from winning schools in Wales.

Ysgol Tycroes, Ammanford

As part of their journey to zero carbon, this school won a Nature Prize with their plans to create a school garden. The garden will produce food for the school and local community as well as create new habitats for local wildlife. Staff and students have plans to re-introduce plants, fruit and vegetables which were once native to the area, which will help to improve crop resilience and tackle climate change. Every student in the school will have the opportunity to work in the garden on a weekly basis,  and have already been involved in the design process and researching what the most popular fruit and veg eaten at the school, to help inform the choice of crops. It is hoped that the garden will serve as conversation starter with the aim to encourage parents and members of the local community to begin their own zero carbon journeys.

Pentrehafod School, Swansea

Students and staff at this secondary school have been searching for funding in order to introduce a range of sustainable and self-sufficient projects. Now, with the money won in the Nature Prize competition, they plan to buy materials for students to build and install vegetable and wildflower planters around the school grounds.

Despite undergoing a major refurbishment five years ago in which the school building was modernised, the plans did not include provision for improving green spaces or developing outdoor learning areas.

With the prize money, the school can begin to develop its outdoor learning provision with pockets of green space that students will be in charge of constructing and maintaining. To involve the wider community and seek further support from local businesses, students will share their ideas, plans and successes through the school’s newsletter and website.

Projects will star in national Let’s Go Zero Campaign 

Over the coming months, the Let’s Go Zero website will share insights and updates from the winning schools as they bring their projects to life.  

The OVO Foundation Nature Prize will run again in 2024, with details announced on the Let’s Go Zero Twitter feed (@LetsGo_Zero) and by email to followers of the campaign.