Tag Archives: One School One Planet

“Soil means dirt, crops and ploughing a field…”

The theme for Week 3 was ‘Catch and Store Energy.’ The first taught session with the class aimed to explore how natural systems function – specifically in the context of soil ecosystems and trophic pyramids. To begin we introduced the theme of soil, and asked students to think about something they probably hadn’t really thought about before – ‘What is soil? What does it mean to you? What impact does it have on your wellbeing?’ The aim in asking this question was to encourage students to begin thinking about themselves in relation to soil, and to realise how much we actually depend on the soil. Here are a few of the responses we received:

It is clear that students have an awareness of the importance of the soil for our survival, but there are also some negative associations with ‘dirt’ and ‘filth’ and misconceptions about soil that must be addressed. Soil is not, for example, ‘almost anywhere and…in no short supply,’ and overzealous ploughing contributes to soil degradation while also releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These are issues and associations that we will address throughout the remainder of the course. The following is a particularly detailed response to the question:

Once the connection between the soil and our food supply was established, we proceeded to delve a little deeper into the processes involved in the carbon and nutrient cycles. In the hope that students would draw on their previous learning in Biology lessons, we asked them to write a short explanation of the process of photosynthesis, and to consider why photosynthesis is important for humans as well as plants. We received a range of responses, from relatively simple to quite complex:

The lesson concluded with a discussion of trophic pyramids and the organic and non-organic components of soil and their role in the carbon cycle.

Steve explaining the carbon cycle.

The second session of the week took a slight divergence from the theme of ‘Catch and Store Energy’ with a re-cap exercise to assess learning over the past couple of weeks. We wanted to check where students were at in their knowledge and thinking about the topics we had so far discussed. See below for a couple of examples:

The main activity for the remainder of the lesson involved students watching a video from Abraham, a farmer living and working in Kenya who recently attended a Permaculture Design Course run by Steve in Uganda:

Abraham explained how his farming techniques were inspired by permaculture principles he had learned on the PDC, and he invited students in Llanfyllin to get in touch with him to ask questions. With this as their impetus, the students were then asked to write letters to Abraham, telling him about life in Wales and asking questions about his community farming activities:

Abraham will be responding to the students’ letters with another YouTube video. We are hoping that we will be able to build up a constructive dialogue between Abraham and students at Llanfyllin High School.

‘The Earth just looked simply beautiful and awesome’: Further Reflections from the Classroom

We have been back in school working with year 10 Welsh Baccalaureate students this week. On Wednesday Steve and Jemma gave a session based around the theme of ‘Observation.’ Jemma created a worksheet for students to work on as the lesson progressed. First students were asked about progress on their Severn Suzuki-inspired speeches. The class will continue to develop their speeches over the coming weeks.

Next, Steve introduced the role of observation in the scientific method. He showed a short video clip of the popular science presenter Prof. Brian Cox:

Students were later asked to define science for themselves:

Continuing with the theme of observation, the class then watched portions of the short film ‘The Overview Effect,’ a documentary about the experiences of Apollo astronauts on first seeing the Earth from above – from space!

The aim was for students to develop an understand the importance of observation in developing resilient responses to change of any kind. The video also helps to put humankind in a much wider context. It allows us to step back for a moment to observe how intimately connected we all are, and how much the planet depends on us, just as we depend of it.

While watching the documentary, students were asked to make note of at least three of the most important quotations from the video. The following is an example of one student’s responses:

The final activity for the session was for students to design their own Memes communicating some of the ideas we have been discussing in class. We had some excellent designs handed in to us, and will put up a separate post displaying them all shortly. For now, here is one particularly evocative example:

Then, on Friday, Steve and Jack returned to do a follow up session looking in more detail at the Paris Climate Agreement and the social, cultural and technological changes that we are going to have to introduce in order to meet its goals. Students were asked to plot out the Paris Agreement graph for themselves using raw figures, and to plot some key Government policy deadlines onto the chart.

Here are a couple of fine examples of students’ graphs:

We used the graph of the Paris Agreement as a stimulus for creating a timeline for change. We hoped to impress on the pupils the rate and degree of change that lies ahead of us. We also wanted to foster an awareness among students of the significance of the agreement, and that by now every country in the World has agreed to work to its targets.

We were overall impressed by the level of critical engagement from the students. They certainly have enquiring minds, and do not take our sessions without a fair pinch of scepticism. This is good for initiating dialogue! Many students have strong opinions about climate change and proposed solutions to the problem – as we discovered last week – and it is our continuing responsibility to address these issues in a constructive manner over the coming weeks.

The students, quite rightly, have a great many questions! One method we are considering putting into practice after half term is to use a Questions Box. If students have any pressing questions arising from our sessions that they want answering or discussing they can write them on a slip of paper and put them in the box. We can then go through the questions and structure our lessons around them in the following weeks.

This is an ongoing process, and we are still learning, but we are making good progress. Stay tuned for more news and updates…

“My name is —. I live in a farmhouse in a small village in Wales…”

This week saw the first official One School One Planet classroom sessions at Llanfyllin High School. We have started working with a class of 29 Year 10 Welsh Baccalaureate students, who are helping us to trial and develop our 12 unit course and learing resources.

On Wednesday, Steve took the first class with the group. He introduced the aims of the One School One Planet project and trialled our Vox Pop project with the students, which we first initiated back in December 2016. The Vox Pop project asks three simple questions:

  1. What does Climate Change mean to you?
  2. What do you know about the Paris Climate Agreement?
  3. If you were in charge, what would you do about Climate Change?

Some of the responses from students are collected below. They are quite revealing!

The responses we gathered on Wednesday serve as very useful baseline survey of students’ views and opinions about climate change and their awareness of strategies for dealing with it.

On Friday, Steve and Jack returned to the class to introduce some project work to begin next week. The project will see each student writing their own 3 minute speech inspired by Severn Suzuki’s 1992 address at the Rio Earth Summit. We plan to record their speeches and edit them together into a short video:

In preparation for starting their speeches we asked the class to put together some ideas for things they might include. We suggested that they write three short paragraphs addressing the following points:

1. Tell us about yourself, your background…
2. What are your concerns?
3. What solutions would you propose?

We were keen to point out that what we were really interested in was their own personal concerns. What they themselves are worried about. Here are some of the ideas they came up with. Again, they are revealing of some very important issues surrounding public opinion about the need for social, cultural and economic change in addressing the eco-crisis.

These are all legitimate concerns and opinions that require positive solutions. We hope that over the course of our 12 units – each covering one of the 12 principles of Permaculture – we will be able to address such concerns with practical and sustainable suggestions.

Finally, one last output from these first two days of classroom work: while they were watching Severn Suzuki’s speech we asked the students to make a note of any particularly poignant imagery or ideas in the address. Some of the clusters of imagery they collected read like little poems. Here are a couple of examples:

Stay tuned for more updates on our project!



Synergies Between Projects

On Friday, Steve Jones and Jack Hunter of the One School One Planet project went on a trip to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth. They were joined by permaculture teacher Lachlan McKenzie, author of the Tropical Permaculture Guidebook . Lachlan and Steve have been working together in preparation for the upcoming Permaculture Convergence at Sabina School in Kamuli, Uganda.

At CAT, we met with geologist and Skeptical Science writer John Mason, Paul Allen, co-ordinator of CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain project, journalist and permaculture teacher Tammi Dalaston, and CAT’s education officer Deirdre Raffan, to discuss the One School One Planet project.

L-R: Lachlan McKenzie, Jack Hunter, John Mason, Paul Allen, Tammi Dallaston. Photo by Steve Jones.

All of the projects mentioned above – Skeptical Science, Zero Carbon Britain and CAT’s educational outreach – share many common aims and objectives with the One School One Planet project. One of the most significant common threads is the importance of mainstream education and a positive vision for the future in tackling the challenges of climate change. We look forward to drawing in these threads through collaboration between projects. This is a very exciting time to be working in this vital field!

On the way back to Llanrhaeadr, we stopped off at the marvelous Cultivate Centre in Newtown to see some of the great educational and community work that has been going on there.

Food Fayre Llanfyllin


Sun 10:00Llanfyllin WorkhouseLlanfyllin

One School One Planet is Moving Forward!

One School One Planet is a groundbreaking educational project, emanating from Llanfyllin in Mid-Wales but with a global outlook.

Following the success of our first year (2016-17), we have secured funding from Arwain/LEADER and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for a further two years of work on the project!

The project simply asks the question: what is our collective vision for Llanfyllin in 2050? Through the lens of the Future Generations Act, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Accord, we are looking forward to a world very different from today.

With the Trump White House locked down in denial of climate change while the USA is battered by a series of once-in-a-thousand-year storms – a pattern long predicted by climate scientists – we are certainly living in interesting times!
Dystopian future visions aside, we are challenged to visualise our own path to a sustainable future, while our governments struggle to lead us out of the quagmire. Maybe it is time to ask the next generation what kind of world they want to grow into?

Paris accord targets graph – part of Images of Paris competition

It is perhaps not surprising that the oil funded denial industry has gone into overdrive to try to keep its monopoly alive a little longer, while the world contemplates the almost total shut down of the fossil fuel industries over the coming decades. France, the UK and China are already talking dates to phase out petrol and diesel cars, and electricity from renewable sources is rapidly becoming cheaper than coal, gas and even nuclear. The world is entering a new era!

What should we be talking about in our schools and across our communities?

How do we prepare ourselves for this scale of change? Businesses, governments and public institutions are going to have to be dragged into the future, because the more rapidly we make these changes the more quickly we reap the benefits and escape the worst ravages of climate change.

The leading climate science bodies tell us it is still possible to avert disaster. The destination we need to get to is known. What needs exploring is the path that will get us there.

Let’s get creative! Let’s generate a clear vision of how we can do this! One School One Planet proposes that we as a community engage in a collective design process to see what we can come up with.

We are kicking off a community scale Permaculture design project which is going to be led by a design team of students from Llanfyllin High School and facilitated by Sector39, the initiators of the project.

Over the next 9 months we are going to be releasing the 12 stages of this process, one by one. Everyone will be able to join in and feed their own ideas into the project. Permaculture design breaks down into 12 sequential themes, that lead to a final vision and design proposal. We will be exploring these through 12 cross-disciplinary units to be delivered simultaneously at Llanfyllin High School and online.

Solving the climate, energy and economic challenges of the day is going to take some fresh perspective and fresh thinking, and we hope we can contribute meaningfully to this process with this project.

The permaculture process asks us to first prepare emotionally and then intellectually for what is coming. We need to be informed, and we need to have a plan. Co-ordinated action is what is required, not a scatter gun approach of unconnected responses. Permaculture design provides that framework, steering ideas and actions into a co-ordinated whole that leads to more resilient and genuinely sustainable alternatives.

Join us, regular updates to follow!