Newsletter 4 – 14 November 2017

Well done to Freshford C of E Primary School who are currently leading the Energy Sparks Scoreboard with 80 points. The Energy Sparks campaign at Freshford School is being led by Year 6 pupils who are enthusiastically monitoring classroom temperatures, and lights and electrical appliances left on at lunch time each day. Their Energy team have also run two assemblies to explain how they have marked up light switches and electrical sockets with the traffic light sticker system empowering pupils to turn off all switches marked green when not needed.

Pensford Primary School are continuing to do well with 60 points earned to date. Their recent activities include creating energy usage data displays for each classroom door to remind the children there that they are trying hard to cut down unnecessary use of electricity. They are also displaying the latest Class Dojo figures awarded for the week, which tell pupils and staff how well (or badly!) they are doing at remembering to turn off electrical items at lunchtime.

Here is a picture of Pensford Year 6 pupils, Chloe and Millie, two of the members of their Eco Team holding the new posters ready to be displayed.


Schools are reminded to encourage pupils recording activities to provide a short description of what they have done and what they learnt from the activities. Try to write the description in a way that people outside your own school can understand what you have done. Including images or video links can be good ways of inspiring other schools to try the same approaches. If you record the same activity more than once, use the description to explain the difference between each recorded activity. For example, did you deliver an assembly twice, but to two different audiences. If you carry out a monitoring activity more than once, use the description to explain how your results are changing each time you monitor, and how you plan to respond to your findings..

Energy Sparks: Signposting of Energy Education Resources, Lesson Plans and Suggested Teaching Material

We have identified 200 different energy education resources, lesson plans and teaching materials and have catalogued them on the above website providing links to all the resources. We have grouped the resources in four ways:

1. By Source e.g. the Energy Pod program (EDF) or the BBC
2. By Topic e.g. nuclear power
3. By Media Type e.g. video, lesson plan, games, quizzes
4. By subject e,g, Maths, Science, Geography

Hopefully this will help you find suitable material for lessons, projects, displays and assemblies. We have also tried to rate the resources (out of 5) to provide some guidance on which individual videos, lesson plans etc. within a given categorisation are best in our opinion, please tell us if you disagree and we will adjust the ratings accordingly.

More Energy Sparks Activities to try at your school
Pupils investigate the school’s thermostats

Do your pupils know what thermostats are?
The temperature in a classroom is normally controlled by a thermostat on the wall where you can set the temperature of the classroom, or by thermostatic radiator valves which are connected to each radiator. Look around the room you are in and see if you can spot how the temperature in a classroom is controlled – is there a dial for the temperature on the wall, or is the temperature controlled by each radiator? In some schools there may be a central thermostat for the whole school.

Remember the best temperatures for schools are:
Normal classrooms: 18°C
Corridors: 15°C
Areas with high levels of activity (e.g. sports halls): 15°C

Look at your results of temperature monitoring around the school. Are there some areas which are consistently too hot or too cold? If so, ask your teachers if you can adjust the thermostats for those areas. You may have to wait for up to an hour for the temperature to change. If you adjust the thermostat, continue to monitor temperatures over the next week to see if they are now between 15°C to 18°C depending on the area of the school.

If radiator valves control the temperature, the valve is normally numbered, a bigger number means a higher temperature, a smaller number a lower temperature. Sometimes these valves become stuck, so if you can’t turn them easily then ask your teacher to help. Sometimes they are broken and stop controlling the temperature – it’s a good idea to ask the caretaker to check all the valves are working correctly in the school.

The school holds a themed event focusing on energy use

A focused energy reduction event, can be a good opportunity to promote energy saving to the wider school community including parents. Some possible options you might like to try include:

Hold a ‘Switch Off Day’ when the school tries to spend the day without using electricity.  By switching off electrical appliances for just one day, you can encourage children and staff to think about how much energy is used (and wasted) and find ways to reduce your school’s energy consumption. Items to turn off: Lights, Computers, Whiteboards, Monitors, Printers, Photocopiers, Projectors, Laminators, Sound systems, Microwaves, Kettles, Toasters. You may consider asking catering staff to reduce their energy usage by making a cold lunch.

  1. Audit your school to find out how many electrical appliances could be turned off for the day.
  2. Tell everyone about the Switch Off day. Explain the reasons for doing it.
  3. Decide which appliances will be switched off. There may be exceptions e.g. office staff may need to use telephones and computers; computing servers and fridges and freezers will need to stay on. Label them as essential to ensure they are not switched off.
  4. Plan electricity free lessons and activities for the day. Outdoor spaces and resources may need to be timetabled.
  5. Spread the word and remind everyone about your switch off day by using assemblies, posters, newsletters and blogs to engage children and adults.
  6. Use the Energy Sparks charts to measure how much energy you saved during the day, compared to a normal day.

If you think a Switch Off Day would be too disruptive, try a No Energy Hour when as much electricity and gas usage as possible is stopped across the school. Some schools find the last hour of the school day works well to avoid disrupting meal preparation. Remember to make sure doors and windows are closed to retain heat once the heating is switched off.

Switch off Fortnight runs nationally from 20th November to 3rd December in 2017. See for more information, and free downloadable resources.

For an event encompassing the wider school community try running a ‘100 Club Challenge’, where families are challenged to reduce their electricity use to under 100kWh a week. Those who are successful are celebrated in assembly and receive a special certificate designed by pupils. You can also have a ’50 club’ for your super savers. This challenge communicates a strong message in school and at home that we can save both money and the environment if we reduce our energy. Pupils can monitor families’ energy use either via their home Smart meters, or by taking manual meter readings at the start and end of the week.

Posted in Newsletters.