Current Activities     

Autumn 2012 - Winter 2013                           

Our aim is to foster respect for the environment and compassion for living things; to enhance understanding of different cultures and to inspire all students to take certain actions that will make the world a better place for animals, people and the environment.  

We still adhere to the Roots and Shoots ideals of people, animals and the environment as shown in he headings of this blog. 'One World' has taken on new meaning this year as our community has become international.

Follow Millie's and Sam's Send My Friend to School BLOG here and download resources for the campaign here  



A Fairtrade bake sale is a customary part of the Fairtrade group's early Christmas celebrations. Thanks to to Mrs Waine and to students of all ages, several students were able to stay after school for a bake-off in food technology.  The event was sponsored by Sainsbury of Ringwood and we are very grateful to Vikki Jordan for her support.

Our bake sale and sale of Fairtrade goodies followed the next day when we were joined by Mrs Whalen's smoothie makers and by a lady who made up a display of crafts from the Philippines. These were sold in aid of the PCF, a group who support highly disadvantaged children in the Philippines. Despite students mistakenly thinking they could pay on 'cashless' as they are accustomed to doing now, all cakes sold and again we are grateful to have had the support of Sainsbury's Ringwood.

Right: Robbie's magnificent Dorset apple cake

Thanks to Ms Wood, Mrs Waine, Vikki Jordan and to all those who supported the sale either by helping or by buying. Special help to the cooks. We were able to send £100 to the Philippines disaster appeal.




The article below was written by Virginia Kelly on behalf of the UNA and was published in this form by the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times

Lymington United Nations Association heard a highly professional presentation by three students from Ringwood School on their campaign for Education for All. Universal primary education is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and Millie Wells and Sam Whittingham have spent 2013 campaigning hard to foster this goal. Samantha Kimberley joined them, representing their many peers who have been inspired to help take the campaign forward.


Below: left to right - Sam Whittingham, Samantha Kimberley, Millie Wells and Peter Williams OBE



On the basis of their campaign ideas, Sam and Millie won a national competition for 14 year olds called Send My Friend to School, facilitated by The Steve Sinnott Foundation and the NUT. Their win sent Millie and Sam on a fact-finding trip to Delhi in India to visit a variety of schools and meet young people and teachers. They also met officials and politicians, and used every opportunity to ask questions, uncovering a shocking range of problems and clarifying their own ideas of what to campaign for as a way forward.


When Millie and Sam returned, they ran a campaign to raise awareness and to foster practical support for education in developing countries. In the words of their teacher Gill Hickman, “Their work reached every member of the school.” Enthusiastic fellow students such as Samantha have become Global Campaigners for Education to help.


In India, Millie and Sam asked young people for their ideas on “My Ideal School” and “My Ideal Teacher.” The Global Campaigners later used the same focus for an Education for All day at Ringwood. Year 9 ideas included “inter-active whiteboards in all classrooms” and “teachers with a sense of humour.” They were astonished when the Campaigners revealed the Indian students’ suggestions: classes should be less than 80; toilets in school should not be just for teachers; girls should get a chance to speak; teachers should attend all lessons and should not use their cell phones during lessons.

 The newly-aware Ringwood students wrote letters to government ministers, or recorded their ideas on postcards. These were presented to local MP Desmond Swayne, who was asked to pass them on, reminding the UK government of their promise to support the MDGs on Education. Sam and Millie interviewed Mr Swayne about his ideas regarding education for all. The Campaign cascaded outwards as Ringwood students took it to local junior schools and encouraged those students, in turn, to take the ideas home.


Sam, Millie and Samantha also reported on some of their other, wider activities. These included speaking to the APPG on Global Education, participating in a national Send My Friend to School Day ‘thank you’ day in London, where campaigners lobbied Parliament and a delegation met DFID Minister Lynne Featherstone. And Millie and Sam went to New York to take part in the first Youth Takeover at the UN and to hear Malala Yousafzai’s wonderful speech about the importance of education for girls. They joined other global campaigners at the UN and made strong links with young disabled campaigners. Most recently they have highlighted the plight of Syrian child refugees.


After the young people’s inspiring presentation of their work, their concerns were taken forward by Peter Williams, OBE (see photo above)His career work has been in education in developing countries and he has been a long-term member of the Education Committee of the UK National Commission for UNESCO. 


Progress towards the MDGs will be assessed in 2015, and new goals will be established. Education counts as a “success” because of the progress which has been made since 2000. However, as Millie, Sam and Samantha had so ably shown, the remaining 60 million or so children not in school are amongst the most difficult to serve: the disabled, minority groups, those displaced by war or disaster, and slum children like those they met in Delhi. 


Mr. Williams said there can also be problems of disillusionment for students, parents, administrators and even governments if education promises much but does not deliver. So how can the quality of the education being provided be measured and raised? How can more teachers be better trained, and quickly? And how can they be better distributed? If students do finish an adequate primary course, is there a secondary or vocational course for them to move on to afterwards?

Advocacy for education remains vital, with new goals after 2015 that are specific and appropriate.  An effort to measure and improve quality must be included. As Mr. Williams put it: we must get the children into school. But then we must keep them there, help them complete a good quality course with good teachers, and give them something to go on to. As Millie said: Education is the stepping stone into life, and your life should not depend on the luck of where you were born.

To learn more about Sam, Millie and Samantha’s work, visit the web site of Send My Friend to School: where their work is featured, including photos and a video made during their Delhi visit. There are links outward from there to other relevant sites and to their Twitter accounts, where you can follow the campaign.

The next Lymington UNA meeting will be at the Lymington Community Centre on Saturday Jan. 25, 2014 at 2pm, when the Executive Director of UNA-UK will speak.


Virginia Kelly


The Education for All Day Conference

A hearty English breakfast was not what we expected when we arrived at the National Union of Teachers headquarters at Hamilton House in London!  Having run a highly successful Education for All Day in July, we were invited to present to the first ever EFA Day conference at Hamilton House London, to invited schools, and to the Steve Sinnott Foundation and the NUT, the  two major sponsors of the Send My Friend to School Campaign.  On arrival we were greeted with that hearty English breakfast.



After the presentation:

From left to right: Sam., Millie, Jade and Iona


Former Young Ambassadors for Global Education had been invited to the conference and this was the first time they had been able to meet and chat.  All students, linked by a common concern for the 57 million children who are unable to attend school,  got on with each other very well indeed. See below, with Mary Sinnott. 

It was a particular pleasure for us, and Broadstone Middle, to meet Mary Sinnott, whose husband Steve Sinnott had set up a trust fund that supplies some of the funding for Send My Friend to School.

The day involved the presentation of our work for Education for All Day but Millie and Sam were asked to brief the audience, with slides, about their fact-finding visit to the Delhi slums. Iona Spence-Dingle and Jade Wardle provided excellent support by talking about the day, and Jade was able to show the article she had written in August and that the Steve Sinnott Foundation published in ‘Engage’.  Later in the day, children from a junior school gave a talk about the support that they are able to offer to a school in Nepal through a direct link.

Ringwood Students set up a stall and answered questions posed by other visiting children. (See photo below.) This was a good opportunity to engage with the audience and to for our students to gain new ideas and perspectives.

We were delighted that students of one of the excellent schools that we worked with on EFA Day, Broadstone Middle, were able to join us for the day. It was good to see the effectiveness of our work with junior schools as the Broadstone school has subsequently extended the work with great success. We understand that parents at a recent parents' evening, were asked to inscribe on a Send My Friend puppet, what they thought made a good teacher! 


Living Streets

So when we took the phone call and were asked by ‘Living Streets' if we would like healthy, alert students arriving at a safe, congestion-free school gate every morning, we agreed that we would.  We learnt from Helen Corkery that Living Streets'  Free Your Feet challenge is a simple and effective whole-school walking challenge.

To provide base-line data, we carried out a quick ‘How do you travel to school’ survey in tutor groups, then Helen Corkery came in from Living Streets and showed all year groups PowerPoint slides in assemblies. Free your Feet increases students’ awareness of the physical, psychological and environmental benefits of walking, and encourages them to walk as much as they can during their school journeys. Having learnt about the benefits of walking to school, and using tutor group time, students recorded their walking on postcards during a week near the end of the autumn term.  

Student postcards were collected at the end of the week, and entered into a prize draw, with one student winning the £50 shopping voucher. Everyone who walked at all (however far), had an equal chance of winning, but on the last day of the Christmas term, the prize went to a delighted Year 8 student.

Another survey will be carried out in the spring term and Year 9 students will be able to run 'Campaign in a Box', an interesting business and enterprise opportunity




We were really pleased to receive a cheque for £140 for our milk bottle tops.  This money goes straight to Naomi House and we hope to invite a representative in to talk to a group of students about Naomi House's work as it's important to keep each generation of students informed. Our bottle top collection was started by students Harriet King and Liz Spender many years ago, and has kept going with huge success ever since.


Likewise, it was a real pleasure to give the Royal National Institute for the Blind a huge sack of postage stamps - a quantity that they were quite overwhelmed by! It was good to receive a letter of thanks from the RNIB and a small poster which will spur on further collections.


Our aluminium collection is the only form of recycling for which we gain money. Aluminium is collected in tutor groups and is sold for cash. This is reinvested in environmental projects at school. Empty pill packets and shiny paper (like crisp packets) are plastic and they are useless. In fact, they contaminate our aluminium so badly that the scrap metal merchants refused to accept our aluminium last October.


Thanks to a team of made up by Year 7 boys, Jonathan, Aaron, Oliver, Finn and Henry, our aluminium is finally sorted.  This has taken the team many lunchtimes and has quite rightly gained the team members many VIvos. The task was unpleasant but necessary;  to separate steel from aluminium and then to separate out real rubbish. People had handed in crisp packets, old pill packets and laminated foil from pet food as aluminium. Please remember that only aluminium - foil (as in turkey foil) and trays (as in frozen food and ready meals, and aluminium cans,  mince pie containers and tea light holders with the wick removed (the wick holder is steel) go to reception. Steel cans go in one of the NFDC collecting bins. If in doubt please use a magnet from science to test a can.  


How often do students return to school in September, or after Christmas, with a superb felt tip collection?  Many buy markers, corrector fluid and pens from the school shop, and many student Vivos are spent on stationery. How ironic it is that so many are left on the floor and are picked up by teachers and by cleaners. 

Above: students' orderly collections soon become chaos. We urge you to pick these up and to reuse them, otherwise the after school team will pick them up and they will be added to our substantial collection. Below - Jason and Mary with a fortnight's collection!  Thanks to both!

We started collecting pens, markers and felt tips in October and intended this to be a means by which staff and students could hand in old and useless markers, pens and felt tips. However, much of our collection consists of items that have been abandoned by their owners at the end of the school day and we are grateful for our cleaning staff who collect them up. Our collection is now quite substantial and when we reach 5kg., will be sent off to the admirable firm, Terra Cycle who will melt them down and recycle them. We are an official TERRA CYCLE Brigade. Download a poster and watch a video here.



We started paper recycling well before we became a Green Flag Eco-School, and we continue to do so today. Periodically we show small groups of students how to make high quality paper pads from nearly new photocopying paper. The photo below shows Year 7 students with their Year 11 'trainers' Sam and Katy.

 Recycling remains a top priority so thank you to ALL STAFF, STUDENTS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS FOR YOUR EFFORTS ON RECYCLING.

As a reminder, we would like more pens, makers, felt tips (dead or alive), more stamps, milk bottle tops, spectacles, hearing aids, bras and aluminium. All fund good works and support charities.

This House Would Ban All Forms of Animal Research

University debating societies across the UK Over the course of four days, in mid October debated the motion that ‘This House Would Ban All Forms of Animal Research’. Biology teachers all over the country held similar debates at their schools. Each ended with an audience vote that allowed all students to indicate where they stand on the motion.

Jeremy Bentham famously wrote ‘The question is not, can they reason? Nor can they talk? But, can they suffer?’ The answer to this question is very obvious – of course animals can suffer – they can feel pain, they can feel stress and they can feel lonely. Imagine if you were locked in a laboratory all day on your own, and then taken out by strange people to be injected with needles or cut open.  Why is an animal’s life worth any less than our own?  Thus began our animal research debate.

Sixth formers Robbie Shaw, Georgia Cookson (in action above), George Bratt, Sam Kimberley and Bronwen Pounds battled it out in this debate that aimed to lay out the best arguments for and against banning animal research so that participants had the information necessary to make up their own minds. Students’ waged war and the debate became increasingly heated. And the result?  The motion was defeated by just one vote with the participants  recognising that just occasionally, animal research is the only option. 



The description of the event below written for national newspapers was supplied by Action Aid

Four students from Ringwood, Millie Wells, Sam Whittingham, Samantha Kimberley and Katy Barrett, were joined by other teenagers from across the UK to ask minister Lynne Featherstone what the government is doing to make sure every child worldwide gets a chance to go to school.

Millie Wells and Sam Whittingham, 2013 Young Ambassadors for Global Education, were joined by Global Campaigners, Katy Barrett and Samantha Kimberley. They travelled to London to join with other young people who were deeply concerned about the 57 million children worldwide who are missing out on education

The four were invited to Oxfam HQ for the morning while in the afternoon they had a private meeting with Lynne Featherstone.  At Oxfam HQ Ringwood students presented their work to other young advocates for global education. They were careful to allow other schools to show what they had done in their own brilliant campaigns.  The primary objective was to prepare a collage representing all campaigning by Ringwood School and the others. This was then to be presented to Lynne Featherstone, Undersecretary of the Department for International Development. Students much enjoyed hearing about other schools’ campaigns and decided that making the collage was fun.  The final piece looked great!

Their time with the Minister arrived finally. Students went in in cabs to the Department for International Development, DFID, in Whitehall where their private meeting with Lynne Featherstone MP took place. Students’ photos were taken with the minister together with the collage made earlier in the day. The meeting with Ms Featherstone followed and students enjoyed  the opportunity to ask questions.  They included questions such as, “How can we ensure that children who are disabled get the education they need?” and, knowing how poor some teaching had been in Delhi, “How can we make sure that teaching is of good quality?”  The meeting was ably chaired by our Global Ambassador, Sam Whittingham.

Ms Featherstone warmed to students’ questions and answered them as honestly as she could. They learnt a great deal about what the government is doing to try to ensure that the quest for getting all children into education by 2015 is addressed. At the end of the meeting students formally presented Lynne Featherstone with their collage and discussed each school’s efforts to help the Send My Friend to School campaign.  They were slightly surprised to learn that at this point she seemed completely unaware that Millie and Sam had been to India on a fact-finding mission to the slums!


Ms Featherstone said, ”It was fantastic to meet such passionate children who care so much about the world they are growing up in and helping to shape. I was impressed by their understanding of the importance of education and their commitment to help less fortunate children across the world receive the education they deserve. Education acts as a ladder out of poverty and helps young people reach their full potential. Making sure children in developing countries get a good education is a priority for DFID and we are working with other countries to make sure that education is an important part of the new set of development goals to be agreed in 2015.” 

Below: Millie, Sam, Sam and Katy particularly enjoyed the company of students from Kingsbury School, a school that is celebrated on the Send My Friend website for their great contribution to the campaign. It was good to spend time with students who understood the issues so well.



As many of you may know and may be following with a close eye, the Government has decided to implement a badger cull as a measure to control TB outbreaks in cattle. Bovine tuberculosis is a huge problem for farmers, with over 38,000 cattle having to be slaughtered as a result of the disease. However, many key scientists have been surprised at the decision to cull badgers following the report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB. The report stated that ‘badger culling is unlikely to contribute positively, or cost effectively, to the control of cattle TB in Britain’ and recommended ‘priority should be given to developing policies based on more rigorous application of control measures to cattle, in the absence of badger culling’

Students who are interested in wildlife were joined by Mr Treagust's regular debaters, and as should be the case, both sides of the argument were hotly debated. STudents were particularly concerned about the manner in which badgers are killed, which seems hit and miss to say the least. However, some students had direct experience of the effect of badgers on a cattle herd and it became clear that this was no black and white issue. The result was a narrow defeat for the proposal that the badger cull is necessary. Ringwood students are in support of the badger.

Thanks to all particpants, and special thanks to those who proposed and opposed the motion. In the true spirit of debating, they sometimes did not present their own personal views.


Students in many classes enjoyed an unusual treat after half term. We were able to mount a superb display of fungi, legally collected from the Forest two days earlier in short forays organised by the Hampshire Fungus Recording Group.  

Students were immediately able to see the diversity within the Kingdom Fungi and they learnt about edible and poisonous specimens. They particularly enjoyed hearing about the more unusual fungi.  We are very grateful to the Hampshire Fungus Recording Group who provided interesting leaflets and most of the fungi.


A second foray provided a great lunch of chanterelles (felft). Chanterelles seem to be worth their weight in gold. They are golden looking, golden tasting, and golden priced. The cap is fleshy, with wavy, rounded cap margins tapering downward to meet the stem. The gills are not the usual thin straight panels hanging from the lower surface of the cap, as we see in the common store mushroom. Instead, the ridges are rounded, blunt, shallow, and widely spaced. At the edge of the cap they are forked and interconnected. The chanterelle's aroma is unmistakably different and (fortunately) easily identifiable.




The Global Campaigners team was set up by Millie Wells and Sam Whittingham in order to take the Send My Friend to School campaign further. Team members this term, have written and delivered assemblies and follow-up activities for students in tutor groups about the plight of  children in Syria. They used the materials from OXFAM such as these  Syrian refugee cards (below)


Syria is a crisis for children and several students felt very strongly about the plight of these children and wanted to do something. After learning about Human Rights, many signed this petition which went to the United Nations this week. Others Tweeted and several students wrote to politicians.

Two tutor groups sent 30 small postcards to politicians, (some, with children's responses typed out by Sam Whittingham are shown here and here) and students in Mr Denham's tutor group wrote letters to Justine Greening, David Cameron, Desmond Swayne and Lynne Featherstone. Nadia and Lauren (below) were thrilled to get replies from Downing Street, Desmond Swayne and from DFID.

Well done girls and well done to the Global Campaigners.



Several of the new Forest villages enjoyed Apple Days. Minstead's (below) was particularly informative and was enjoyed by several students.Thanks to Transition Southampton, many staff and students have been able to buy raspberry canes, blackcurrants and fruit trees at much reduced prices. Most will be delivered in January.



We collected poppy seeds from our wildflower meadow earlier this year as they are easy to harvest and to separate from other seeds. We have had several sessions making these into seedballs (see GYO below). Students were provided with a mixture of clay, compost and poppy seeds and were invited to make them into marble sized balls. These neat creations have all the components needed for growth when water is added. They will be sown in the school grounds next spring.

The photos show our progression from large seedballs last year (left) to this year's smaller versions with a higher proportion of clay to compost.


Our new greenhouse and shed arrived in October and the GYO group were pleased to transfer garden tools over to the shed but disappointed to be unable to start anything in the greenhouse.  The group started work in October, clearing beds and spreading manure on them. They are probably in better shape than they have been for two years! One enthusiastic group of girls has cleared the largest of the beds specifically for poppy seeds which we hope  will grow in time for next year’s centenary commemoration activities of the 1914-18 war.

Thanks to Transition Southampton, we have been able to enlarge our area devoted to soft fruit and have planted blackcurrant and more raspberry canes and sowing more poppy seeds round the school.

A highlight for some GYO students was a visit to Westminster Abbey to a Harvest Festival service where students presented a basket of home-produced food supplemented by foods from New Forest Marque.



"Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights."

Our Global Campaigners in Westminster. Great campaigning earned them this place. See article below


This survey is being run by the Society for Biology. Last year they received 6000 records of flying ants and there seemed to be a slow double peak in flying ants. This year they are also keeping a look out on the species that are flying. They expect most to be the black pavement ant but they are asking people to send in a sample so that ants can be identified.

 Find our more at

Big Butterfly Count

Once again students are taking part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count during July and August. This year it has been given David Attenborough’s backing, and the BBC have produced a special butterfly Springwatch. It was excellent and it will be available on i-Player for several weeks. So far, thee seems to be LOTS of Gatekeepers in and around Ringwood, lots of small whites and few Peacocks or Red Admirals. However, the summer weather looks promising so we should get a good count.

Why count butterflies?

Butterflies react very quickly to environmental change making them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.  The count also helps Butterfly Conservation to identify trends in species and this lets them plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.

Taking part

Count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather. In August most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle, so more likely to be seen. Records are welcome from anywhere: from parks, school grounds and gardens, to fields and forests.

If  counting from a fixed position in your garden, you  do this like RSPB Birdwatch, ie count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. Eg, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia, record it as 3, but if you only see one at a time then record it as 1 (even if you saw one on several occasions) – so you don’t count the same butterfly more than once. If you are counting on a walk, simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.

Download Butterfly Conservation’s identification chart  and submit your records. You can submit separate records for different dates, and for different places that you visit. Remember that your count is useful even if you do not see any butterflies or moths.

You can only send in your sightings online at or new this year is a free smartphone app for Big Butterfly Count that lets you carry out and submit your Count all in one go. Unfortunately, no counts can be submitted on paper or by email, text or phone. The website will be open to receive records throughout July and August.




Poulner School had an Inset Day on our #Education for All Day so couldn't join in with our events.  However, whilst we were helping the school with gardening, we were able to fix a date with the children's enthusiastic year 6 teacher. That date was the day we had agreed to the interviewing of key students and to the filming of the school by the Global Campaign for Education. Oxfam's John McLaverty also made his last visit of the year.  Poulner Juniors were treated to a day in the new conference centre. This, on a hot July day, proved an excellent venue.

Children gathered outside on the picnic benches while we prepared. We were treated to spirited singing that seemed to be being led by one of our students, so we invited them in!  For the last time this academic year, Sam and Millie explained their findings from Delhi and showed the children their Delhi slides. They were also able to talk about #MalalaDay as were the Global Campaigner team. There is no doubt that these children fully understood Education for All and they completed the puppet making exercise with the help of our Global Campaigners with real enthusiasm.  More puppets for Mr. Swayne! We hope he's handed the over to Mr Cameron.

Above: Poulner Year Six with Ringwood's Global Campaigners



Six students gave a presentation to Ringwood's Rotary Club and some of the School Governors. They were asked to speak about the Ambassador Eco-Schools Award that we obtained earlier this year. They explained that this was not simply a 'next step' after our 4th Green Flag award but rather that it showed a capacity to work beyond the school, and to share good practice. This is exactly how we have been working throughout the past year: we have shared good practice with six neighbouring schools, working intensively on energy with three of them. We also explained how a perceived need to boost our Global Citizenship work led to our involvement in the Send My Friend to School Campaign.

Sam and Millie described their activities since winning the Steve Sinnott Award which had allowed them to travel to Delhi and then to the United Nations for Malala Day. The setting up of the Global Campaigners group and their work on the Education For All Campaign was very well described by the other students.

Photo: Philip Wells

The Rotarians were overwhelmed by the achievements of the students, and one lady commented, "What can I say? I had no idea that Ringwood School was involved in all this. I am awe-struck."

Well done to Nuala, Katy, Sam K, Isaac, and of course to Millie and Sam for a good evening's work.   Well done to Jade for writing a small article for the Steve Sinnott Foundation on the work of the Global Campaigners throughout the summer of 2013.

Friday 12th July – MALALA DAY!

The big day finally arrived, July 12, Malala Day! This was a day for Malala Yousafzai, the courageous Pakistani schoolgirl activist who was shot by the Taliban last October, simply for advocating that girls be able to go to school. After a long recovery in a Birmingham hospital, she celebrated her 16th birthday at the United Nations headquarters in New York, speaking in front of a group of 500 youth delegates from around the world, demanding change.

All had convened at the UN to honour Malala’s bravery and to reaffirm their support for the right of every child to be in school and learning by 2015. We had the fortunate and humbling opportunity to be part of this global youth effort.

Today’s generation of youth is the largest the world has ever known. The vast majority of these youth live in developing countries. Together, we have unprecedented potential to advance the well-being of the entire human family. But first, everyone deserves education,  safety  from  violence and freedom from hunger.

These were amongst the demands made in ‘The Youth Resolution: The Education Young People Want’, an official document drafted by youth leaders and presented to the United Nations on Malala Day. We owe it to the 57 million children who are out of school to put these resolutions into action. The document is a solemn call on all governments and institutions to ensure free access to quality education for the 57 million children unable to attend school and undertake concerted efforts to advance children's rights.

The Youth Resolution was presented to the Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and called for adoption and accountability by all governments. The young people resolved to no longer be indifferent to the challenges of our time. Mr Ban Ki-moon, an orphan of the Korean War, himself rescued by the United Nations, told the youth assembly, “Extremists showed what they feared the most: a girl with a book.”

Sitting among youthful campaigners from around the world, the determination in their voices, the diversity of their experiences, and a shared need to create a world in which all children are able to get an education was a moving experience. But most moving of all was the appearance of Malala herself, a leader, the symbol of the movement. She was rightly introduced by former Prime Minister and UN special envoy for global education, Gordon Brown as, “the most courageous girl in the world.” In a powerful speech Mr Brown said, “You can last 30 days without food, you can last 8 days without water, you can last 8 minutes without air, but you can’t last a second without hope” he said.

Malala’s speech moved many, including her mother, to tears. Speaking in a high-pitched voice that showed her youth, her message was grown-up, well beyond her years. It was a rousing, impassioned speech, one so defiant and so poignant that it prompted everyone hearing it to rise to their feet in spontaneous, thunderous and prolonged applause.

She began by asserting, "Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights." Then with wisdom beyond her age, she spoke of Gandhi, of Nelson Mandela and of Martin Luther King as her role models who had inspired her to continue her fight. She explained that she was proud to be wearing a pink shawl that had once belonged to Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan. And as she spoke, it was quite clear that she too was in the process of earning her place in history. Speaking of the attempt on her life she said, "We realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The extremists are afraid of books and pens."

She continued, “The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”

She said that she did not seek revenge on the Taliban, because she wanted education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists, especially the Taliban.

“I don’t even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him.”

Her compassion, her determined spirit and her absolute refusal to give up, not just on herself, but on the 57 million youth who are still not able to go to school was humbling. “I speak so that those without a voice can be heard,” she said.

And indeed, that’s why we had all assembled there that day. We all believed so strongly in the fundamental right of all children to a quality education. ‘Leave no-one behind’ sums it up, and could be our mantra. Furthermore, we all believed in the power of youth, like Malala, to bring about that change.

It is difficult to describe what we all felt on Malala Day: we felt exhilarated yet humbled. We all felt proud to be involved in this great movement, activists being very definitely led by Malala to create the world that we all wish to see. In the final moments of her speech, Malala called upon all the governments to fight against terrorism, to protect children from brutality and harm. She called upon the United Nations to expand opportunity and education for girls all over the world.

As we reflect on the Youth Takeover, coming out of Malala Day, we know that 500 people left with hope that the future will find a more secure world, a more educated people and less burdened children; a world in which countries like India where our journey began, cares for its young and nurtures its future.

Follow Millie's and Sam's Send My Friend to School BLOG here and here

The 'Send My Friend' website gives further details

Meeting Philip Parham, the UK Ambassador to the UN

On our first full day in 'The Big Apple' we met with the Deputy UK Ambassador to the UN, Philip Parham.  Millie and Sam wanted to address three main issues from the youth outcomes document.  Their chosen areas of focus included girls, children with disabilities and the global lack of trained teachers.

When discussing the 1.7 million professional teachers needed. Mr Parham said that, like us, he feels that a proportion of the UK's international aid should be targeted at training more teachers so that the quality of education and learning can rise.

Next, Millie and Sam told him of what they had seen in India; sometimes girls missing out on education because of their culture or due to them being pulled out of school as they are being sexually teased or harassed. Again Mr Parham was supportive of our cause and explained that the UK government is trying to support 1 million more of the poorest girls in school through the Girls' Education Challenge. This is an initiative that calls upon NGOs, charities and the private sector to find better ways of ensuring girls receive a quality education and transform their future.
He was keen to say how important the British government was in working towards progress on education. This week, the UK government has reached their commitment of 0.7% of GNI on international aid, something we had learnt from Desmond Swayne two days earlier. This, he thinks, has given the UK soft power within the UN to take leadership in achieving the promises made at the millennium.


Finally we expressed our concern about the education of children with disabilities. We felt very strongly about this issue as we had met the inspiring young campaigners from Leonard Cheshire Disability the previous night. We recounted the stories of Markson and Andira who not only face two barriers - access to education and quality of education. Mr Parham explained that this was also an issue close to his heart as one of his children has a disability. He also said that we need to disaggregate the figures to make sure that more children are accessing education across all groups of society. An education for all really should mean an education for all.

 Mr Parham gave generously of his time and we were left with the strong impression that this kind and generous man is really doing his best for those who lack a quality education.

To the UN – and a Youth Orientation session!

The Youth Orientation session was designed to fire everybody up in readiness for Malala Day. We all thought it was great to finally get into the UN building. While lining up to pass through security it was good to talk to other campaigners from all around the world! Once in the orientation session the atmosphere buzzed! Chernor Bah, the charismatic Chair of the Youth Advisory Group (YAG) led the session and got everyone in the mood by calling out , "I say Malala, you say Day' then everyone would chant 'Malala' 'Day', 'Malala' 'Day!'

People were split into small groups and asked to discuss what inspired them to campaign for education for all. Next everyone was asked to sum up the need for education in one line! The session ended with a hot seat between two people in each group who appeared to be the most influential. Questions were fired at them. This orientation session was fantastic for Millie and Sam as being the youngest at the UN, they very much enjoyed meeting and having discussions with other young people who are passionate advocates of education for all.

One of our Young Ambassadors was invited to sit on an advocacy panel (above) and that fell to Millie as Sam had excessive commitments the previous weekend that would prevent him preparing a speech. Millie, the youngest by a very wide margin, talked very clearly about the way in which 'Send My Friend' campaigning worked. Sam made a name for himself by operating every speaker's presentation - without seeing them beforehand.


Above: Millie speaking on the panel of an advocacy group.

Meeting international campaigners in New York

On our first evening in New York, Karen Garvin of Action Aid had arranged an urban picnic in an area adjacent to the Unicef building. Here Millie and Sam met with inspiring young campaigners for everyone's rights to an education. This included young disabled and it was a privilege to meet the young people sponsored by Leonard Cheshire homes. Millie and Sam quickly recognised that #educationforall should include those with disabilities and hope that this becomes a focus for next year's 'Send My friend to School' campaign.

Also at the picnic were Nina and Abigail, two young ladies from the Cameroons and Zambia. Each had an amazing story to tell and each illustrated so well the difference that education had made in their lives. Furthermore, both were aware that they were excellent role models for the power of education and both were working hard to ensure their stories were heard in their own communities.

Millie and Sam also met Zarmina Rasouli, a young Afghan woman who joined us in our hotel and talked to us about being a girl in Afghanistan. As we expected, it had been very difficult. The five years of Taliban rule saw the erosion of many rights of women (and men) n the country. Women were often confined to their homes and girls were out of school and many of her friends had been forced to marry young.

We learnt that while many of her friends’ parents left the country for Pakistan, her parents remained in Afghanistan. This was the first time she mentioned her parents. They were critical in her life story. As she couldn’t leave her home, this meant she couldn’t continue her education.

Despite these risks, Zarmina took the risk and mustered up the courage to return to school in 2005 to complete her 12th standard education. Even when studying, she wanted to do more and she joined a local group ARU (a partner of Action Aid) as a social organiser during her summer holidays. She also joined Action Aid in mid 2005 as a volunteer.

We heard she is doing a degree in Business accounting while working at Action Aid. She is now a provincial manager working in 288 villages. She works in the most marginalised communities where there are specific problems relating to women and children. Her example has motivated many girls to come out of homes and go back into education, and as a result of Action Aid’s programme, more than 300 girls have completed 12th standard.

When asked why she withstood the pressure from the Taliban, she credited her parents. Zarmina’s Dad, when asked whether he wanted Zarmina to marry, he replied, “No, you will have to kill me first.”  She also spoke about the importance of Action Aid’s work that was different in towns and rural areas, and about network groups and practical actions that help get children into school.

We all found her story of perseverance very moving and very much hope we will be able to meet up again tomorrow, on Malala Day.


GLOBAL CAMPAIGNERS visit parliament

Seven of Ringwood School's Global Campaigners were invited last week to take part in an historical international event. They visited the House of Commons on Friday July 12, to be part of Malala Day and were invited take part in a day of action in support of the Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai, as she addressed the United Nations in New York on her 16th birthday. Malala made a courageous stand for the rights of girls to have an education and was shot by the Taliban last year.

Student members of Ringwood’s Global Campaigners Group were addressed by Lord Ray Collins, Shadow Minister for International Development and were then shown films of attacks on schools and of the difficulties encountered by young people in different countries who want a chance to go to school. The youngsters brainstormed problems, questioned MPs and their three key messages together with a ‘call to action’ from the UK, were relayed to the UN General Assembly in New York.  They said,

 “This can’t be taken as another flimsy petition. The Millennium Development Goal [to get all children into education by 2015] is approaching and we need to take action now. It’s about time we make our voices heard and eventually we will get 57 million more children the rights and education they deserve.”

Above: This IS a brainstorm from our Global campaigners!

Wearing ‘Send my friend to school’ T shirts and holding giant posters of Malala, the global campaigners posed for a photograph with other students before crossing the river to the Southbank Centre and enjoying a live feed to the UN.

Afternoon speakers included education advocate Sarah Brown before the live feed to New York let them hear speeches from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown (now UN Special Envoy for Global Education), UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and finally Malala herself. Millie Wells and Sam Whittingham, currently UK Young Ambassadors for Global Education and winners of the Steve Sinnott Award 2013, were in New York at the United Nations where they represented the UK and heard the speeches first hand.

At the Southbank Centre, the Ringwood students listened to Malala’s compelling message, many with tears running down their faces.  Malala's place in history as the number one advocate for the rights of girls to an education was assured as she spoke, Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every girl and every boy who have raised their voice for their rights’. The atmosphere was electric.

The Global Campaigners team is one of the most significant outcomes of Sam’s and Millie’s campaign. We are very proud of this group and know that they have left a blazing trail for other winners of the Steve Sinnott award to follow.

Millie and Sam whist in New York were also able to speak with young people who had been plucked from poverty by charities, and given an education. That included Ban Ki-moon, who explained that education is the best way for people to lift themselves out of poverty, and said that as an orphan of the Korean War, he had himself been rescued and educated by the United Nations.

Millie and Sam were able to speak to Philip Parham, UK Ambassador to the UN, who like many MPs they have spoken to welcome the UK's global leadership on international development and aid. Several, such as Desmond Swayne MP commended the Prime Minister for his role co-chairing the UN's High Level Panel on Post-2015 and for the Government's Budget Statement announcement that it will achieve the historic target of spending 0.7% of GNI on international aid this year.

Millie and Sam talk to the All Party Parliamentary Group at Westminster

On Tuesday 9th July, Mark Williams MP and the APPG on Global Education for All hosted an event to celebrate the Send My Friend to School campaign 2013 and this year's theme, "Every Child Needs a Teacher". The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Education for All is a group of parliamentarians from both Houses and all parties, who have come together to support strong UK action on achieving the Education for All goals.

The event, which took place in a packed Jubilee Room off Westminster Hall, saw MPs, Peers, our young campaigners Millie and Sam, government officials and representatives from civil society and the private sector come together to discuss strategies for closing the global trained teacher gap. The event came a few weeks after the UN had published new figures showing that 57 million children of primary school age are still out of school around the world - only a small improvement on the previous year. And that just as progress appears to be stalling, donor aid to basic education had declined for the first time since 2002.

UNESCO estimates that 1.7 million more new teachers need to be recruited to achieve universal primary education by 2015 (nearly 1 million in Sub-Saharan Africa alone). This does not include the 5.1 million teachers who need to be recruited simply to replace those retiring or leaving the profession. In addition to this major global gap, the event also discussed some of the specific challenges facing teachers in developing countries, such as class sizes as high as 150 students to one trained teacher in some countries. Other issues include the inequitable distribution of teachers with fewer, less qualified teachers in poor and rural areas, and the lack of teachers trained in an inclusive approach that supports children with disabilities and other marginalised groups.

Our Send My Friend to School Young Ambassadors, Millie Wells and Sam Whittingham, were invited to speak. Other speakers included Dr Edem Adubra from the International Task Force on Teachers for Education for All and Marg Mayne, Chief Executive of VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) who highlighted the work her organisation was doing to strengthen education systems and teacher training.

Earlier this year, Sam and Millie visited India with Oxfam UK and Oxfam India to see some of the education challenges there for themselves.  They explained that they represent around 500,000 young people from schools around the UK taking part in this year's Send My Friend campaign, who are calling on world leaders to fulfil their promises to education for every child.

Sam and Millie told the audience that they were going straight from this event to New York, where they were due to meet with Malala Yousafzai and hundreds of other young campaigners for a "youth take-over" of the United Nations. On Friday 12th July, Millie and Sam were at the UN General Assembly to see Malala give her first public speech since she was shot last year by the Taliban for her determination to go to school.

The students' report was greeted and reported very enthusiastically by the audience. They posed for photos with many of the MPs in attendance (who were suddenly called to vote in the House of Commons) and after questions and afternoon tea, they departed for Heathrow and New York.  



Desmond Swayne MP

Mr Swayne could not attend the APPG (above). However, he did agree to meet Millie and Sam after the session and the students were pleased to be able to show him some of their photos from Delhi (below)

They were also able to present him with Ringwood's Send My Friend puppets (below) We hope that he will continue to support the Send My Friend to School campaign.

Orangutan Update

We currently sponsor one Chimpanzee through the Jane Goodall Foundation and Bella, a young orangutan at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo. We receive newsletters about Bella's progress through Orangutan Appeal UK, and the most recent is displayed in Lab 4. We support Orangutan Appeal UK as it's a registered charity based in Brockenhurst in the new Forest and their periodic talks such as one this week, allow student participation. Here we learnt that Bella is due for release, so we may sponsor Beryl instead (below).  The charity is dedicated to the rehabilitation and preservation of orangutans and the conservation of their habitat.

The Appeal strives to protect remaining wild populations of orangutans by providing support and funding for projects across Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo; and by raising awareness of the plight of this great ape across the globe.


Honey bees, although still a common insect, have declined significantly in number over the past century. This winter's losses of honey bee colonies were the worst since records began six years ago, according to a survey carried out by the British Beekeepers Association. The number of managed hives in England is also believed to have fallen from 300,000 to 135,000 in the past 60 years.  Urban beekeeping, however, has never been more popular. But instead of providing a helpful solution to the reduced population of honey bees, more city hives could be doing more harm than good. If there are too many colonies in an area, then the food supply will be insufficient. This will mean that colonies do not thrive, and may also affect other species that also visit flowers.

Remember that bees' food supplies come from flowers. We should therefore be encouraging the planting of more wildflowers in our school grounds, our gardens and in public places. Borage, catmint, lavender and wild marjoram are top favourites for bees

A few classes have carried out BUGLIFE's excellent POLLINATOR SURVEY. Full instructions and good identification sheets are available on Buglife's website here.  Why not try this yourself in the school holidays, and submit your results to Buglife?



Stag beetles are Britain’s largest terrestrial beetle, named because the male’s huge jaw-like mandibles look just like a stag’s antlers. The New Forest is a stronghold. We are taking part in Buckets 4 Beetles! This website gives instructions.

If you have found an adult stag beetle you can give them some soft fruit or sugared water and move it out of harm’s way but the best thing is to let them get on and find a mate! If you have found stag beetle larvae please rebury them with some of the wood and soil in a shady undisturbed area. Don’t forget to log your sighting below.

The main threat facing stag beetles is a significant loss of their habitat. Many woodlands were sold for development in the inter-war years and many of our surviving open urban spaces have sadly been developed since then. ‘Tidying up’ of woodlands, parks and gardens has led to the removal of dead or decaying wood habitats which is the stag beetle larvae’s food source. Tree surgery operations such as stump-grinding of felled trees removes a vital habitat for the beetle. So the main way in which you can help is by preserving woody soils and not tidying up too much!

They are also vulnerable to being crushed by traffic or feet so it’s good to get them out of people’s way. And changes in weather patterns are also likely to have an impact. Exceptionally dry or wet weather is likely to substantially affect the larvae, whilst wet and windy weather can inhibit adult beetles’ flying ability.


Morning Gardening Sessions

We have continued gardening throughout this hot dry summer. Enthusiasm amongst Year 7 students is undiminished and we are simply limited by time and teacher availability.

 Despite the weather we have managed good crops of strawberries, very much helped by Phil. Our onions, shallots and garlic are also excellent and some have been given to students in home economics. We are in desperate need of a greenhouse to extend the growing season, and of a shed to protect and store our gardening tools.

Below: Phacelia, one of the bee-attracting plants in our wildlife meadow. An early plant, unfortunately it did not last into July but it DID attract bees!


Love British Food invited UK schools to get involved in a Harvest competition organised by 'Love British Food'.  We’ve now heard we’re amongst the winners so  will get the chance to attend the British Food Fortnight’s special Harvest Festival at Westminster Abbey n the 16th October 2013, where students will rub shoulders with VIPs and a few celebrities. The school had to submit plans to create a Harvest box that celebrates the food produced in our part of the country. The Harvest box will contain fruit and vegetables we have grown ourselves, food students have cooked in class, and a selection of food from local producers in their region.

Well done cooks and growers!


Gardening with Poulner Juniors

When Poulner Junior School asked us to help with their gardening, we happily accepted.  Katy and Sam made and presented a short Powerpoint about gardening at Ringwood, and about our small wildflower meadow. Care for people, the environment and animals is central to Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots cause and we try to share this philosophy wherever possible. here, Katy and Sam shared the problems of Britain's bees with their young and enthusiastic audience. We then gave the children some of our own wildflower seed that we had collected from our meadow in the autumn. We have already given seed to 14 schools but Poulner was happy to accept more.

A good sowing session followed outside, with other students involved in weeding and composting.  We were impressed with Poulner's gardening and would like their students to come and help us!

We are very sorry that Poulner cannot join us on our Education for All Day but have fixed a date at the end of term when Year 6 can join our Global Campaigners for their own session!


A Day at Minstead Study Centre with Burley School

It is always a pleasure to spend a day at Minstead Study Centre. Children of all ages are excited  and often inspired by it, and young children find it quite magical. There is no other place that is as capable of inspiring all students to take certain actions that will make the world a better place for animals, people and the environment (one of our core aims).  This particular visit was very special. Firstly, as one of our 'energy' schools, we knew the children; we have worked with them on several occasions. Indeed students had visited the school two weeks earlier in order to plan the workshops for Minstead. Secondly, we were able to run an Education for All Day and it was a particular pleasure to take some of the Global Campaigners to carry out a 'Send My Teacher to School' workshop.

Millie and Katy gave an introduction to the problems of #education in Delhi, showing the Delhi slides to an appreciative young audience (see top right image). The Global Campaigners then swung into action, showing the children photos of #Malala and other young people with stories to tell. They worked with the Year 6 children to produce 'ideal teacher' puppets, 'ideal' schools and postcard messages.  It was clear that the message had been well understood. The children kept their puppets and promised to send them to Desmond Swayne MP. We were pleased to be able to offer a full length Education for All Day session and our early start meant that students could also run four other workshops around which all children rotated.

Of course, an energy workshop was top of the agenda.  This was a school with which we had already worked with twice. Accounts of those sessions are given elsewhere. On a beautifully sunny summer's day it was appropriate to make sustainable forms of energy a   real focus. This was particularly the case at Minstead where we knew the children were getting training about energy saving! The hydrogen car, smoothie bike and pizza box ovens were a great hit (see images below). 

All enjoyed a Fairtrade session, showing impressive understanding of the Fairtrade concept. Ringwood students also offered a recycling and waste workshop. Ringwood students were able to reinforce the recycling messages the Burley children get at school but were also able to show them how to make a bracelet from recycled sweet wrappers, how to make glue from milk and then use it to make recycled newspaper bags such as those we saw being made by women in Delhi.

Mikayla Howard ran an environmental arts and craft session making leaf prints (below).  Finally students enjoyed a pond dipping session in Minstead's lake-sized wildlife pond!


Finally students enjoyed a pond dipping session in Minstead's lake-sized wildlife pond (below). Ringwood students showed the juniors the techniques of pond dipping and tried to discourage the practice of peering into the net before gently emptying the net contents into a white tray with pond water. Students managed to identify lots of the freshwater invertebrates ('minibeasts' to juniors) and we were pleased to see that the presence of large indicator species such as dragon fly larvae,  suggested the water quality was excellent.


A final highlight was a talk from Davide of Southampton University. Davide runs the new Forest Cicada project and is carrying out research at Southampton University on the New Forest Cicada, an organism that is critically endangered and has not been spotted in the New Forest for 200 years. Davide explained to an attentive audience of Ringwood and Burley students  (below top right) that children are able to hear the cicada's high-pitched noise, whereas adults cannot. He has developed a useful app for smart phones that detects any cicada when in the vicinity, producing a sonogram on a smart phone screen with 30 seconds of monitoring.

Davide had planted 'fake' electronic cicadas in Minstead's grounds, in locations likely to provide habitat - sunny, south facing areas with plenty of shrubs and trees. Sure enough, the Burley youngsters could hear these 'cicadas' well before adults. The smart phones with the app certainly worked, and confirmed the presence of the cicada!  We encouraged all students - both Ringwood and Burley - to be vigilant over the summer: the weather is very promising and we are optimistic that there will be sightings. The 'Cicada Hunt' app can be downloaded from i-tunes and the project website,  is both interesting and highly informative.

To date, no New Forest cicadas (Cicadetta Montana) have been found in this area. The App, however, proved its worth in Davide's recent visit to Slovenia. 

Education for All Day

Our Campaign to Find 1.7 Million Missing Teachers!

Keen to keep up the pressure on world leaders to find enough teachers and get every child into school, we took advantage of the Steve Sinnott Foundation's Education for All Day on 21 June to introduce the 'Send My Friend' campaign to Year 9 students at Ringwood School.

Teachers are the focus for the 2013 - 2014 campaign as the United Nations estimates that there is a global shortage of 1.7 million teachers, with 1 million professional teachers needed in Africa alone. In the year 2000, world leaders made a promise that every child would receive a quality primary education by 2015. However, there are still over 60 million children missing out on even a basic primary education, with millions more struggling to learn in oversized classes and with unqualified teachers.

The Plan for the Day

We were allowed to take all Year 9 students off timetable for various activities, such as making puppets with key messages on what makes a good teacher and a good school. We were able to share our experiences in the Delhi slums this spring. The school also benefitted from a visit from John McLaverty of Oxfam Education, who accompanied us to Delhi.

The day began with a presentation in all tutor groups that ended with 'Turn on the Light', a short film. Year 9 then went to the hall and lessons began for other years.

The school languages department supported the campaign by creating their own puppets. They asked the question, "What makes a good teacher?" to students in other year groups, but here students had to answer in German, French or Spanish. The puppets now adorn the entire length of the languages corridor.

The ladies in the canteen lent got involved in the day by serving Indian food. The Chicken Korma was delicious!

What Makes a Good Teacher?

Year 9 students' views about what makes a good teacher were very different from those of the Delhi students. Top of the Delhi students' lists is that the teachers turn up for lessons - something we take for granted here.

Year 9 students also added their voices by writing letters and a wall of messages. These will be sent to MP Desmond Swayne to pass on to the Prime Minister to remind the UK government of their promise to make sure all children have access to primary education by 2015.

The Global Campaigners

We feel a need to push the Send My Friend campaign to its limits at Ringwood and beyond, and to this end we have been working over the past few weeks with a great group of Year 9 and 10 students who we call the Global Campaigners, and we have shared everything we learnt in Delhi.

We have held weekly meetings and now the Campaigners are really useful in our campaign to get 1.7 million teachers into school. On June 21st, the team of Global Campaigners were able to help us teach the lessons to Year 9. Each campaigner worked in a tutor group looking at case studies supplied by EFA Day, designing 'ideal teacher' puppets and ideal schools, tweeted and wrote to every politician possible.


Knowing that water is a key issue in Delhi (see our photos below) and will become increasingly so, we asked students carry out a audit of their own water use. They then had to calculate how many buckets they would need to carry this much water. Many tested the weight of a water bucket on their head! Below: the importance of water in Madanpur Khadar, Delhi. The water tanker arrives!

Sharing with the Junior Schools

To spread the campaign further, we held a special assembly and workshop sessions for Year 6 students from Ringwood Juniors and Broadstone Middle School who also enjoyed a lunchtime Bollywood session on Ringwood School Radio! We wanted to make sure that as many people as possible get to hear children's stories and the challenges they face in getting a quality education. We visit Burley School tomorrow for a similar exercise, and Poulner School in Ringwood for a workshop near the end of term. Again, we'll be assisted by the Global Campaigners.

Two of our campaigners, Jade Wardle and Amy Whitwham, said: "It was great day. It inspired others and students learnt a great deal. It showed just how lucky we are to live in a country where education is free."



When we heard about Message in a Book, we resolved to give the project a go, little imaging quite how successful it would be!

Below - one student's message to an anonymous book buyer.

The idea is to write a meaningful message in the front on a book, on an Oxfam template, then donate it to the nearest Oxfam shop. Someone who buys the book should read the message and hopefully will be inspired by it themselves. We took as a major focus the eight Millennium Development Goals. Given the work we were doing on MDG 2 (see below) and MDG 3, this seemed appropriate. Interested students came to an early morning session where key students were able to deliver messages such as , "What ARE the eight Millennium Goals?" 

Students (shown above) then went back to their tutor groups where they encourages students in the groups to follow suit.

Year 8 made a major effort with every tutor group contributing. We ended up with about 150 donated books, each with its own message. We invited the brand new manageress of Oxfam (on her first day in post) to collect the books! We made her a poster to explain our actions and she mounted a huge window display of students' messages as well as selling the books.

Below: a poster for Oxfam

This  highly successful campaign was a real 'care in the community' action and is one which we will definitely replicate!



When Green Flag 4 arrived, all older students had left school for study leave. We therefore had a very modest celebration in the Jubilee Garden with those present for the Message In a Book campaign and some of our Year 7 gardeners. The event was well reported by the Bournemouth Echo.

Green students at Ringwood School

We were very pleased to hear that we are an Ambassador Eco-School too but we have not yet received the special flag and plaque.

We heard on May 1st that we are top of the league; a Green Flag AMBASSADOR Eco-School, a status awarded to very few in the country. It means we’re one of the very best, but it also means we have a job to do as ambassadors of Eco-Schools UK. Several months have passed since our assessment but we know that the assessors were really impressed by the strength of leadership throughout the group and particularly amongst students.   

The leadership of the older students was described as inspirational. The way in which younger students were encouraged to join in with activities and slowly take on leadership responsibilities themselves, whilst learning and having fun, was described as excellent. Students’ relationships within the groups that frequently cross the year groups were described by our assessor as a unique strength.  Ambassador Schools have all been given a specialism. Ours is Inspirational Leadership: Pupil leadership for Secondary age pupils’



We saw some of them in India, often desperate for education.  Hundreds of millions more are not learning

There are 969 days until we conquer the Millennium Development Challenge or getting all children a primary education. It sounds like a long way away, but it's not. The global  education community needs everyone's  help to keep education in the public eye every one of those 969 days if we want to see real change.


When Young Ambassadors, Millie and Sam visited Delhi they were repeatedly struck by the friendliness of the young people they met, whether at the Josh Project, the YP Project or EFRAH. All three groups seek to empower young people in different ways.  Millie and Sam wanted to make a small donation on behalf of Ringwood School as a gesture of solidarity and to show appreciation for the warmth of the welcome.  It was agreed that something that would benefit girls who drop out of education with frightening frequency would be appropriate.

We have now heard that the Josh project has bought three carrom boards for the Youth Resource Centre and the girls of the Minority Resource Centre. The students are enjoying playing with the boards and they have also become a source of enjoyment for the Josh volunteers. Chandni a volunteer at JOSH has shared with us that she hadn’t played the carrom board in her life before this but that she has learnt quickly and enjoys it a lot

Josh purchased the carrom boards because we learnt in our discussions that this game brings people closer and encourages conversation, and that it is particularly enjoyed by girls.  

Kekhasa, a girl student at the Minority Resource Centre says she often sees boys playing cricket and badminton in the streets. Her parents allow her brother to play these games but that she is not allowed out. This often makes her feel depressed. She tells us that the new carrom boards have provided some joy because they give her time to play and also to have a chat with the other girls. 

The centre is now forming a carrom club and we are really pleased to have enhanced the experiences of those at the centre. We are so pleased to have these photographs and delighted to be able to display them. We hope that the young JOSH students will tell us the rules of the game



Jason Bridges of Liberty's visited us a few weeks ago with four birds. This was an inspiring visit from which students learnt a great deal. He has been collecting owl pellets for us in the intervening weeks. Students enjoyed exploring the contents of the pellets which obviously depend on its diet. Our pellets included  bones, stones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, and teeth. Students were surprised to find not only chick skeletons but skeletons of small rodents too!

There is excellent information about the pellets regurgitated by birds of prey here.


Mini marchers gathered outside Ringwood School demanding a change for our broken food system and a fair deal for smallholder farmers. They told students how Fairtrade can save smallholder farmers from real poverty. These farmers produce our staple crops like coffee, sugar, tea and cocoa. Mini marchers then asked students to sign a petition urging David Cameron to take action for smallholder farmers at the forthcoming G8 in Northern Ireland.

Mini marchers gathering outside Ringwood School

Not content with this, mini marchers suggested students watched a short film about the plight of cotton farmers in India. They told students that the biggest cotton producer in the world is the US and that when cotton prices fall, the US subsidises its farmers. Indian farmers don't gain this protection. When prices fall, these poor farmers have no income. they are committing suicide at the fastest rate in history. The film the mini marchers asked students to watch is here.

Below left: mini marchers are called to action by their leader. Banners in place, they assemble outside school. They stomp their feet and march off to encourage others in Ringwood to follow their lead

Mini marchers are off, knocking each other over in a rush to tell others to take action


The first groups of mini marchers hi-jacked their own sixth form student and took themselves to Ringwood Juniors. Although the school is little more than a mile away as the crow flies, this was as far as their tiny legs could manage. They posed for a few photos before marching straight into the school.

Next, it was the protest march to Burley. Cleverly the mini marchers managed to persuade students that they needed to be taken by minibus. Their arguments were so convincing that one student was convinced that they needed their own step ladder to get into the bus and out again.  The photo shows their arrival at Burley and the emergence of a leader who commanded the mini marchers to follow her into the school. Once inside the door, they made themselves comfortable, posed for a few photos and then settled in the book corner with three students who read them a story while the rested their tired, aching feet.

Find out more about the campaign here and download your own petition form here.


To the great delight of countless students, five baby chaffinches made themselves heard this week. One had fledged by the time this photo had been taken.

We also have a second brood in our sparrow lodge outside chemistry, several sparrow nests in the pyracantha and a new dove nest (with ONE baby) in one of the trees. Like this chaffinch nest, it is in a very public area where it goes un-noticed by all but the keenest students!




Surprisingly, Ringwood and Tiptoe School students managed ELEVEN with ease!

When Ringwood energy students ran a workshop for Tiptoe children, Dan Fish brought along his GWiz. 

Dan, described as 'Britain's greenest pensioner' not only owns the petite electric car, but he powers it ONLY with electricity that he generates himself from the photovoltaic cells on the roof of his bungalow in Bashley. Dan was also keen to show children his hand tools, making the point that fuel and electricity are not always needed! The GWiz therefore brought a trailer too.

Below left, Dan with the GWiz and Ringwood and Tiptoe students


Ringwood students in Years 8, 9 and 10 gave an entertaining play for the benefit of the youngsters who were invited to interview the Ringwood 'villagers' about the energy guzzling or saving habits. They were surprisingly astute in their calculations, rightly guessing 'businesswoman' Sam with her liking for private jets and constant holidays had an appalling carbon footprint. Likewise, 'green activist' Katy and 'hippie' Rosie divided the Tiptoe children's votes for the lowest count! Those in between proved far more challenging to pin down.

When Tiptoe children were invited to brainstorm energy saving ideas with their new-found older peers and the evidence was clear: they had learnt a great deal.

All children were given the opportunity to handle the thermal imaging camera that we had used in early spring to detect energy losses from the school buildings. The school has been given the images and this, along with a Hampshire County Council full energy audit, should give the school a firm foundation on which to build. The camera was supplied with the help of a grant from the Sustainable Development Fund of the New Forest National Park, and Tiptoe is the third school with which we have used it.



We were lucky enough to have a visit from Jason Bridges of Liberty’s reptiles and raptors, during a Friday morning wildlife session. We were even more privileged to benefit from his choice of bird. First out of the box was a beautiful English tawny owl, the owl students were most likely to have seen or heard. Indeed Archie was particularly vocal in his box!

Next appeared a superb kestrel. This bird may be seen over fields and roadsides as when hunting, the Kestrel hovers about 10–20 m above the ground, searching for prey. We learnt that In addition to having exceptionally good eyesight, Kestrels can also see ultra-violet light. This is useful in locating voles because they leave a trail of urine wherever they go and the urine glows in ultra-violet light!

A Little Owl charmed the students, who heard that this bird prefers open country such as mixed farmland and parkland, although it will also nest in buildings. It takes a variety of animals from insects, earthworms and amphibians to small birds and mammals as prey. We learnt it is largely diurnal and often perches boldly and prominently during the day.

Last to appear was a bird guaranteed to enchant: a young Indian Rocky Eagle Owl that had been hand raised by Jason from an egg. This beautiful owlet, looking like a teddy bear, was allowed to walk around the desks, to the great delight of the students.

We learnt a great deal of good biology from Jason. He went into great detail about owls’ eyes.  Owls have their eyes set in the front of the face. Their eyes are very large in comparison to their head, and instead of being round like ours, are pear-shaped. What we see is the small part of the eye. The biggest part at the back of the eye has a lot of room for the special light-receiving rods in the retina. This allows the owl to see well in low light conditions.

Because of the shape of the eye, their eyes are fixed in the skull and cannot move up or down or side to side. This of course makes the owl at risk to attacks from behind, but a special neck mechanism allows the head to turn around very quickly, and almost upside-down. It is able to achieve this by having a long and very flexible neck, which is not always apparent, as it is hidden by feathers and the Owl's posture.

As most owls are active at night, their eyes must be very efficient at collecting and processing light. This starts with a large cornea (the transparent outer coating of the eye) and pupil (the opening at the centre of the eye). The pupil's size is controlled by the iris (the coloured membrane suspended between the cornea and lens). When the pupil is larger, more light passes through the lens and onto the large retina (light sensitive tissue. on which Jason  explained that an owl’s eye colour can give some indication as to its activity time. An owl with very dark eyes is normally active at night (nocturnal), an owl with yellow eyes is active during the day (diurnal), and an owl with orange eyes is active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular). This suggests that the tawny owl is nocturnal and the baby Indian rock eagle owl is crepuscular. The little owl is unusual amongst the owl family in that it is diurnal.

One student asked a very good question, “Can an owl turn its head around through 360o?   We learnt that an owl's neck has 14 vertebrae, which is twice as many as humans. This allows the owl to turn its head through a range of 270 degrees measured from a forward facing position. So it cannot turn its head around through 360o!

This was a superb visit and we are enormously grateful to both Linda Bridges and to Jason for providing such an informative and entertaining morning.




Having carried out thermal imaging at both Morgan's' Vale and Burley Schools, and with Tiptoe yet to come, some of our students were well acquainted with the state of the art thermal imaging camera that was loaned from New Forest Transition and funded by the New Forest National Parks Sustainable Development Fund. Images below show some of the key players in the energy team using the camera to spot energy losses.

A thermal imaging survey of the building fabric is an excellent way of identifying defects including thermal bridges, discontinuity of insulation and air leakage paths.  We chose a cold March morning to survey our own school. There was plenty of choice!  We also wanted a DULL morning because direct and diffuse sunlight warms surfaces distorting readings. Students were able to use the thermal imaging camera throughout the school. Indoors they found unlagged pipes throughout the school: they appeared white on the image showing a temperature of 70oC and more!  Most of these were near the ceiling meaning that not just was heat loss excessive, but most of the heat was near the ceiling! They found that the tops of the flat roofs viewed from the outside were hot, and the automatic doors were letting the cold air fly in, chilling interior surfaces.  The skylights on the flat roofs were also a source of heat loss. They were waterproof but not air tight.


The worst culprits overall were the temporary classrooms (the 'huts'). Students spent lots of time surveying these buildings.

Particularly interesting evidence came from the image to the right  which shows that the left hand classroom's heating was not on but the right hand classroom's was running full blast, and most of that heat was being immediately transferred to the walls and windows of the building, then lost to the outside world.

The Geography building likewise proved interesting. The new double glazed entrance appeared well insulated but both the flimsy walls and the windows of this building proved great heat emitters. This was the case on all sides of the building. As shown, the downstairs rooms were real sources of heat loss.

Thermal imaging is a complex subject and requires a good understanding of science to interpret images. Our students have learnt a great deal from the process already.

A complete handbook for our FLIR camera can be downloaded here.



Millie and Sam presented the result of their fact finding Delhi tour to delegates at the National Union of Teachers annual conference held in Liverpool on Easter Saturday. This is how the event was reported in the Southern Echo

It was a speech that gained the respect and applause from hundreds of teachers across the country.

But surprisingly it was given by two Hampshire students aged just 15 at the National Union of Teachers conference.  Millie Wells and Sam Whittingham from Ringwood School were the first ever Young Ambassadors to gain a standing ovation. They spoke about how children abroad have the same rights to education as young people in the UK.

The cause is close to both of their hearts, as they visited India as part of the Send My Friend to School Campaign where they witnessed the inequalities of education facing children in India.

The Send My Friend to School campaign aims to get thousands of children across the UK to speak up for the right to education and remind world leaders of their promise that all children should get their chance to go to school. Please sign up at

Speaking after the conference, Millie, 15, said: “We hope the teachers gained a different perspective on teaching and the challenges facing some education systems abroad. The audience at the conference were really engaged with what we were saying and we hope they will sign their schools up to the campaign.”

During their speech Millie and Sam showed a short video made by Oxfam during their Delhi exposure tour. The link to it in Vimeo is here.

Left: Millie and Sam with Sophia Ireland (Oxfam) and Samidha Garg (NUT).   Centre:standing ovation begins.     Right: outside the Liverpool conference centre

Follow Millie's and Sam's BLOG here



The text below is a transcript of Millie's and Sam's speech that they gave at the National Union of Teachers conference at Easter. It is the Young Ambassadors' first-hand account of their visit

Good afternoon. My name is Millie and mine is Sam we are the Young Ambassadors for the Global Campaign for Education. We are here to talk to you about our extraordinary fact finding mission To India.

We entered the Steve Sinnott Award as we wanted to be a voice for children around the world who struggle to get heard in their wish for an education. We realise how lucky we are to have the opportunities that a UK education gives you. The idea that where you are born can all too often dictate the chances you have in life concerns us. As a child I am no different from any child whether there from India Africa or the UK; we are all children who should have the equal right for an education, a start in life. Everyone is born with talents and without education many of these are not discovered. Education is the way forward as it not only gives you essential knowledge but `gives you wings` to make the most of life’s opportunities.

In February we travelled to New Delhi in India with Oxfam UK. We were accompanied by our teacher, Gill Hickman, by Samidha from the NUT (one of the major sponsors of 'Send My Friend' and by David Levene and Rachel Williams from The Guardian, and we were hosted by Oxfam India. The video you are about to see shows you what we saw on our fact finding mission in New Delhi, the barriers to education we observed and the challenges that India is having in getting primary education for all.

Our visit to India was an extraordinary, life changing experience which will never be forgotten. We met some fantastic people who really touched us with their kindness and hospitality,

Universal primary education by 2015 was a millennium development goal but that goal looks as if it will be missed by a considerable margin. And in 2009 India’s Right to Education Act was passed giving a free and compulsory education for all children aged between 6 and 14. The challenge now is and will continue to be, delivering on the promises.

 "JOSH’s highly motivated young people told us that teacher/student  ratios of 1:80 were more the norm, and we heard that teachers frequently failed to turn up for classes."

Our visit gave us a real awareness of the challenges faced within New Delhi. There was a real will for change within the communities and an urgent demand for education. Our Ambassador status first took us to the ‘JOSH’ Youth Resource Centre. JOSH aims to empower youngsters and works towards effective implementation of India’s (RTE) Act. JOSH’s highly motivated young people told us that teacher/student  ratios of 1:80 were more the norm, and we heard that that teachers frequently failed to turn up for classes. School hygiene and sanitation were a priority but rarely achieved; drinking water is filthy and 30% of schools have no roof. These students were desperate to learn English.

The EFRAH project (Empowerment for Rehabilitation, Academic and Health) truly shone out amidst shocking poverty,. We visited EFRAH’s office in Madanpur Khadar, a slum clearance area and an Oxfam resettlement colony. We learnt that there are private schools and different types of government schools.  Funding and teacher quality are variable. We heard important information about how many girls are out of school: 50% of girls drop out by 5th standard (equivalent to our year 5) 67% by 7th and 70% by 10th standard.

"Children sat on the floor writing on their laps, one cradling her two year-old sleeping brother. There was no-one  lse to look after him."

The squalor of the Madanpur Khadar slums made life difficult yet the girls we met were proud of their appearance and beautifully dressed. 90% of the homes had no toilet and open sewers held piles of foul-smelling detritus in which cattle and pigs foraged. Here, where  EFRAH’s schemes help the entire community, Alok Thakur, the programme manager took us to a government primary school where resources were sparse. Classes were overcrowded; there were no toilets and no electricity; children sat on the floor writing on their laps, one cradling her two year-old sleeping brother. There was no-one else to look after him. We joined Year 5 English and maths classes where in a trigonometry lesson, children hung onto the teacher’s every word.

Again we heard that toilets were a problem. They were often locked for teachers’ use only. Gulashan said she had never used the utterly disgusting toilets in her school. Most schools also lacked clean water. Just 5% of government schools comply with all the basic standards for infrastructure set by the Education Act. We saw all these issues at first hand at the schools we visited.

"One tragic story that hit us hard concerns a girl who didn’t want us to use her name. She was taunted for boys in this way and having been pulled out of school by her parents she is to be married at 16 and it’s doubtful whether she will return to education."

EFRAH also runs an Adolescent Girls Awareness Group that empowers girls to deal with specific problems, particularly sexual harassment.  Girls suffer from such harassment on their journeys to and from school. Families then regard this as a loss of honour and pull girls out of school.  One tragic story that hit us hard concerns a girl who didn’t want us to use her name. She was taunted for boys in this way and having been pulled out of school by her parents she is to be married at 16 and it’s doubtful whether she will return to education.  EFRAH helps these girls, suggesting ways to make it easier for them to tell their parents as well as helping the parents come to terms with what has been happening.  All those we met were desperate to continue with their education.

To combat sexual harassment EFRAH tries to change the perception of the male culprits by asking questions like “Do you want to marry an educated woman?” to which they reply, “Yes.” They pose the next question, “How do you expect the women to get educated if they can’t get to school as you are harassing them?”

Millie spent time talking to individual girls, learning their horrific stories while Sam worked on a puppet-making activity where girls wrote on paper puppets to describe their ideal teacher. Others focussed on their ideal school.  

GIrls suggested that their teachers should always be there in lessons and should never be on their phones! They asked that teachers talked to them sometimes and  said their learning could be improved by having smaller class sizes, again citing huge numbers of children in a  single class, with students sometimes having to sit outside as they couldn’t fit in the classroom. Above all, they asked for improved sanitation – a decent toilet to use at school and water fit to drink.

The number of teachers and the quality of teaching was perhaps the most significant challenge we encountered. Meeting with the All India Primary Teachers’ Federation, and the Coordinator of National Coalition for Education and the Global Campaign for Education in India, proved interesting. We heard that that India alone needs over 1 million more teachers to obtain the ratio of 1:35 students required in the RTE Act. This highlights the importance of this year’s focus of the Send My Friend to School Campaign ‘Every child needs a teacher’.

The YP project helps children from the poorest of urban slum communities. The YP foundation trains students of university age as peer educators; they are articulate, savvy and well connected.  We visited a slum community that lay a few hundred metres from a major tourist attraction – Humayun’s Tomb – but was completely hidden from view. Students entered the community from four entrances so the children can see them coming and usually engage youngsters by playing a little game to get everybody involved. This builds trust and friendship between the peer educators and the children, issues that are a major barrier. A game will be fun but usually involves a deeper meaning at the end, such as the need to work together

The YP project teaches children life skills that help increase their memory, concentration and health awareness. YP educators teach how to be against STI’s like HIV/AIDS, and they build on the skills needed to get out of poverty such as ICT skills that may help some to get an office job.  They aim to empower, helping people gain documents and identification to, for instance, register for school, thus raising awareness of children’s rights to education  and letting people realise their rights to take up the 25% of places reserved for children from economically worse settlements.

YP’s peer educators were the some of the most inspiring people that we have ever met. Although most had a good life and full education, they didn’t  just sit back enjoying their university  ducation: they realised that they were privileged and wanted to bring about change so everybody could have an equal chance. All said they’d gained a new perspective on life: whilst teaching the children they are always learning themselves.

  "We were struck by their strength and courage. Although often uneducated, these women and girls were articulate, courageous and presented their point of view through their compelling and deeply personal testimonies."

The Delhi Committee on Protection of Child Rights looks into a community’s complaints relating to child justice, health and education. At an official meeting, we raised questions about the issue of failing schools and the position of girls and then attended a public hearing where the community aired their complaints about the colony to a panel of experts. Meena from the adolescent girls’ group gave an impassioned account of problems with class sizes, and dreadful insanitary conditions. Other complainants included women worried about sexual harassment, security, health and lack of support for extremely needy relatives. We were struck by their strength and courage. Although often uneducated, these women and girls were articulate, courageous and presented their point of view through their compelling and deeply personal testimonies.

We both gave evidence on behalf of the girls at the public hearing. As a result, people’s grievances now go further. The Young Ambassadors, through their exemplary actions, achieved huge momentum in their relationships with the Indian partners and young people, and at this point it was clear we made a difference. We know that our year’s tenure will let us make further progress.

NUT SPEECH continues ...

Teachers and educators, please put your hand up if, after 20 days training, you feel you could teach a class of up to 80 children cramped in a small classroom in the boiling heat with a fan which doesn’t work. We should say that you may have another class you are supposed to be teaching at the same time so you might be in charge of over 160 children at one time. On top of that some of the children don’t speak the language as you. I see none of you have put your hands up but this is the reality for many of the teachers in India.

The Indian government currently spends only 3.7% of its GDP on education whereas the UK spend 8%. If India has been upgraded from a”poor" country to a middle-income one, why is money allocated to education not spent?  The Indian government can afford a metro and international airport in Delhi, and a defence programme but does not allocate money to education. Neither does it fairly distribute the money to all schools. We visited two schools within the same local government programme but with vastly different standards. This is not right.

We feel privileged to have had the opportunity that few others get, actually meeting community members, visiting schools and meeting organisations that help to get more children into education. We would like to thank all the those who have helped us on the way and the NUT, GCE UK, Oxfam India and Oxfam GB for giving us all this once in a lifetime opportunity. Equally we feel hugely indebted to the young people of JOSH, EFRAH and YP. The warmth of the welcome we received from them and from their organisers and sometimes their parents was unforgettable. We are left with the view that every single student at Ringwood, and probably in the UK, would benefit from this life-changing experience.

We want to create hope for a better future for all young people across the world so if you are a teacher, we urge you to sign your school up for Send My Friend 2013. Every child can receive a good education if the political will is there and the needs of the poorest are not overlooked.

Images in this article are  David Levene's and Gill Hickman's. We are grateful to the Guardian for giving us permission to use David's photos. Rachel Williams of The Guardian picked up the very topical issue of girls who drop out of education through sexual harassment. Her article for the Guardian is here.




This event ended Fairtrade Fortnight. It is not connected to the marketplace activities but the account was written by a student. On a very dull Monday in March, seven students visited Southampton’s famous St. Mary’s stadium. When we arrived we were given a tour by Peter, one of the lovely staff. He showed us most of the ‘ins and the outs’ of the stadium.  We then had a talk from a man called Henry from Malawi who had come over to talk to school and groups of students in the UK to tell explain how Fairtrade helps him. He taught us about how the sugar farm that he set up operates and the processing that is carried out before export. We even learnt that some of the sugar you will find in food in the Co-operative comes from Henry’s sugar farm! At the end of the presentation students had the opportunity to present Henry and his friend from Malawi a Southampton football shirt signed by all the players on the Southampton football team.  Koolskools, who make our Fairtrade polo shirt, had invited Ringwood students for this presentation. They had made a logo for Henry’s local football club and presented Henry with a strip for the entire team back in Malawi.  Henry said that he couldn’t wait to show the children back home the new kit. “The Southampton stadium was brilliant, I wish we had more time to stay there!” said Sam.

Katy added, “It was all brilliant, but meeting Henry and his friend and learning about his background was particularly interesting – I really enjoyed finding out about how what we do helps people in other countries.  The experience was amazing, and we are all planning to keep in touch with Henry to see how Fairtrade helps him even more in the future.”


Wear Fair 2013 was sponsored by the Co-operative and their generosity allowed us to run a raffle and to serve a good range of refreshments including Fairtrade wine. We were also pleased to accept help from the community and in particular, the Friends of Ringwood Parish Church who helped with the organisation of the clothes. We were pleased to welcome the mayor and Mayoress of Ringwood and the Headteacher, staff and students of Burley School. Comperes Robbie and Rosie provided an entertaining commentary as staff and students strutted their stuff.

A very busy Fairtrade marketplace was supported by local firms such as Timber and KoolSkools and this gave a welcome extension to the evening. Drinks and snacks were provided by the Co-operative.

The photos reflect Ringwood students' passion for Fairtrade and are a good illustration of the great atmosphere students of every year group managed to create. Our labels for Wear Fair 2013 included Nomads, People and Planet, Traidcraft, Bishopston and Sainsbury.  Koolskools brought along the world's first Fairtrade blazer, beautifully modelled by Callum below! We are really grateful to all our suppliers for lending clothes in these hard economic times.

Well done to all - the excellent BTEC helpers, the staff, the models, the Burley children, those who helped backstage, with music in the school foyer or with refreshments, clearing up and setting out. 


As part of Fairtrade Fortnight we had a Friday evening cake bake with baking sponsored by Sainsbury and Waitrose. Students made a variety of goodies - chocolate cakes, Viennese whirls, banana cake, chocolate brownies, lemon drizzle cake and more. Members of staff also baked cakes.

As part of the drive to make Ringwood a Fairtrade town, the school had two stalls outside the Gateway building at the town's Fairtrade market. Cakes and cookies were sold on one and Fairtrade hot chocolate sponsored by Sainsbury's on the other. Other stalls were taken by Timber, the Fairtrade steering group and Brockenhurst College. The event yielded an unexpected profit over over £100 and this money will ensure that the steering group can buy such essential items as table cloths. 

Below: Setting up early Saturday morning


Nuala, Sam and Katy gave a first class interview on FOREST FM in the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight. They were able to speak with knowledge, understanding and real conviction about Fairtrade at the school. They chose appropriate music, and were also able to advertise Saturday's market event.



We have now seen the very end of last year's wildflower meadow for bees. We donated the remaining stems to Minstead Study Centre as removing and collecting seeds is a good learning activity for children and the centre works with large numbers of children from many schools!  We have also donated seeds to fourteen different local schools. It was therefore a great pleasure to offer our remaining few seeds to our own students, and making seed bombs was our final fun activity.

The bombs are designed to be thrown into areas where wild flowers would make an improvement. It's taken seriously as this website illustrates

We used local clay to make the 'classic clay and compost' bomb



Morgan's Vale School was the first of our group of energy schools to receive an energy audit from Wiltshire County Council. We moved in with our thermal imaging camera at the end of January and looked at heat losses over the entire school. We were delighted to be able to show most of the older children how the camera worked. Our findings were predictable - the old part of the school showed significantly higher losses than the newer part, and the library, used for music tuition on a Tuesday afternoon, glowed red under the thermal imaging camera. We, together with the school are producing a report with recommendations for the Headteacher.

We also spent an evening at Minstead with Morgan's Vale, working through a role play on energy awareness. This was a great session, much enjoyed by 16 Ringwood students and, it appeared, the entire student body of Morgan's Vale! 

Above: Ringwood students get into role as unlikely characters in a village. There were rock stars, vicars, housewives, green activists, business women and more - much to the delight of Morgans Vale children! The youngsters had to interview the Ringwood students and work out the biggest energy guzzlers.



Millie and Sam have heard that they have won the Steve Sinnott Award for their Send My Friend to School campaign. They are now UK Young Ambassadors for Send My friend and have a packed year ahead of them. The first event is a visit to Delhi in India at half term, working with their counterparts in India, with Oxfam India and above all, with children and their families unable to go to school. They will be visiting slum areas and slum clearance areas, in addition to getting a little sightseeing. Details are here. Well done to Millie and Sam. Well done to the school as every tutor group contributed to this.

Above left: presenting the school's model to Stephen O Brien, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State in the Department for International Development.. Right: Millie and Sam at Oxfam.

With the Desmond Swayne MP at No 10


Our energy work with Burley school began with Katy, Sam and Isaac having a short planning meeting before Christmas (see photo below left). Students discovered that the Burley children have an interest in Fairtrade too.  Work started in earnest with a lunchtime session. The juniors enjoyed an assembly given by five Ringwood students (photo below right), while the infants enjoyed an energy workshop with six more of our students acting as explainers at work stations.

More work will follow in March.

Thanks energy group!




Eight members of the Fairtrade group, all representatives of the school in the Ringwood Fairtrade steering group, served Fairtrade hot chocolate supplied by Sainsbury's  to grateful passers by. The first occasion, when the weather was appalling, marked the opening of late night shopping in The Furlong. The second evening was cold and frosty, and it coincided with Santa's arrival in town.



Love animals? Should you EAT them?

Tom Davies and Ed Kleszcz mounted a very strong defence of meat-eating in our Friday debate. Arguments ranged from the adaptations of the human gut and dentition to meat eating, to nomadism! Robbie Shaw and Ellie Bowen put up a brave defence of vegetarianism on both moral and ecological grounds. They argues that there will not be enough food to feed the 9 billion people in the world expected by 2050, unless we substantially eat less meat protein and more plant protein. This argument did not convince younger children, many of whom thought animals could be kept at the expense of plants.

Maybe most students in the large audience drawn from all years, were already committed to meat eating, but nevertheless, it was with strong and persuasive arguments that Tom and Ed won the hearts and minds of the debaters. At the end of this early morning  debate, the overwhelmeing majority voted against the motion that we should all eat less meat. Meat eating lives!

Well done to all, especially those who proposed and opposed the motion. In the true spirit of debating, sevarl of these students presented cogent arguments for a view that they did not share!  


Our wildflower meadow continues to be a source of inspiration. We have now cut down most of the flowers and dried them completely. The photo shows students shaking and sieving several thousand seeds out of the dried seed pods ready for next year's sowing. Some will be packaged for sale.



AS PART OF SWITCH OFF FORTNIGHT We have set up a special recycling bank and we can now offically recycle LAMPS, including those 'hard to dispose of' fluorescents, and compact fluorescents

Low energy light bulbs use up to 80% less energy than old fashioned bulbs, but to do so they need a small amount of mercury which is why they can't be thrown away in your bin. In recycling them we protect the environment, and the mercury, glass and metal can be reused. 

Ringwood School is now an official collection point for school and community.   Please note the following:

  1.  The Hazardous Waste Regulations require all types of hazardous wastes to be stored separately so our new Recolight containers store all gas discharge lamps, and no other type of waste. They are sited in the RECYCLING AREA near the site manager’s office.

  2. As there must be no unauthorised access to the containers, they will only be available during school opening hours.  Please report to RECEPTION or to one of the SITE TEAM between 8.00am – 4.45pm. 

  3. The site team will be available until 5.30pm

  4. We cannot accept broken lamps as they pose a risk children and adults on our site

       The materials recovered from the various processes used in the industry can be used in a number of different ways. The lamp phosphor powders can be recovered and re-used to make new lamps; the mercury collected, when purified can also be used to make new lamps and in other industrial processes. The crushed glass can be mixed with a new glass melt for a variety of applications, from furnace linings to making new lamps. Recolight’s educational programme, the Big Light Project, is designed to improve youngsters’ understanding of the differences between compact fluorescent lamps and traditional incandescent light bulbs. A key message is to communicate why CFLs should be recycled and not disposed of with domestic waste.    We think it is important to teach children about the need to recycle low-energy light-bulbs as it encourages these messages back into the home. Furthermore, children are the ones who, in the coming years, will be buying and recycling them once traditional bulbs are completely phased out.  The Big Light Project brings home the simple ideas about light and recycling in a number of engaging ways while communicating serious messages about the environment, energy efficiency and climate change.  



Ringwood School has signed up to this important energy saving challenge that's sponsored by EDF, the energy company. A Switch-off Fortnight Powerpoint presentation can be downloaded here. It should  get people thinking! 



A group of Year 7 and 8 students spent a very happy hour after school with Mrs Waine making chocolate chip shortbread. Students were helped by staff from The Hive and by Robbie Shaw (Year 12) and Sam Kimberley and Katy Barrett (Year 10)  They used Fairtrade ingredients supplied by Sainsbury's in Ringwood for which everyone was extremely grateful. 


With Children in Need following the next day (Friday Nov 16th), students donated most of their biscuits to a coffee morning with a cake and cookie sale being organised by Mrs Waine. However, everyone was given a Pudsey bag and a Fairtrade flag so that they could take a few to share with those at home.



To celebrate Her Majesty The Queen's historic 2012 Diamond Jubilee, the Woodland Trust is helping millions of people across the UK to plant 6 million trees. We were delighted to be involved in the Woodland Trust's Tree Planting Challenge, and pleased to be able to have one more chance in 2012 to mark this special moment in history. 


It is some time since we had a Big Dig at Ringwood so this was a new experience for these Eco Reps who were pleased to take part in a planting session on a chilly October morning. Sixty small holly, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, dog rose and beech saplings were planted in half an hour. We know we have 'done our bit' for the Jubilee Woods campaign, and we hope we have also improved the biodiversity of our grounds.



World leaders made a promise to educate every child by 2015. With three years left, the Send My Friend to School Campaign asks for help in sending 67 million children to school. 

The 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games offered athletes from every country the chance to test their abilities in hundreds of sporting events. Every child should have the opportunity to achieve all that they can, and education is key to that; hence the 2012 campaign was GOING FOR GOLD  Inspired by this and by the astonishing example of Malala Yousafzai, the young girls' education campaigner who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while returning home from school in Pakistan, Year 10 students Millie Wells and Sam Whittingham rose to the challenge.

They launched a Send My Friend to School campaign at Ringwood, one that would touch everyone.  Using film footage of Malala and the excellent resources from the 'Send My Friend' campaign they created a presentation that reached every student in this big school. They took assemblies and where that wasn't possible, tutors showed and talked through the presentation with their tutor groups. groups.                                             

Sam and Millie considered how students could show their understanding of the issue and pledge their support. Ideas such as mass crowds on the field, or lines of paper dolls, each made by individual students, were dismissed as memorable but difficult and not the best means of showing support. Messages went out on the school's 'Week Ahead' to all tutor groups, and hearing about the petition in support of the Nobel Peace prize for Malala, all students were encouraged to sign the petition online, and were offered the opportunity of wearing a 'Send My Friend' badge of support. The petition is here.

Millie and Sam then asked every tutor group in the school to discuss the issue and to make a doll in gold coloured card. To show global support for the campaign, each tutor group was assigned a country. On one side of their card they drew the country's flag and on the other they wrote a message of support. Gold dolls from every tutor group were neatly stacked against wooden figures carved by Millie's brother and they were arranged around a large globe. Thus the views of the whole school could be neatly collated. The dolls can be, and currently are, unleashed and displayed, hands joined, for all to read.

The next move was to consider the most effective means of getting the school's 'Send My Friend' message out into the wider world, and to arrange an effective display of students' work. Millie and Sam invited our MP, Desmond Swayne, who represents New Forest West, into school to hear of his views about education for all in a formal interview. They were delighted when he accepted the invitation at very short notice, and were thrilled to hear Mr Swayne pledge his support and that of his party. Indeed, he said, there was cross party consensus on the importance of the issue. Sending all children to school was a Millennium Development Goal and he said, this is something he was passionate about. He then shared his experiences of working in Ruanda a few years ago, describing very vividly the impact that education had on girls.

On the day that Justine Greening announced that UK aid was to be cut to India (as the students reminded him), and on the day before the global day of action for girls' eduction, Mr Swayne said that he would take the issue to Westminster and agreed to try and arrange for Millie and Sam to meet Ms Greening or members of  her team. And - it might be appropriate to take and present their model.   He was delighted to be associated with the campaign and welcomed its publicity in local papers.

The model meanwhile, is the centrepiece of a prominent display in school, with the gold dolls unleashed from their wooden support and symbolically joining hands for all to see. The children's messages could not be more prominent. Neither could the message from Desmond Swayne himself because Millie and Sam immediately invited him to draw the flag of Ruanda on his own gold doll and write a message of personal support (see below).

Millie's and Sam's campaign has been a real success and they both deserve our congratulations. Their campaign has been reported in the local press and has raised the awareness of members of the public; it has the guaranteed backing of our local MP who has pledged to discuss this in Westminster, and the campaign has touched every student and member of staff in the school.  



Saturday November 10th   was declared a global day of action in Malala's name aimed at getting school places for 32 millions girls around the world who are not attending classes.. It marks exactly one month since the 15-year-old was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she travelled home from school with two classmates in north-west Pakistan. The UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown visited Islamabad to discuss ways of getting Pakistani girls currently out of school into the education system. He delivered simple messages in the form of a petition from the ‘I am Malala’ website to the Pakistan authorities on a global day of action for girls' education:  These were the demands:

  • We call on Pakistan to agree a plan to deliver education for every child
  • We call on all countries to outlaw discrimination against girls
  • We call on international organizations to ensure the world’s 61 million out of school children are in education by the end of 2015


Good news!

Last May students ran a campaign to help the world's most threatened tribe, the AWA. If you've forgotten, look back to Activities in 2011-12 when we ran this campaign. Most students watched the campaign group's presentation in tutor groups. LOTS of you wrote to the Minister of Justice (even though there was an attempt to block those emails). You asked for the Brazilian government to act.

The 460 members of the Awá tribe live by hunting for peccary, tapir and monkey, travelling through the rainforest with 6-foot long bows and by gathering forest produce: babaçu nuts, açaí berries and honey. Some foods are considered to have special properties – others, such as vultures, bats and the three-toed sloth, are forbidden. The Awá also travel by night, lighting the way with torches made from tree resin.

We have heard today by email that the campaign for the Awa put unprecedented pressure on the Brazilian government to act and the new head of Brazil’s indigenous affairs department has made the Awá her top priority. The government has now mapped out some of the areas where the loggers are operating. The UN has asked Survival International,who brought the issue to light, for details of the Awá’s plight, which they have provided. The tribe’s story has been covered in newspapers, magazines and on TV around the world.  It was backed up by Colin Firth.  The campaign continues, and it illustrates how your emails and letters CAN make things happen.

The 460 members of the Awá tribe live by hunting for peccary, tapir and monkey, travelling through the rainforest with 6-foot long bows and by gathering forest produce: babaçu nuts, açaí berries and honey. Some foods are considered to have special properties – others, such as vultures, bats and the three-toed sloth, are forbidden. The Awá also travel by night, lighting the way with torches made from tree resin. 

The survivor

After seeing his family massacred by  ranchers, Awá man Karapiru (‘Hawk’) ent on the run. What happened next is surely one of the most extraordinary stories you’ve ever read. Read the first instalment of Karapiru’s story 




We hope all students, staff, parents and members of the public will lend support in helping raise awareness of Chalara fraxinea (ash dieback). Your efforts will go a long way to assist the Woodland Trust, the Forestry Commission and the government in understanding the true scale of the disease across the UK.   Ash dieback (below left) and healthy ash (below right)

Over half term weekend we have seen the Secretary of State introduce a ban on the import and movement of ash across the UK. Unfortunately,  the disease has been found in both the mature ancient woodland and woodland creation areas on of the Woodland Trust's estate at Pound Farm in Suffolk. The Woodland Trust is now calling on the government to set up an emergency summit bringing together representatives from all areas of forestry, plant health and conservation. The Woodland Trust will play an active role in any task force that is created.

Today the ash is under threat

We’ve already looked at the effect of leaf miners on the horse chestnut, & now another of our native trees is at risk. 
"I think I've seen a tree with ash dieback – what should I do?" 

Go the this Woodland Trust page, or to BBC's Autumnwatch page 

Or download this useful symptons guide leaflet




Students in many classes enjoyed an unusual treat after half term. We were able to mount a superb display of fungi, legally collected from the Forest two days earlier in short forays organised by the Hampshire Fungus Recording Group.  

Students were immediately able to see the diversity within the Kingdom Fungi and they learnt about edible and poisonous specimens. They particularly enjoyed hearing about the more unusual fungi.  We are very grateful to the Hampshire Fungus Recording Group who provided interesting leaflets and most fo the fungi.



The British Trust for Ornithology is asking people to record what berries birds are eating. We have lots of pyracantha at school that birds like the blackbird (below) enjoy.

Many birds take advantage of the berries that form part of Nature's autumn bounty. Some of these berries may last through into the New Year, providing much-needed resources for wintering thrushes, but which berries are used and when? With your help we can increase our understanding of how birds use garden berries and answer key questions to deliver better advice on which berry-producing plants to use in our gardens.


The Birds and Garden Berries Study began on Sunday 30th September. If you would like to take part in the study or find out more about the project then please email the BTO at


The study has three components, the first of which looks at berry availability throughout the winter. The second examines how quickly berries are removed from plants and the third looks at which birds take berries. BTO hope that people will contribute to all three components but any contribution would be welcome.


Advice on selecting berry-producing plants for the garden can be found here and you can learn about how plants use birds to disperse their seeds by looking here. Find out more about berries and access a list of those eaten by birds here




A team of six students from year 8 to Year 13, met In Ringwood's Gateway building with representatives of businesses, churches and interested people in town to discuss a programme of work to move Ringwood town's move to re-registration for Fairtrade status forward.

The working party reviewed the five goals issued by the Fairtrade Foundation, each  of which would need to be met to enable the town’s Fairtrade status to be renewed. A steering group was established and there was a free discussion about how to take things forward. The six students each have a task, inluding the compliation of a Ringwood directory of Fairtrade, the creation of a Facebook page and a website.

Peter Brown of Waitrose and Vicky Jordan of Sainsbury's were voted in a s Chairman and Secretary respectively. The school was pleased both to be actively involved and to gain the support of business for its Fairtrade ventures, such as the Children in Need cake bake thatw as supported by Sainsbury's.

Minutes of this meeting may be downloaded here.


Remember Navitus Bay during Climate Week?  

Last spring, many students enjoyed a talk about Navitus Bay, the proposed wind farm. If you missed it or if you're a parent or an interested member of the community, there’s another chance!  There is a conference about Navitus Bay on Tuesday 30th October, 7.00- 9.00pm at the Allesbrook Theatre, Bournemouth University, Fern Barrow Talbot Campus, Poole.

There will be a short talk by Andy Atkins, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth and a showing of ‘Wind Power in UK’, followed by a question and answer session, chaired by Dr Nigel Garland  of Bournemouth University.  




Winter approaches! Insulate Hampshire is working with Lymington Town Council to offer free rolls of DIY ‘top up’ loft insulation for collection on Thursday 1st November between 10.00am and 12.30pm 

To register for your free rolls mail  

In an uninsulated home a quarter of your heat is lost through the roof. Insulating your loft, attic or flat roof is a simple and effective way to save that waste and reduce your heating bills – you can even do it yourself. Loft insulation is effective for at least 40 years, and it will pay for itself over and over again in that time. 



Loft insulation (0 to 270mm)

Loft insulation(100 to 270mm)

Approximate saving per year Up to £175  £25
Installation cost £100 to £350 £100 to £350
Time taken to pay for itself Up to two years  From four years
DIY cost £50 to £350  £50 to £350 
Time taken to pay for itself  Up to two years From two years
Carbon dioxide saving per year Around 720kg   Around 110kg 

These are estimates based on insulating a gas-heated, semi-detached home with three bedrooms, showing savings when you insulate an uninsulated loft, and when you top up 100mm of insulation to 270mm. (The recommended depth for mineral wool insulation is 270mm but other materials need different depths.)

If your loft is already insulated, it's worth checking that you've got enough insulation to get the maximum saving. If everyone in the UK installed 270mm loft insulation, we could save nearly £500 million – and 2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, the equivalent of taking nearly 100,000 cars off the road!  This offer is a bargain and good for the planet!


Urge the UK Government to tackle the global hunger crisis in the right way.

Rocketing food prices and the effects of climate change have produced a ‘perfect storm’ hunger crisis, threatening millions of lives across many continents. Eight of the world’s superpowers meet in the UK for the 39th G8 Summit in July 2013 to discuss solutions to the global hunger crisis. Some policy makers argue that factory farming is the answer; that we need to cram animals together in the pursuit of ‘efficiency’. But this is no solution – it will deepen the hunger crisis and create havoc for people, the planet and animals.

As host of the 2013 G8 Summit, the UK Government has a great opportunity to tackle the global hunger crisis. Research shows that we can feed the world effectively with humane sustainable farming rather than than factory farming. Continuing the path of livestock intensification will have dramatic consequences on global land use and food production.

As host of the G8 Summit, the UK Government has the power to set the agenda. David Cameron can use his leadership position to promote humane and sustainable farming rather than factory farming in vulnerable countries.

If you agree, take action; send the UK Government a copy of Compassion in World Farming’s food security report and help tackle the global hunger crisis.



There are fears that there is an inadequate food supply for bees as their numbers double with the popularity of urban beekeeping. With the growing trend of producing home-grown honey, the number of bees in London has doubled in the past four years.  Beekeeping associations are warning that there may not be enough food to sustain the growing numbers as a hive requires as much as 66lb of pollen and 260lb of nectar to sustain it. Experts worry that London does not have sufficient plants that are nectar-rich and bee-friendly. 

Angela Woods, the secretary of the London Beekeepers Association says, “Saving bees does not necessarily mean keeping them.  Plant your garden with bee friendly flowers.”

Exactly! The photo shows some of our cornflowers last July.



As usual, we have spent the first half term carrying out travel surveys, paper use surveys, litter surveys and pond surveys. Students are currently analysing results and when processed, they will be available on the VLE. In the meantime, there were many of you who wanted to cycle but felt our roads were unsafe, and there were others who complained about roads you didn't like crossing, roads that were too narrow for you to walk safely or drivers who park on pavements. Please  look at SUSTRANS BIG STREET SURVEY.  Discuss it at home! Get together with others and write a manifesto!  You could be part of something big. 



We are keen for Year 7 students to understand what Fairtrade is about before they join the mainstream group, so Nuala provided a quick introduction. Discussion followed. Then Ellie and Anna together with our most active Year 9 Fairtrade students sat with groups of Year 7 and made sure that Year 7 understood Fairtrade. The photo shows students making decisions about the next chocolate bar that could 'go Fairtrade' Year 7 are taking the information back to tutor groups and encouraging students to vote! The photo at the bottom left shows empty Malteser packets. This isn't any old litter! Maltesers went Fairtrade this summer! 

Year 7 will have their own event next half term. Watch this space.





We asked students new to the Wildlife Group whether blue tits (below) might save the UK’s horse chestnut or conker trees, which are currently under attack from a leaf-mining moth. The moth arrived in London ten years ago, and has since spread across most of England and Wales. The moth caterpillars or ‘miners’ eat the leaves of the conker tree while hiding inside them, so damaging the leaves and causing them to turn brown. The tree appears permaturely brown, as if autumn has come early.

The Conker Tree Science Project tries to establish the extent of the damage from the moth and also examine possible solutions to the problem.  In a ‘Citizen Science’ project, members of the public have been asked to contribute data on the spread of the moth across the UK. More research, launched this autumn, asked members of the public to count the number of bird attacks on horse-chestnut leaves. Each bird attack creates distinctive holes in the top surface of the leaf, where the caterpillar of the leaf-mining moth was living. Each attack means one less moth, and so could result in less damage to the horse-chestnut trees. 

We obtained lots of ‘mined’ horse chestnut leaves (above); some were obtained from MInstead in the New Forest, other samples came from students’ gardens where there might be expected to be more bluetits as people feed them. We called these ‘forest’ and ‘suburban’ samples.  Results were interesting: students held leaves up to the light and could see the larvae of the leaf mining moth very clearly. However, there were far more holes, cuased by bluetits predating the larvae, in the suburban leaves. (see photo below). Our results were submitted to the Conker Tree Project


Should pandas be left to face extinction?

This was the subject of great debate with Tom and Robbie providing cogent argument for letting the panda die out, a view taken by Chris Packham who says,

I don't want the panda to die out. I want species to stay alive – that's why I get up in the morning. I don't even kill mosquitoes or flies. So if pandas can survive, that would be great. But let's face it: conservation, both nationally and globally, has a limited amount of resources, and I think we're going to have to make some hard, pragmatic choices.

The truth is, pandas are extraordinarily expensive to keep going. We spend millions and millions of pounds on pretty much this one species, and a few others, when we know that the best thing we could do would be to look after the world's biodiversity hotspots with greater care. Without habitat, you've got nothing. So maybe if we took all the cash we spend on pandas and just bought rainforest with it, we might be doing a better job.”    See

Many take the opposing view. WWF says, for instance,The giant panda is a species threatened to be wiped off planet. Ironically, it is also one better known and loved species in the world and one of the strongest symbols of nature conservation. That is one of the main reasons why they are so important: by mobilizing people to save the panda, we are actually helping preserve the rich biodiversity - plants, landscapes, other animals - that need to be there in order for the pandas to survive.

Pandas live in the Yangtze Basin, and its magnificent forests are home to a stunning array of wildlife such as dwarf blue sheep and beautiful multi-coloured pheasants; as well as a number of other endangered species, including the
golden monkey, takin and crested ibis. They also play a crucial role in the bamboo forests where they roam by spreading seeds and facilitating greater growth of the vegetation. The panda’s habitat is also home for millions of people. This is the geographic and economic heart of China. By making this area more sustainable, we are also helping to increase the quality of life of local populations.

They bring huge economic benefits to local communities through ecotourism and other activities. Besides all these natural values, pandas are an important cultural icon for Chinese people.”


Tom and Robbie fought valiantly in this early morning debate, but in the end, the motion was defeated and the giant panda, according to Ringwood at least, lives!  What do you think?

We debate the badger cull next!



Our energy students have been busy analysing the school’s energy usage. They have also become involved in a new project, the New Forest School and Community Energy Saving Project. This has been awarded funding from the National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund. 

Thanks to this fund and to New Forest transition, ten junior schools have been given a substantial funding in order to promote energy saving in their schools and communities over the next 2 years. Key elements include a residential visit to Minstead Study Centre to learn about energy, an energy audit courtesy of Hampshire County Council, practical school and community based activities and the use of a thermal imaging camera which will be owned by the project.

Following a community meeting at Minstead, we are helping Burley and Morgan’s Vale Schools in very different ways. Year 11 students Ellie and Anna  attended a meeting with Morgan’s Vale and made great plans - for working with the children and for a community-based project that will benefit both the Morgan's Vale and Ringwood communities.  

Another team, Nuala, Catherine, Robbie, Ben, James, Leon and Liam, learnt about the project from Cathy Cook.  IDeas then raced around the table. This is a great project that we are very pleased indeed to be part of.  



While Ringwood's litter is not a great problem, one survey told us that students on the school (and recreation centre) site were wasting food; packed lunches in particular. We found that 43% of all waste found in the school grounds was food, and its packaging.   So we took action. We heard from one a student's Dad that he was setting up food cosmposting and we were interested. 

Ringwood School is now recycling its food waste. With Government targets being set to recycle waste rather than go to landfill sites, the importance of 100% food recycling is of real interest to us. It is a means of effectively ridding the school of food waste, of reducing our carbon footprint and of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.  

The collected waste goes through a prolonged process of heating, sterilizing, spreading and treating aerobically before it is sieved and turned into compost. It is this ‘Eco’ compost which we have used as a peat-free alternative in the school grounds. The successful ‘Eco’ recycling company will soon take food waste to amulti-million pound biogas plant that will recycle the food waste and supply electricity and gas. The plant  has created  new jobs and includes a reception barn, generator container, digester and two storage tanks.It will take in up to 15,000 tonnes of organic waste, such as food waste, annually as well as up to 6,000 tonnes of pig slurry to create methane gas.

Given that rotting food waste dumped in landfill sites creates methane, a climate change gas that is 22 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, this makes sense for Ringwood School where we take responsibility for our future environment and look towards a more sustainable future. Although the canteen is pleased with this facility, and it's great to get renewable energy from what were previously food scraps as far as parents are concerned, it is, of course, far better to persuade your son or daughter to eat a packed lunch in the first place, rather than composting it.  



Recycling has had a make-over. Our recycling area has been enlarged and new bins go into all classrooms after half term. These are our first replacement bins sicnce we started recycling in 2004.  We continue to recycle a huge range of products and materials, mostly for charity. Goods include bras, keys, bottle tops, CDs and DVDs, aluminium of all types – foil, cans and cooking trays, UK and foreign stamps (separated).  A full list of what we recycle and why we do so is available from reception or from the school office.  


Our Bee Garden

The bee garden was still flowering when we returned to school in September. The odd cornflower and corn marigold survived but it was Cosmos (below) that predominated.  These must have been part of our Friends of the Earth seeds  that we sowed in early May,  rather than from our original 'Corn meadow Annuals'  

We planned to collect as much seed as possible from our bee garden but a poor, wet growing  season with everything late to mature does not make for easy seed collecting. Saving seed is never more important than in these conditions because home -saved seeds represent a great bank of genetic diversity.  If our seeds do better while others' seeds fail, we have seeds for next year. In mid September we left pods and other seed heads on the plants and cut the plants, bringing them indoors to dry off.  We can now collect the seeds from these fruits for next year.  Below:  Echinacea, Poppy and Nigella