Special school gets third green flag for environmental programme

A GROUP of pupils in Co Tipperary have made history by becoming the first special school to be awarded a third Green Flag for programmes to help the environment.

The 43 pupils at St Anne’s Special School in Roscrea celebrated the raising of the flag yesterday with the help of Education Minister Mary Hanafin.

Their latest flag was awarded by An Taisce for a plan to conserve water, which involved the school staff, pupils and parents, from the planning through to its operation.

As part of the scheme, the children fill toilet cisterns with water to save the use of more water when flushing, and signs in the toilets remind pupils and teachers to turn off any dripping taps.

St Anne’s principal James McMahon said: “The great thing about programmes like this is that they engage children in learning activities that are very practical and put things in context. It’s not just about sitting at a desk with pens and paper.”

The children at the school range in age from four to 18 and they have a range of disabilities and learning difficulties. The staff include eight class teachers, 17 special needs assistants and a team of therapists who help the pupils, many of whom begin their education with poor language skills.

“There is a real sense of achievement among the kids by becoming the first special school in the country to get a third green flag, but it’s a real tribute to the work they put into the programme themselves,” Mr McMahon said.

The school got its first green flag in 2002 for reducing, reusing and recycling litter and waste, followed by a second two years later for conserving energy.

The practices employed to secure these awards are still in use, including the use of waste for art and paper briquettes, and reminders to turn off lights as pupils leave rooms.

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