Oakwood School's sustainability

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Growing our future together

Being ambitious and forward-thinking is central to our ethos at Oakwood. It is our priority to build the resilience of the school and of our pupils. To respond to the changes happening around us, from the impacts of climate change to the complex challenges we’re facing in society and the growing expectations placed on organisations. 

As a school we nurture creative and independent thinking. Preparing staff and pupils with the knowledge, skills and awareness to recognise our social and environmental responsibilities is imperative in our sustainable journey. 

We are committed to delivering a range of actions which we can all adopt in our school life from now through to 2030. Some changes are happening quickly whereas others require dedicated time, resources and investment. Our aspirations focus on measurable performance, which will be monitored and regularly shared to demonstrate our commitment and progress in growing our future together.

Sustainability in action at Oakwood 

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Our commitment to make a difference

Aspiring to reach net zero by 2030

One of the biggest opportunities for change is through our carbon footprint.  We are working towards being a net zero school by 2030 (baseline year 2018/19). This is a big undertaking but it is imperative Oakwood contributes to the movement to limit global average temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees, and for our pupils to recognise our collective responsibility to address the climate crisis.

  • We have measured our baseline year of 2018/19 across all greenhouse gas emissions scopes (scopes 1, 2 and 3) which totalled 1,254 tCO2e. In 2022, we reduced our overall carbon footprint by 11% compared with our 2018/19 baseline year. Our scope 1 emissions which are generated from our consumption of fuels on-site decreased by 13%.
  • Our scope 2 emissions which are from purchased electricity decreased by 94%. This is mainly because we purchased 100% certified renewable electricity to demonstrate our commitment to reducing our emissions. 
  • Scope 3 emissions are those from activities in our value chain which we can influence and these decreased by 6%. 

Net zero is a long-term goal focused on reducing emissions in line with the latest climate science. We are working on a carbon reduction plan which will focus our efforts to avoid and reduce emissions, followed by neutralising unavoidable emissions to reach our net zero ambition.  Making progress means collaborating with others, including parents and suppliers, and we will use the compelling influence of our pupils to hold us all to account.

Oakwood’s carbon footprint (tCO2e)

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* Our emissions have been calculated using The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard . We use carbon conversion factors from the UK Government Emissions Conversion Factors for Company Reporting (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) alongside World Input-Output Database (WIOD) emission factors for certain scope 3 calculations for the relevant reporting year. Scope 2 emissions are calculated using location and market-based methods.

Our commitments towards planet and people

We have identified other priority social and environmental areas which we are committed to manage responsibly.

Waste Management 

We already have a keen focus on waste management but know we can do more to reduce the waste we generate and to ensure we dispose of it responsibly. We are committed to aligning with principles of the circular economy model which include keeping resources in use for as long as possible and adopting sustainability criteria in our procurement. 

Diversity & Inclusion

We provide our staff and pupils with a culture that promotes diversity, inclusivity, and respect. Oakwood is richer and more vibrant for nurturing an environment where everyone thrives. We promote equal opportunities for all and as a responsible employer, we regularly review our recruitment and development processes to ensure accessibility and fairness.  

Safety & Wellbeing 

A core priority of the school is to foster a healthy, safe and supportive place for our children to grow, for staff to thrive and for visitors to feel confident and welcome. We place a high focus on risk assessments and make sure safety issues are rapidly addressed. Health and safety is closely monitored and we are held to account by regulatory bodies. 

"Pupils say keeping teachers and school friends healthy and safe is the top people priority, followed by having a voice on global issues."

 

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Embedding sustainability in all we do

Sustainability at Oakwood is firmly embedded in our aims, core values and strategic goals. A celebration of our rich culture, strong community values and educational vision alongside our business model.
Read more about us here.

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Our culture, community and ethos

We nurture an inspiring, positive culture at Oakwood, growing kind individuals with people and community at the heart of this. Charity support is central to our school with pupils leading the way. This year choosing WWF and Stonepillow, a local charity supporting homeless and vulnerable people. These selected charities demonstrate the pupils’ commitment to support global and local issues. Our pupils show a clear desire to look after animals, nature and the environment and their social responsibilities through kindness and helping others.

"We should help people and never give up."
Prep-school pupil

Educational vision

We are committed to incorporating real-world learning opportunities into all areas of the curriculum. This is alongside maximising the wonderful outdoor learning opportunities afforded by our school site, be that in the woods, the pond, the Brewhouse Garden or the wide open spaces. We learn outside when possible to also benefit from the wellbeing opportunities of spending time amongst nature and using of natural materials.  

Financial and business model

It is important that Oakwood’s governance and operations continue to be resilient, effective and fit for the future – while staying true to our purpose. With changing legislation relating to the environment, requirements to be transparent about organisational performance and societal expectations of schools, we are preparing Oakwood to respond well to the pace of change.

Our sustainability strategy focuses on commitments to help address existing climate change, protect our natural environment, and strive towards the preservation of resources for future Oakwood generations. We are privileged to be situated in such rich natural surrounding and are focused on the protection and restoration of its biodiversity. Our strategic commitments require dedication across the school’s operations, partnerships with our suppliers and engagement from our pupils and families. 

"We must make sure not to harm the natural area around us and to protect it."
Prep-school pupil

We are continuing to adopt and develop sustainable practices across all our operations and incorporating sustainability in our decision making. Sustainability is integrated into our school development plan and is now a permanent feature at Governor, staff and leadership team meetings. In addition to already working with local suppliers and sourcing locally where possible, we will assess our procurement practices to ensure we are being responsible and sustainable in our buying and investment choices. We are considering options to make our building estate and wider site more resilient to the impact of climate change such as from extreme weather events, fuel availability and cost pressures.

Our approach

We have developed our approach to sustainability through a recognised and robust methodology, working with external experts in corporate sustainability.

Prioritised our issues and engaged with our stakeholders

We began with research to determine the range of important sustainability issues. This included what’s happening in the corporate and education sectors on sustainability, our location, our independent school status, and charitable, educational, social and environmental responsibilities. To gain further insight, we consulted our stakeholders which included our pupils, staff, parents, suppliers and governors. Input was obtained through one-to-one interviews, surveys, workshops and votes. 

"Focus on things which are within your control such as educating children on climate change, limiting waste to landfill, using sustainable materials and reducing energy consumption on site."
Parent

Focusing where we can have the greatest impact

A materiality assessment highlighted priority areas – for stakeholders and also for the school’s development. These included health, safety and wellbeing for pupils and staff, climate change, maintaining our role as responsible educators and the efficient and responsible use of natural resources.  

"97% of Oakwood parents surveyed consider teaching about people and planet, a high priority."
2021 Sustainability Survey

Giving our project tangible status

We have a committed Sustainability Working Group who are stewards of the school’s Sustainability Action Plan. With support from colleagues, members of the Working Group are progressing immediate and longer-term actions, with accountability held between the school’s Business Manager and Operations Manager.  

Aligned with our values of fostering kind, respectful individuals, we asked the School Council and staff to choose the headline for our approach. The line that won the vote taps into our ethos of nurturing, positivity and unity. They chose Growing our future together.

Oakwood’s sustainability journey

Over this school year, sustainability will be further woven into our risk and opportunities processes, learning experiences and into decisions made about the school’s built environment, including the construction of a new woodland classroom that will benefit all pupils. 

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Transparency is paramount for progress and is another commitment we make – to regularly share achievements, challenges and opportunities for collaboration with us. We will evolve our Sustainability Action Plan as we learn more, and innovate our ways to achieve Oakwood’s goals for short and long term resilience and sustainability: To grow our future together.

"We have a responsibility for the success of Oakwood now but we are also custodians of Oakwood for future generations. As Governors, we are proud that Clare and her team have embarked on this ambitious and admirable sustainability journey."
Richard Geffen, Chair of Governors

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