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Sustainability Clinic Spotlight: Empowering an eco-council in York primary school

News | Posted on Friday 5 April 2024

Read about a team of 3rd Year Environment and Geography students who have partnered with a York primary school as part of their Sustainability Clinic project.

The student team presented their Sustainability Clinic project at the annual Student Sustainability Research Conference at the University of Leeds in March.

A team of 3rd Year students from the Department of Environment and Geography have recently taken part in our award-winning Sustainability Clinic module, partnering up with a local primary school in York to empower young minds with sustainability knowledge and action. 

In Semester 1, Abigail Brown, Ellie Robbins, Heather Newman, Jackson Conway, and Kirstie McMaster, participated in the Sustainability Clinic module. Their project brief involved working closely with the eco-council of a York primary school to address important sustainability challenges.

Project objectives

The project was designed with clear objectives in mind:

  • Conduct engaging sessions on sustainability with pupils from the eco-council.
  • Develop the pupils’ knowledge on sustainability topics.
  • Empower the eco-council by using their ideas.
  • Inspire the eco-council to continue implementing sustainable strategies going forward.

Interactive sessions

The project unfolded through several interactive on-site sessions with the school’s eco-council.

In the first session, the student team worked with the eco-council to explore biodiversity. This involved using quadrats and species identification guides from the University that the school could use to look at the differences in biodiversity across the school grounds.

The next session focused on carbon storage. Here, eco-council members actively participating in a practical session to measure carbon storage in the trees within the school's woodland. This activity empowered the pupils as they were able to see how their work can produce results. The session also helped emphasise the significance of planting trees and raising awareness for reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

The final session presented discussions on energy sources and conservation strategies, followed by a practical exercise where students built model wind turbines, illustrating the transition from theory to practice in renewable energy.

A sustainability audit

In the final part of the project brief, our student team supported the eco-council to create and conduct a sustainability audit of the school. This comprehensive assessment involved the entire school community and provided insights into existing strengths and areas of improvement.


The Sustainability Clinic project not only enriched the pupils’ knowledge but also honed essential skills such as teamwork, communication, and creativity. It also exemplified the potential of university-community collaborations in fostering environmental stewardship from a young age.

In March 2024, our student team presented their Clinic project at the annual Student Sustainability Research Conference at the University of Leeds.

The student team's project poster displayed at the Student Sustainability Research Conference's poster exhibition in March 2024.

A huge well done to our student team for delivering such an inspiring project, and for the primary school’s engagement and willingness to work collaboratively on sustainability issues that matter to them!

About the Sustainability Clinic

The Sustainability Clinic is part of a suite of sustainability-related York Interdisciplinary Modules (YIMs) available to take as an elective module. Find out more about the Sustainability Clinic, and how you can take it as an elective in 2024/25.

The Sustainability Clinic

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Sustainability at York

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Sustainability at York