Monitoring and Evaluation gives your Eco-Schools programme its credibility.
To measure the success of your Eco-Schools programme and reach the targets laid out in your Action Plan, you must monitor and evaluate your progress. This will also indicate areas where activities have been successful and highlight areas where a different approach may be required.
- As far as possible, pupils should be encouraged to undertake the monitoring set out in the Action Plan to help foster a greater sense of ownership towards the programme and allow teachers to take a step back.
- Reaching goals can provide a ‘feel good’ factor about the achievements and progress to date and continue motivation and participation at a whole-school level.
- Continuous monitoring will help you to make sure that interest in Eco-Schools is maintained. This will facilitate the transition from establishing an environmental programme to becoming an integral part of the day-to-day running of the school.
Monitoring and Evaluating - Why, What and How? will help schools understand the importance of this step and how to carry it out.
Monitoring and evaluating the progress of your Eco-Schools work is an excellent opportunity to incorporate curriculum links, particularly in the areas of Maths, ICT, Art, Geography and English, as well as developing other skills such as personal understanding, mutual understanding, personal health, moral character, spiritual awareness, citizenship, cultural understanding, media awareness, ethical awareness, employability, economic awareness and education for sustainable development.
Ways of monitoring progress
As part of the Green Flag award process, schools are expected to supply some quantifiable data in relation to the topics they have covered. The Data Zone is designed to help with Monitoring and Evaluation which traditionally has been a step that most schools have found difficult. By collecting data, the aim is to help schools to see the real impact of their work. Through collecting and monitoring data it will ultimately help schools with the evaluation part of the step i.e. to consider the results achieved - are these as expected, if not why not?; identify any areas for improvement; and to celebrate any areas of success.
The methods of monitoring that you use will depend on the targets and measurement criteria set out in your Action Plan, as well as the age and ability of pupils, staff and helpers. The Data Zone should be your first point of reference but here are some other suggestions:
- Regular utility meter readings can be used to monitor any reductions in consumption to document the effects of energy-saving activities;
- Calculating financial savings will show the effects of energy-saving initiatives (where meters are not accessible);
- Calculating the reduction in car miles attained through a walk to school week (or month!);
- Litter/waste audits will show the effects of litter/recycling initiatives ;
- Keeping pupil food diaries to monitor changes in dietary habits when working on the healthy living topic;
- Carrying out satisfaction surveys to record the noticeable changes that have taken place from pupils, staff, residents, local community. Carrying out this type of measuring complements whole school involvement;
- Before, during and after photographs should be taken as visual evidence to support your Green Flag application/assessment; and
- Listing evidence of native wildlife/species of plants, shrubs and trees and how many have been planted on school grounds each year will assist in the monitoring of biodiversity.
We suggest that Eco-Schools Coordinators and Eco-Committee:
- Display the monitoring results (e.g. in graphs, charts) and use the data to deliver aspects of the curriculum;
- Make sure that the whole school is kept up to date with the progress towards achieving its objectives. These results should be posted on the Eco-Schools notice board/school website or why not celebrate achieving a target in assembly;
- Produce a regular report for school council meetings and governors;
- Data from each review should be retained and used as a comparison against up-to-date information; and
- This will assist you in producing a time-line of the progress made within the school and help you plan your future environmental strategy.
YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO UTILISE THE DATA ZONE AS EVIDENCE WHEN APPLYING FOR THE GREEN FLAG AWARD.
Using monitoring data to evaluate progress
Once the monitoring/measuring data has been collated, it is important that you interpret
and evaluate the information to determine the success of your activities.
Your monitoring data will help you to identify if your eco work is on target or not and whether it has been effective or ineffective. You can then decide if changes to your initial targets or activities documented in the Action Plan are required and what these should involve.
Publicise your results
Make sure the whole school is aware of your progress by displaying any results and figures prominently in the school (e.g. on your Eco-Schools notice board, school newsletter, assembly, school website, etc.). Remember, successes should be celebrated loudly!
In summary your monitoring and evaluation programme should:
- Be developed in parallel with your Action Plan;
- Be carried out by the students when and where possible;
- Feed back into your Action Plan so as to identify areas for adjustments and improvements to be made when and where necessary;
- Increase the likelihood (or reduce time required) for achieving goals formulated in your Action Plan; and
- Be publicised (e.g. displayed on your Eco-Schools notice board, school website, newsletter, etc.)
TOP TIP: It is important to quantify your Monitoring where possible, using a unit of environmental performance that is applicable to your school, e.g. number/volume of bins going to landfill weekly, units of electricity consumed per month, average cost of water consumption per student per month, etc. It is important to take before and after measurements so you can evaluate your progress.
To find topic specific tasks and activities, which show clear links to the curriculum, please see Resources where you can also find fact sheets and case studies.
For ideas on how to measure your environmental impact, analyse, evaluate and present the data you collect, click on to each of our Eleven Topics. You can find fact sheets and case studies in our Resources menu.
Our partner organisations can also offer advice and information on monitoring and evaluating the topics which they support.
- The Eco-Committee makes a note of progress towards targets.
- The group discusses success or otherwise of the action being undertaken.
- The Eco-Committee reviews progress against set targets.
- The Eco-Committee reports progress to whole school by appropriate means on a regular basis.
- The value of activities and action is understood and is committed to by the whole school - pupils and adults.
- The Eco-Committee ensures that evaluation of action is ongoing, appropriate to the activity monitored and that some of it is carried out by pupils.
- The whole school is aware of progress of environmental action and is given the opportunity to evaluate its effect through discussion and debate.
- The Eco-Committee meets to review progress and analyse the data collected.
- They build on successes and decide on remedial action when activities are not proving successful.
- Some monitoring data is used for curriculum work.