ODBE schools ‘twin’ with schools in South India to help tackle the climate crisis
19 January 2021
The Oxford Diocesan Board of Education (ODBE) has announced that it is launching a new initiative, the School Twinning Programme, in partnership with the United Society for Partners in the Gospel (USPG) and the Church of South India, in response to the climate emergency.
The ten UK schools taking part in the pilot all hail from across the Diocese of Oxford (Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire) and are climate change and sustainability champions, with many winning Eco Awards. The partner schools are part of the well-established Green Schools Programme of the Church of South India and it is hoped that the project will allow children in both countries to share projects and discuss ways to improve their environmental credentials.
Speaking of the project, the Rev Duncan Dormor, General Secretary of USPG says,
“This is a tremendously exciting and historic. Today, with the launch of this twinning programme, a seed is being sown – of mutual learning, exploration and commitment: Commitment to change our world through the exchange of ideas on energy conservation, environmental protection and tackling climate change. It is wonderful to see the vision and determination of students from India and The Diocese of Oxford coming together under the leadership of the churches to make a real difference – to exchange knowledge, develop friendship and deepen cultural understanding. It gives me great joy that USPG can help foster such an exciting and powerful example of transformative partnership in our world today.”
View a short video detailing the work at an STP school.
Tony Wilson, Director of the Oxford Board of Education continues,
“As an organisation, we feel that learning is not just about classrooms and books. This project gives the children of the Diocese a real opportunity to take a glimpse into another culture and learn valuable life skills whilst helping to heal and nurture our planet. They will also be able to see clearly how the actions we take here in the UK can have a huge effect, both positive and negative, to people both near and far.
We are thrilled to be spearheading this initiative with USPG and look forward to hearing all about what the children learn.”
View a short video detailing the work that Shinfield Primary School are doing to help turn the tide on climate change:
Climate change champions
One of the schools taking part, Shinfield St Mary’s C of E Junior School in Wokingham, has already made great strides in terms of their environmental work, becoming the first school in the South East of England to become carbon neutral, offsetting their carbon emissions with a range of projects including building a bio dome, used to grow vegetables, which are in turn sold to raise money for a local homeless project. They have even been mentioned at the UN Climate Control summit in 2020.
Their head teacher, Sue Runcimon says,
“Our students are so excited to twin with BEM Lower Primary School, Payannur, and share their ideas as well as learn all about how children their age in other countries are tackling climate change.
“This initiative also strengthens our bond with the ODBE and the Diocese of Oxford – we are lucky to enjoy a nourishing and supportive relationship with them and I for one am looking forward to the Bishop of Reading joining the zoom launch as she has such a keen focus on social justice and climate change and is a real inspiration to our pupils.”
The Rt Revd Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading concludes,
“I whole heartedly welcome this initiative between ODBE, USPG and the CSI. As the Bishop of Oxford said last year, our response to the climate crisis must be nothing less than an ecological conversion and it is wonderful to see children, in whose hands the future of this planet lies, playing such a key role in educating others and helping to enforce new, sustainable methods of caring for the earth – God’s gift and creation.”