Northgate students and staff warmly welcomed Breckland Council Leader, Sam Chapman-Allen and Councillors Hilary Bushell and Ian Sherwood into school recently for a very special announcement.

Back in March 2020 Councillor Chapman-Allen visited the school and spoke to School Council members about his role and how he came to be on the Council. He said that one of the main reasons he become the Leader was he ‘wanted to make a difference – everyone has the ability to change something if you are willing to put the work and effort it.’ This certainly rings true with students and staff at Northgate. At this talk, students were very keen to talk about the eco projects that were going on around the school and spoke with real enthusiasm and passion. After a tour of the school and a visit to the technology department, where he spoke to Mr Mottley, in charge of Design Technology, Mr Chapman-Allen felt there was more he could do to support Northgate’s eco efforts.

He came with Councillors Bushell and Sherwood to announce that Breckland Council have awarded Northgate with a £10,000 grant to purchase a plastic recycling machine. This was a huge surprise to both students and staff and a real boost to the school’s environmental efforts. Councillor Ian Sherwood, who is Breckland’s Sustainability Strategy lead, said that a number of local projects and initiatives are able to apply to receive money from Breckland Council as part of their drive on sustainability and climate change. Breckland wants to make positive environmental changes and also work with others on green initiatives. The machine shreds the plastic into smaller pieces and then melts it into flat sheets. We are going to use the machine to recycle as many plastics as they can to make new products within Design Technology and try to create a more sustainable school.  We would like pupils and the wider community to bring in their plastics like milk and shampoo bottles to be recycled, shredded and processed.

Miss Theobald, School Council Coordinator, gave an insight into some of the student’s current eco projects including recycling campaigns, social media campaigns to raise awareness of the small positive actions we can all have, litter picks and upcycling old filing cabinets into planters. As a school, we are looking forward to future projects that students, due to attend an Earth Summit in the Autumn in Lund, will come back and work on at Northgate and Dereham Sixth Form.

Mrs Galley and Dr Hone, Heads of School, thanked Breckland Council on behalf of Northgate for the amazing opportunity and commented that this has shown that students really do have a voice. When they are willing to speak out about matters they are enthusiastic and passionate about they can be heard. The plastic recycling machine will be their legacy which students and the community in the future will benefit from.

We hope the machine will arrive in the autumn and so will keep everyone updated as to how they can get involved and recycle their plastic with us – exciting!