I see that Eco Schools is making big changes to the way it operates. These might be summarised as [i] abandoning the bronze and silver awards as stepping stones to flag acquisition; [ii] making the application process entirely on-line; [iii] no assessor visits to assure quality (it's actually not clear whether this is a permanent change or just a covid measure); and [iv] requiring an annual renewal of accreditation. These are significant changes and you will find the detail and a long explanation here.
There are clearly some potential positives in all this. Creating an Eco-Schools Impact Report, with school case studies and statistics has to be a good thing, depending on whether "impact" really is impact and not just a set of outcomes.
An annual accreditation will result in more meaningful stats on how many green flags are still fluttering above schools, and removing silver / bronze categories will make for greater clarity about numbers.
I'm less enthused about the idea of Green Flag with Merit and Green Flag with Distinction awards. These are described as "optional". Well, the whole shebang is optional and there has to be a risk replacing bronze / silver / green flag with flag / + merit / + distinction. Plus ça change, then.
This prompted the memory of a visit to Wigan Pier way back when. It was a time when you could get a green flag and seemingly keep it no matter what. I tried to persuade the Eco School leadership that it ought to do something about this. I floated the idea that green flags ought to be required to be renewed and that this ought to involve reaching a higher standard than before. The first of these points caught on a while back, but not the second – unless that is what merit / distinction represents.
It seems to me that there’s likely to be an economic rationale behind this shift. Nothing wrong with that, of course as these are difficult times. The questions are: will it strengthen or weaken the student experience and improve or diminish the school outcomes? Time will tell.