Three small wind turbines are providing Swanton Morley Primary School in Norfolk with working examples of the future of the energy sector, which is likely to be incorporated into next year’s curriculum, as well as cutting the school’s energy bills.
The school first became interested in having turbines installed after Head Teacher Richard Lord watched with interest as Windcrop installed a turbine at the grounds of the neighbouring village hall to bring free electricity to the community.
Richard explained: “As capital investment in schools has been reduced by almost 75 percent, any opportunities to invest in a greener future are often high on aspiration lists but rarely come to fruition. When I spotted the turbines at the local village hall it seemed like such a great idea, but I had reservations that the cost would be too prohibitive for an immediate investment in our own turbine at the school.
“When we found out that Windcrop were able to provide, install and maintain the turbine at no cost to the school it became a simple decision to go ahead. Not only will the turbines cut the school’s energy bills, they have the added advantage of providing an educational resource for the children at the school, a fun and new way of learning which we hope to incorporate into next year’s curriculum.
“Our year six class, aged 10-11, are already looking at energy production. Having working examples of the future for the energy sector immediately visible from the classroom window is making the learning process so much easier. Although we’ve not yet had any children say they want to work on wind turbines when they grow up, we do genuinely believe that the increase in awareness and familiarity will also ultimately grow into a future appetite for careers in renewable energy.”
To help provide educational tools, Windcrop provides monitoring and data collection systems for all school installations which can help with maths, science and other curriculum subjects.
One pupil at Swanton Morley Primary School in particular has taken a real shine to the turbines. Daniel aged 10 from Year 6 even logs in to at home to monitor their performance for the day and reporting back.
“I think it is really good that we have got the turbines,” said Daniel. “Our teacher gave them names and it has been really interesting to check which one of Tom, Dick or Harry, is performing the best.”
All 155 pupils in attendance at Swanton Morley Primary are actively encouraged to monitor the turbines activity by logging in at school and at home to measure the energy usage. This active encouragement familiarises the children with all aspects of energy, from units to consumption, but is also indirectly improving maths and graph creating skills.
Richard continued: “By installing the turbines we have succeeded in our aspiration to utilise renewable energy, with the added advantage of having an educational resource close to hand as well as potentially reducing electricity costs by a substantial amount.
“It’s still early days to know by exactly how much the turbines will reduce the school’s energy bills. But whatever they can help us save financially, whether it’s a couple of hundred or a few thousand pounds, it will be put back directly into improving the resources for the children. So the turbines are making a significant impact across the board.”
The 15 metre high turbines were promptly installed during Swanton Morley Primary’s half-term holidays so their arrival did not cause any disruptions to classes and have attracted nothing but positive reactions since their arrival.
“Word is spreading about the benefits of having a small wind turbine,” concluded Richard. “Since we’ve had our turbines installed a number of head teachers at other schools across the county are also now looking into getting them as well.”