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Young Geographers Project Leighton Primary School

Why Recycle?

Age Group: Year 5 (to be adapted for Y3)

Selection of Content: We have been working to develop units of study which integrate sustainable topics into our curriculum throughout the school. These units also build on a cross-curricular approach and, at the core, include fieldwork/visits within our local area. The unit was developed and trialled by the teacher who is also the Geography and Science Coordinator.


The children enjoyed analysing their packaging and using the Internet to find out whether it was recyclable. Some children discovered the meaning of the symbols on the plastics and were surprised to find that not all plastics can be recycled. The inconsistency of labelling on packaging and the difficulty of recycling mixed material packaging was also a topic for debate.

Many of the children were already aware of the Maws Lane Landfill Site although they were not sure of its purpose. Some had strong opinions and feelings associated with the area – perhaps those expressed by their parents. At this stage the children decided to save their packaging and take it along with them to the Recycling Centre.

We prepared for the visit by looking at photographs of the Recycling Centre as a group and discussing the hazards and how we could make sure that our visit was safe. They then wrote risk assessments in pairs. This made the children very aware of how to behave – I even overheard some of the accompanying adults being told off for not taking care where they walked! My original planning concentrated on learning about just a few materials, but the children were interested in all.

We could have spent much more time on the follow up work. The children wrote some hard hitting letters to the local newspaper and created some great posters to be displayed around school. We have also extended our recycling to include more materials such as plastic bottles, stamps and mobile phones. A display has also been drawing the attention of other children. Most obvious is the heightened awareness of the children involved.

Further Development

The new unit has been introduced to teachers in year 3 and they have adapted it to incorporate a number of subject areas and extending the work to include art and maths.

Literacy: persuasive writing, letter writing, report writing

Science: magnetism, materials, grouping and changing materials

D&T: packaging

Geography: investigating the local area

Citizenship: developing communication/participation skills/global responsibility

Background information about the school

Leighton Primary School is situated on the north-western edge of Crewe (population 67,683) in an area of regeneration. It draws children (approximately 420) from a wide range of backgrounds. It is, in part, surrounded by a mixture of council housing estates and new housing. On one side the school looks out across pastoral land.

The present school building was built in 1953 and extended in the 1990’s. It has a separate Nursery building on the school site. The grounds are spacious and comprise separate playgrounds for KS1 and KS2 as well as a playing field. We have a developing wild area which is maintained by our active environmental club. Unfortunately we have suffered on occasion with vandalism but this has not prevented us from establishing an outdoor environment which is diverse and stimulating for the children. We also make extensive use of local connections and use our local area in a variety of imaginative ways.

This material was contributed by Wendy Hardman

(Added 21.10.09)

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