Find out about our achievements and ambitions as we work to deliver our Environmental Policy

Climate and Nature Working Party Achievements 2021/2

We are proud that we are continuing to make progress on making Cheney a more sustainable, and pleasant environment for the whole school community. Over the academic year, the Climate and Nature Working Party has made the following actions and achievements:

Learning Environment
  • Sixth Form Gardening club: We are now enjoying the fruits of the volunteer’s labours with pollinator friendly plants in flower around the school.

  • Cheney Friends and Students are working on a collaboration aimed at ‘Greening Cheney’. Sixth form students helped to write a vision statement and judge designs for outdoor spaces submitted by Brookes University architecture students.

  • A space has been identified for a Cheney allotment.

  • Outdoor learning proposal -  term 6 challenge. Teachers are being encouraged and supported in using the site as an extension of their classrooms.

Curriculum and Student Engagement
  • The Environmental Impact Committee with student representatives from Year 7-11 who have helped plant and look after new trees and supported house competitions.

  • The 6th form committees have made resources for lower school and attended talks. One student went to COP26 as part of the UKSSN group and another chaired an online UKSSN meeting with a talk + Q&A from Kate Raworth.

  • During COP 26, lessons on the theme of global justice were taught in every faculty.

  • This term students are learning about the living systems they are part of, spending time considering what waste is and learning about water and sewage systems as well as what happens to recycling, landfill and food waste.

  • Our recent travel survey found people are keen to get to school by active means (cycle, run, walk, etc.)

  • The student bike sheds have been fixed and are being well used.

  • Staff have participated in a bike trial and walk to work week.

  • On Switch up your lunch day the canteen had vegan and vegetarian food offers, Food tech students made vegan food during lessons and the sixth form held a fundraising cake/treats sale.

  • At the start of the year staff were given duty guidelines with environmental considerations.

  • In February we ran a 90 minute whole staff Inset session looking at the basic facts of EEC and how it related to well-being and inclusion.

  • We set up Special Branch - a call out for parents to help with various things to do with climate and nature has brought a response from a wonderful range of people who made generous offers of help -  we are looking forward to getting in touch with them in the coming year.

Cheney Special Branch 

Across the Cheney community we know there is a huge wealth of skill and knowledge in the environmental sector, relating to all aspects of sustainability.

As a school we'd like to be able to call on community members to help us ensure our students are informed, equipped and empowered to deal with the climate and ecological emergency they face. It's a big and complicated challenge and we're grateful for all the support we can get.  

We are hoping to hear from people with a really wide range of know-how. Perhaps you know how to patch a school jumper or sew up school trousers or maybe you are an experienced gardener. Maybe you work in mental health and have an understanding of eco-anxiety or you are a doctor, who could explain the link between good health and low carbon lifestyles. You might work installing renewable energy sources or as an academic, directly researching climate change.

Whatever your expertise, if you feel it is relevant to climate and nature then we would love to hear from you. We don't ask for any commitment, just permission to get in touch with you if we think you might be able to help. If you’d like to be involved, or want to know more, please fill out the form linked below. 

Educational Aims

Cheney staff are working together to ensure that we are creative, focused and forward-looking when it comes to climate.

The aim is to deliver the best possible climate education; informing, equipping and empowering students to address the climate and ecological crisis.

To this end we are reviewing how the curriculum fits together, looking for opportunities to link topics across subjects. We are developing our teaching approaches so that consideration of sustainability and climate is factored into every topic.

Resources - Waste and Recycling

At Cheney, we strongly encourage staff and students to think sustainably.

Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair

We actively encourage students to recycle effectively in school and at home through discussion and messaging and by modelling correct behaviours.

In the canteen, we are trying hard to reduce our non-recyclable packaging and products and to move towards products made from recycled, recyclable and or biodegradable/compostable materials.

Thanks to regular monitoring provided by Oxford Direct Services, we were able to record a 25% reduction in our general waste from 2019-2020.

We have been proud to be a public collection point for the Terracycle crisp-packet recycling scheme from winter 2018 to winter 2021.

There are several water bottle refill stations on site and we expect all students to bring a refillable water bottle as part of their essential daily equipment.  This will reduce the demand for bottled water.


Energy Use

Did you know that Cheney School benefits from an extensive 90 kWp solar PV array on the roofs of the Lane, John Brookes and Russell buildings?

The panels are owned by Low Carbon Hub, Oxford who installed and maintain them and sell the zero carbon green energy to the school at a discount. This lowers both the carbon foot print of the school as well as the electricity bill. The ‘Feed in Tariff’ revenue goes to Low Carbon Hub, Oxford who invest in social and environmental projects around the city.

Cheney is also one of a handful of UK schools to be actively managing its energy... and achieving impressive reductions.

Since 2016 our Premises Team have been working on cutting energy costs and consumption, with the primary focus of preventing wasteful energy consumption overnight.

In the first year of this energy saving project, the average overnight electricity consumption decreased by 19.5%. This was achieved by analysing data from the main electricity meter and investigating unexpected peaks and patterns. The gas data was overlaid against external temperatures to ensure the boilers were operating correctly. Gas consumption decreased by 14%.

The financial savings from year 1 were reinvested to purchase sub-meters for all eight buildings at school. These are monitored daily and unexpected consumption can be traced to a specific building so that heating, lighting, ventilation and IT equipment can be investigated for faults or failed timer controls etc. and then corrected. This has driven further savings.

Some of the solutions thrown up by our analysis seem simple, but they really make a difference:

  • Reporting any broken heating, ventilation or cooling to Premises Team
  • Turning off all IT equipment at the end of the day and if possible over lunchtime
  • Printing and copying only when needed
  • Not bringing portable heating devices to school
  • Reporting any dripping taps or broken toilets to Premises Team
  • Turning lights off on sunny days
  • Turning lights off when vacating a room

We regularly monitor the impact of actions and projects on energy consumption, measure progress towards reduction targets and report to Governors.

Cheney School is an EnCO Registered Organisation

We are the first school and second organisation in the UK to achieve Energy Conscious Organisation status, the first being Rolls Royce.

Learning Environment (wildlife and biodiversity)

In an urban setting, with busy roads nearby, a large student body and limited green space, the Cheney school site is not the most hospitable for nature. However, we are gradually making progress in making the site more inviting, identifying and valuing our precious resources, improving biodiversity through planting, protection and management and creating a range of habitats.

biodiversity plan

When the students are in lessons or at the beginning and end of the day, there is a surprising amount of bird activity on site:


At Cheney School, students are expected to make their own way to school - it is good for them and good for the planet.

We strongly discourage dropping students off by car, unless there are special circumstances. If your child has a specific need, you can bring them into the school car park to drop them off safely. We recognise that some students have no alternative but to come by car, but we feel that others may do so because of lack of information about, or lack of confidence in the available alternatives. We are keen to promote the alternatives and to help students choose more sustainable forms of transport.

Now's the time to switch to more independent and eco-friendly ways to get to school

Cycling or Walking to School

Please encourage your children to walk or cycle along the quietest routes to minimise their exposure to air pollution.

Students cycling to school are urged to wear helmets, and we welcome your support in encouraging your child to wear a helmet every time they cycle. Wearing one yourself sets a good example. It is also really important to regularly check your bike; as a guide here is a Sustrans CHECKLIST and an informative VIDEO to help.

Cycle racks for students are located by the student entrance on Gipsy Lane and are kept under surveillance and locked during the school day.

The THINK campaign offers information and videos on cycle safety as does SUSTRANS, whilst BIKEABILITY is a national cycling proficiency scheme and complements any training pupils may have received in primary school.

The Highway Code offers information and safety advice for walkers as do the Ramblers. We encourage children to walk together when and where possible and wear visible clothing in the winter months.

Going by Bus

The timetables of buses serving Cheney School can be found on the bus company websites:

Oxford Bus Company   Stagecoach Buses

The KEY CARD is a prepaid travel card that can be topped up at any time and can be cancelled and replaced if it is lost, stolen or damaged. Go to one of the Oxford Bus Company’s travel shops (at 89 Gloucester Green or 44–45 High Street) or go online.


Over the last few years we have taken significant steps to reduce meat consumption in the canteen. We no longer serve red meat (beef or lamb) and offer a wide range of vegetarian (and vegan) alternatives throughout the week. Mondays are entirely meat-free.

Free water is always available in the canteen and around the site, and we expect all students to bring their own reusable water bottles.

Sample menu:

The canteen also serves freshly ground Orang Utan coffee from 8.00-1.00 every day. This is available to 6th Formers, guests and staff only.

In the canteen, we are trying hard to reduce our non-recyclable packaging and products and to move towards products made from recycled, recyclable and or biodegradable/compostable materials.

Recycling back on track - March 2021
Recycling back on track - March 2021 (4)
Recycling back on track - March 2021 (2)
Recycling back on track - March 2021 (3)

Our catering staff collect food waste in the kitchen and we encourage our students to separate their food waste in the canteen.