Sr Margaret Atkins OSA

Dare to dream!

Imagine that your school has become the Winner of the 2030 National Laudato Si’ School Award. What will it look like?

This blog is a shortened summary of my dream. Here are some of my highlights.

“The first step was to establish School Councils in senior and junior schools so that pupils could be fully involved at every stage.

“Grace was reintroduced at all the school meals, mentioning all those involved in producing the meal. An annual blessing of the crops from the vegetable garden was introduced.

“The RE and Geography and Art Departments combined on a project about justice and climate change. English and Languages explore writing about the natural world, while Music create liturgies about Creation. Maths have costed the results of the energy-saving campaign, planned composting of waste food and worked out orders for seeds.

“The organic vegetable garden, where each class spends one afternoon a week, provides vegetables for the schools’ canteens and for the Parish Centre Food Club.

“Business Studies students organised the initial energy audit, then applied for grants, and helped select the companies used for improvements. There is talk of collaborating locally on a Community Energy supply using waste heat from a local factory.

“The ‘Dark Skies’ project has dramatically reduced light pollution; an art student won a prize with her photos of the night sky.

“Waste was reduced by 40% by surveying stuff being thrown away and asking everyone to review whether they needed to use it in the first place. Staff and pupils were invited to take a ‘no-plastic pledge’.

“Uniforms are made of strong, well sewn, organic materials, and designed not to ‘go out of fashion’. Most pupils buy them second-hand in the Waste Not Want Not Shop in the Parish Hub.

“The Geography Department designed an integrated Transport System, which included safe walkways and walking companions on popular routes, staff travelling on buses with pupils, and car-sharing where essential. Chemistry students report an improvement in air quality of 50% over two years.

“Forest School activities range from mud-play sessions for the Pre-School Club to tree-felling qualifications taken by some of the senior students.

“The Art, Design and Technology Centre is at the centre of the lives of the two Schools. Well equipped and always busy, it is known as ‘Local Circle’: everything that is made should be part of a circular and local economy. Students know where their materials come from and end up, and design things that are useful, beautiful, durable and easy to repair and disassemble, and ultimately biodegradable or fully and locally recyclable. The focus is on things that can be used locally, such as cleaning brushes taken home, chairs for the Kindergarten, a beautiful set of candlesticks for the Church and a games table for the Social Hub.

“A Year 11 Water Project resulted in a 30% saving in water bills, through installing water butts, consciousness-raising about running taps, and helping Kitchen Staff learn better practices.

“With all this activity, how come no one seems stressed? The schools have taken seriously the idea that time belongs to God, and that if we do what we should, without hurrying or panicking, he will make good our efforts. If people are too busy, they do fewer things well, rather than more badly. There is an unwritten rule that anxiety about exam grades must never drive anyone’s choices.

“The Vocations Centre (n.b not ‘Careers Advice’) focuses on challenging students with the question: ‘How will you find joy in using your gifts to serve others?’. Many go on to work in farming and gardening, catering, healthcare and teaching, the priesthood or religious life. Those who go into ‘ambitious’ jobs such as business, banking or law tend to work in innovative ways.”

For the full version of my dream, see ‘The Dream School’ doc download.

But this is YOUR dream not mine … so get started yourselves. Get out your pens and crayons, your notebooks and papers, your laptops and phones, and most of all get together with your friends, then your teachers or students. Share your dreams and start to live them! That is the only way for the world to become the place we would like it to be.

Share your dream

If you would like to share your dream with others on this website please write to us at with ‘Dare to Dream’ in the subject.

About the Author

Sr Margaret is a Canoness of St Augustine in the community at Boarbank Hall in Cumbria. She was a Senior Lecturer in Theology at Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds. She has particular interests in virtue ethics, in the ethics of healthcare and of the environment, and in St Augustine.

She is author of Catholics and Our Common Home