Saintfield’s Sandra gets recognition for environment work

Saintfield’s Sandra gets recognition for environment work

5 June 2024

A SAINTFIELD woman has been presented with a major award recognising her leading work in environmental education.

Sandra Patterson was presented with the Royal Metrological Society’s Educator Award which  recognises her work at Ulidia Integrated College for the past 16 years.

The award ceremony took place on board the HMS Belfast moored on the Thames with Mrs Patterson delighted to receive it.

Head of geography at the Carrickfergus campus, Mrs Patterson has successfully led the school department to develop a reputation for being groundbreaking and innovative. 

She has developed many resources within the department which are designed to develop student skill base and increase scientific curiosity. 

And she is keen to support her professional community by sharing resources regularly with her colleagues across the sector. 

The Saintfield teacher’s ethos of being a supportive educator and colleague have created an ethos of collaboration, both within her department and her educational sector. 

Her commitment to climate teaching has enabled her to lead not only her department to successfully being awarded the Met Mark twice, but also to Ulidia Integrated College being awarded Ambassador Eco School for Northern Ireland, twice. 

In addition, Mrs Patterson has developed innovative approaches to climate education, including developing a whole school environmental education programme to support students to develop a curiosity regarding climate and climate change and then want to address their seen changes. 

She worked collaboratively with many other departments in the school to develop this approach and to build an inclusive cross-curricular programme.

A data-led investigative approach has been used by Ulidia to identify positive ways forward and has given learners a desire to want to make a difference to reduce their contribution to climate change. 

Mrs Patterson has led students to develop an energy reduction app and helped ensure Ulidia became the first zero waste to landfill post-primary school in Northern Ireland.? 

At COP26 in Glasgow two years ago she was invited to highlight her approach and the insights she has learnt along the way with a global audience of decision makers.? 

She is committed to ongoing professional development and to supporting others and has led national training for teachers from across Northern Ireland, also sharing her resources and methods with many schools in order to further study of weather and climate in Northern Ireland.? 

After receiving the award, she highlighted the Ulidia Integrated College staff team and the importance of integrated education.

“I am honoured to receive this award. It is a testament to all those who supported my educational journey, principally my parents and grandparents. I am supported in every way by my husband and children to whom I am eternally grateful,” Mrs Patterson continued.

“Importantly, I want to recognise my colleagues. I am very proud to be a member of the Ulidia Integrated College team

“I work with the best group of professionals who are committed to each child that we have the honour of educating and who inspire me each day. I would also like to recognise the support of both the ‘Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’ team and the WomenEd NI team, whose support has been instrumental.”

Mrs Patterson said she considered it a “privilege” to teach and value the responsibility of shaping tomorrow’s society, especially within the integrated education sector. 

She added: “Environmental education is my geographical passion. I am reminded every day of the importance of understanding our atmosphere and the impact that human actions are having upon it.

“It has never been more important to share with our young people both a desire and the know how to protect our globally shared environment.”

Mrs Patterson also thanked all her students over the years for “challenging and inspiring her” in equal measure and whose educational journey it has been a privilege to be part of.