Children at an Oxford school have proved that they are more than switched on when it comes to energy saving.

As a result, pupils at Sandhills Primary School, in Headington, have become only the fourth school in the country to receive a prestigious award.

After saving 20 per cent on their electricity bills, they won a 'sustainable learning' certificate from the Government in recognition of their energy efficient work.

Maureen Stephens, eco-coordinator at the school, said she and the pupils were honoured to have been acknowledged in this way.

She said: "It is lovely news.

"It is a great honour and is a reflection of everyone's hard work.

"We have a duty as teachers to educate children about these environmental issues.

"They are the future.

"By learning about these things at an early age they will hopefully grow up with them and spread the message about energy efficiency."

Like many Oxfordshire schools, Sandhills receives help from energy consultants Atkins, a company which is employed by the county council to help schools reduce energy use.

Mrs Stephens said: "We could not have achieved all that we have without the help of Atkins. They've been great and have kept us on track."

Among the many ways Mrs Stephens and her energy team have cut the school's energy bills include reminding staff and pupils to turn off lights and computers monitors and keeping a close eye on meter readings.

There are also pupils who act as energy spies, checking lights and monitors are switched off and doors and windows closed, with trophies given to those who do best.

Mrs Stephens added: "We have also done things like asking our caretaker to take out one of the lightbulbs from each light in the corridor, something we haven't noticed a difference from but it's obviously helped save electricity."

Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, presented the award to pupils at a special assembly on Friday.

Staff from Waterperry Gardens at Waterperry, near Wheatley, joined in the celebrations, talking to pupils about growing their own fruit and vegetables.

Headteacher Joe Johnson said: "It was a great day. We've had lots of experts in school helping the children to learn more about their environment and how to protect it.

"We have all tried very hard to save energy - and it's working."

The school was awarded a level three certificate.

Other Oxfordshire primary schools who won level one and two awards include New Marston, in Oxford, Middle Barton, North Leigh and Charlton.