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Beacon Award Commended College Synopses 2022/23 - The Nous Group Award for Education for Sustainable Development


BHASVIC (Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College) as part of FE Sussex partnership

Over the last years our college has developed award-winning collaborative practice, leadership and advocacy around sustainability, climate education and climate justice. ESD is strategically embedded in our college identity, ethos and practice; supporting staff and curriculum development and student voice as we progress our NetZero and Roadmap Action Plans. Alongside a strong moral purpose, our ESD work is collaborative, aspirational, innovative and strategic. Over 2021/22, our colleges partnership collaborated on a DfE Skills Accelerator project to improve Green industry, technology and skills locally. This was a response to BEIS, a complement to our Local Skills Improvement Partnership and an opportunity to enrich collaboration and develop new and interesting practice. Overall, the project invested more than £7M in new learning resources, staff training, employer updating and student awareness-raising across the county and comprised five workstrands: Electric Vehicles, Decarbonisation, ZeroCarbon Land Management and Hydrogen Technologies. With our experience in effectively integrating ESD strategically and practically, our college developed and led the ESD / Carbon Literacy workstrand - the only activity to involve all eight colleges, providing a vital underpinning of knowledge for all other workstrands, testing a flexible and innovative model of short course, curriculum development, training and employer-engagement.

Education Training Collective

The Green Initiatives Group (GIG) has helped to drive and support the college group’s pledge to reduce its carbon footprint by improving sustainability, increasing recycling, and cutting back on general waste and energy consumption. The GIG is founded on a base of autonomy and a desire to do better. We empowered our staff members with a passion for the environment to create the group as a vehicle to drive positive environmental change. What started with sharing and introducing simple ideas, such as swapping disposable plastic knives and forks for biodegradable alternatives in cross-group food outlets and incentivising the use of reusable cups, quickly grew to the development of the Green Strategy and embedded culture we have today. Sustainability is now integrated into the group’s strategic priorities and planning and environmental impact has become a factor in the decision-making process at every level of the organisation.

EKC Group

The project is about the Group’s journey towards a more sustainable culture which started with the students at one of our colleges and continues to be student led to make small but achievable changes. The Student Union requested the chair of the local governing board to declare a climate emergency. This request was taken to the Full Governing Body for the Group, which inspired the commitment to develop a strategy that set out our commitment for the next four years and beyond. The Group committed £100K to sustainability projects that would support the strategy, including commissioning the Carbon Trust to measure our baseline, so we would be able to set realistic and measurable targets. The strategy is based on seven themes: 1. embedding sustainability through good governance, 2. building knowledge and capacity, 3. working in partnership, 4. making the most of our resources, 5. encouraging biodiversity on our college estate, 6. encouraging greener staff and student travel choices 7. working to promote environmental commitments. In response to this a Climate Change working group was developed attended by staff and students that meets six times a year which drives forward key initiatives.

Weston College

Over a 10 year sustained period, the College has delivered impressive impact led by a visionary Principal as an early green skills pioneer/adopter of social action creating c.£50m state of the art BREEAM campuses. Since finalising its carbon reporting baseline as part of its FE Roadmap work, it has spent its time as part of the ‘Beyond the Roadmap’ project, triangulating both its inclusive ethos and green aspiration, into a clear and concise Sustainability and Social Action (SSA) Framework. The work has seen impressive mobilisation using a ‘Hub and Spoke’ management model, with the College’s award winning specialist inclusive practitioners co-constructing innovative green micro ‘learning companies’ with SEND learners - to create green entrepreneurial levelling up work experience opportunities. At the core, sits an inclusive ambition ‘to create a green, lean, socially responsible culture for students and staff to work together to build a ‘Net Zero College of the Future’, championing green jobs/growth/careers - with higher technical apprenticeships/degrees progressing an active employer led decarbonisation agenda linked to its IoT/University Centre. Its impressive student immersion is using conference summit style learning, to ‘stretch every sinew and buzz every neurone’ - linking student led social action with collaborative campaigns e.g. #LetsGoNetZero to build a more sustainable, dynamic community.

New City College

‘What does it take to become a greener college?’ We asked ourselves this question for the first time in 2020 when the Climate Action Roadmap for FE Colleges was published. Through a mixture of structured strategy implementation and roll-out of pilot initiatives, we have become known as one of the leading colleges on environmental sustainability in the last two years. We now know our carbon footprint and can demonstrate a reduction in it; we know the cost of decarbonising our estate and have submitted funding requests for the first two projects; we have dedicated staff, teams and committees working on environmental sustainability and have trained 400+ staff and students on carbon literacy and other areas of environmental sustainability. This is a case study about the ‘how’ of becoming a greener college where some of the key ingredients have been: • Senior management support at CEO and Corporation level • Investment into in-house staff resourcing through a full-time Environmental Sustainability Manager post • Creation of dedicated fora with staff and students to drive the agenda forward • Roll-out of carbon literacy training • Awareness of progress against targets on a dedicated staff intranet page • Use of freely available technical advice and sharing of practice between organisations.

Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education

The Trashion Show is the catalyst for a core of a sustainability strategy. When something is fully inclusive and enjoyable, is it easy to see why people want to get involved. The Trashion Shop invites people to reuse waste and create a catwalk outfit and staged experience to a large audience. But it is so much more than that. By harnessing interest, we bring in speakers to inform us, have developed on-line courses, revitalised the campus and policies, have action-plans across every aspect of college life, with all staff and students as custodians. We recognise differences in practices to personalise vocationally geared plans, using positive action to create a wide variety of platforms to get involved. Not everyone like to be on stage, but everyone can do something to make a difference, WE can make a difference, we ARE making a difference. We work with local communities and employers to understand our true potential to make the world a more sustainable place to be not only by learning, but by harnessing what each and every individual can do. Everything we do is viewed through a green lens. Sustainability is the heartbeat of the college. The impact is undeniably immense not only in terms of imparting learning and being action conscious now, but in creating a greener environment and a future sustainably literate workforce for tomorrow.