'Colleges stand ready to do everything they can to create a sustainable future' - Association of Colleges responds to new sustainability plans for education

04 Nov 2021

Association of Colleges has responded to the publication of new plans designed to put climate change at the heart of education.

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:

“Achieving net zero is not optional, it is existential, and putting climate change at the heart of education is a vital part of delivering it. This draft strategy from DfE is a good step forward. Colleges stand ready to do everything they can to create a sustainable future through the education and training they support for over 2 million people every year – from young people through to adults.

“COP26 is showing us that creating the green economy and a secure future needs a collaborative, concerted and long-term effort. No single organisation or sector on its own can overcome the climate crisis. The strategy shows that DfE will use its leadership and convening powers to help nudge, encourage and support the collective and individual actions which will move us to net zero, improve biodiversity and change behaviours for a more secure future. This draft strategy sets us on a promising net zero journey for colleges, their students, and other stakeholders who need to come together over the next 6 months to challenge each other to collectively make the differences we all want to see.

“We have already been working at pace through the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education and last month colleges boldly set out their ambitions to deliver the green skills our labour market needs, build sustainability into every subject and to transition their own activities to net zero. There is strong alignment between this strategy and our own approach as set out in The Green College Commitment.

“Young people want to see action and are looking to schools, colleges and universities to empower them with the knowledge and skills that will support them to build a sustainable future. Adults too want to be part of this green future, so we must remove barriers for them in accessing retraining or upskilling to be able to plug skills gaps in priority areas.

"Colleges will do their bit and it looks as though DfE is pledging in this strategy to do its bit too. That has to be welcomed, as long as the strategy quickly moves onto actions and delivery. ”