Inspiring change through positive stories

Inspiring change through positive stories

Guest Blog from LESS CO2/Ashden, Alex Green (Schools Programme Manager)

At Ashden, it’s not just about saving energy to help cut costs. It’s about sustainable energy for all, which means improving people’s quality of life. We do this by telling stories. Stories about people all over the world, about their everyday lives, and how we can all help to create a world where everyone has access to sustainable energy.
In the UK, Ashden runs the LESS CO2 programme, which helps schools work together to save energy. Because nobody wants to learn or work in an over-heated, badly lit school. And, because understanding local and global sustainability issues will support a better quality of life for us all in the future.

Thanks to our Bank of America Merrill Lynch funded programme, through our series of workshops, the schools taking part learn about amazing schools and organisations that are taking action to be more sustainable.
The schools learn from Tommy, a Year 3 child from Marton Primary in Lincolnshire, about how students can become energy monitors and take action in their own school. Tommy explains how his fellow students all work together to make sure that lights and equipment are switched off when not needed. Tommy says, ‘Anyone can do it, it’s just the flick of a switch’!

Tommy from Marton Primary School shows off their light switch labels

The children are eager to get involved and encourage their other classmates to join in. They very quickly take the lead in their school’s energy-saving activities, keeping a sharp eye on anyone who forgets to switch off the lights.
We also take our schools a bit further afield to learn about using hydro power in two contrasting locations. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Northern Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border, is one of the most remote and challenging areas of the world to live, but access to phones, internet and TV give them new skills and a window to the world. In contrast, although not remote, with an abundance of hills and streams, rural Wales is also the ideal location for generating sustainable electricity from hydro power.
Sometimes the technology is the real story. Across many continents, people are using wonderful renewable energy technology to help make their lives better. One example is biogas – using animal (and human!) waste to generate a sustainable gas for fuel. Our schools find our biogas resource film fascinating, not only hear about how it works, but how it is changing people’s lives.
And, hey, you show me a Year 3 child who doesn’t want to learn about the power of poo!

A biogas plant at a women’s hostel in Trivandrum

We inspire staff in schools to teach about sustainability, and to make changes in their own schools to save energy. Staff engagement soars when they carry out the suggested quick wins from the first workshop and realise the impressive results that can be achieved by doing something as little as turning the school’s temperature down by one degree.
Our LESS CO2 programme has shown that schools can become more energy aware, and when they are given the right information and support, they start saving energy. Schools that take part in the LESS CO2 programme don’t only improve their awareness of sustainability within their teaching, they also reduce their energy bills on average by 14%. Now that’s a positive story to share!
We are currently recruiting schools for the 2018-19 LESS CO2 intake. To find out more and register your interest, please visit our website at

ESD at the Association for Science Education Conference

ESD at the Association for Science Education Conference


For the last few years the Association for Science Education conference has had a dedicated Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) strand. Following this strand meant I could attend many key workshops on this theme without clashes. Margaret Fleming, an ASE trustee and SSA board member, actively recruits for workshops on this theme. Indeed Henry Greenwood’s workshop (see below) was one of these and SEEd hosted a workshop on ‘Using the Sustainable Schools Doorways’.

This year teachers were able to attend workshops on this theme for free through Global Learning Programme (GLP) e-credits. SEEd and many of our member organisations are offering varied CPD for free through the extensive GLP CPD calendar, ensuring that sustainability is emphasised within global learning.

It was great to see other organisations in the Sustainable Schools Alliance represented at the conference. Green Schools Project founder, Henry Greenwood, delivered a workshop entitled ‘Get Your School To Go Green!’ In the session, attendees looked at the benefits of giving their students the opportunity to take part in a variety of environmental projects and the barriers and challenges that often get in the way. They got hints and tips from a case study and then created an action plan that they could take back to their school.

The ASE conference has a packed programme and the first session I headed for was on ‘Environmental Education in Secondary Education’ led by Melissa Glackin from Kings College London. This provided very useful context to the whole ESD strand through a brief background in policy and status of environmental education. Participants were invited to get some gripes of their chest and then think big as part of contributing to a national study exploring the current and potential future trajectory of EE.

I decided to venture off the ESD strand to attend a workshop titled ‘Child-led Enquiry: What does it look like in practice?’ supported by the Primary Science Teaching Trust. On arrival, the hosts and ASE volunteers were dashing about trying to get more chairs and resources as people streamed in. There must have been at least 50 attendees, twice as many people as expected. Word must have somehow got around that this was going to be a hands-on and insightful workshop with a bit of ‘awe and wonder’ thrown in for good measure. It was heartening to see so many teachers enthused and wanting to facilitate more child-led learning.

Next up I couldn’t resist checking out ‘Going Bananas for Food Security’ hosted by the Eden Project. Participants were given the background about Panama disease, a destructive fungus that is affecting banana production, and guided through a KS4 practical which replicates current academic into the potential for alliums (garlic, onions, etc) to reduce the disease. A safe but smelly microbiology practical with an excellent opportunity to bring conversation about current global issues into the school lab.

Using the Nature and Biodiversity Doorway

The SEEd workshop was designed to bring the new Doorway to life. When the Sustainable Schools Framework was created in 2007 nature and biodiversity was a cross-cutting theme through the eight Doorways. Working with Sustainable Schools Alliance members, in particularly RSPB Learning, SEEd is working to put nature and biodiversity in a core position and not lose its significance in the other existing Doorways.

Workshop participants were given the opportunity to reflect on work they currently undertake that fits under the other Doorway headings and consider if/ how it is related to biodiversity. We covered nature and biodiversity theory in a nutshell; the interplay of five key concepts – Energy, Cycles, Conditions, Communities and Change (E4Cs) and the systems of the Tree of Life, everything is in the process of change and Web of Life, everything is connected to everything else. Doug Hulyer, who developed the E4Cs of Life model in the 1980s and has produced the backgrounder for the Doorway, considers understanding these terms as the foundation of ‘ecological literacy’.

The participants were pleased to find out that the curriculum links document provided wasn’t a list of SEEd’s suggestions (which would be more ambitious anyway) but was actually lifted from the current National Curriculum, for example KS3 Chemistry – earth as a source of limited human resources and the efficacy of recycling. A perfect opportunity to consider energy, cycles, conditions and the Tree of Life.

A Doorway framework is being developed to enable teachers and senior leaders to consider how this theme can be addressed and inspirational across the curriculum, campus and activities with the wider community. Participants used the framework to analyse a project by which activities are about nature and biodiversity, which take place in a new or outside environment and which are moving students towards thinking and acting for a better ecosystem.

None of the participants were classroom teachers in the UK and were clearly already motivated to address sustainability issues through education. When I asked the question ‘how do we get other people in this room who aren’t already part of the conversation’ the compelling response was ‘why aren’t we in other rooms?’.

Maybe we need to challenge ourselves to be the ones in different conversations .
For example – both the Primary Science Teaching trust and the Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM), are at the forefront of exciting developments in primary science education. If you are a primary teacher interested in doing work on ESD check them out, certainly you could use this work as criteria to gain PSQM.

This brings me back to the highly popular child-led enquiry workshop. There was no mention of sustainability in the workshop description or indeed in the session itself but the methods being demonstrated were highly applicable for making effective use of the nature and biodiversity doorway. Clearly the pedagogies and competencies aligned with Learning for Sustainability also appear in many other subjects and approaches – and maybe this is where we need to be looking to set the building blocks of learning about and in nature, supporting a dynamic learning for the future.

SDG Teach In – Monday 19th to Friday 23rd February

SDG Teach In – Monday 19th to Friday 23rd February

From the 19th to 23rd February 2018 NUS are holding their first ever “SDG Teach In” to raise awareness of why the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be at the heart of further and higher education, and help catalyse the change needed to make this happen.

To date, 110 teaching staff across 24 institutions have pledged and will reach 6,735 students during the week.

Sustainable Schools Alliance (SSA) members are getting behind this initiative and supporting primary and secondary schools they work with to include the SDGs, often referred to as the Global Goals, in their lessons during the week. The educational work of SSA members collectively touches on all of the SDGs so this initiative can take many inspiring forms. Pledges, projects and case studies will be added to this blog as the happen.

Anyone can share what they are doing educate and inspire action on the SDGs – @NUSsustainable  #SDGTeachIn

Members Pledges for Action

Green Schools Project is using this opportunity to encourage their four university student volunteers to speak to the school students they are meeting about the SDG’s. They will enable the classes to understand how the projects they are working on related to the SDG’s.
As the quote goes, ‘the best way to learn is to teach’.

Hawthorns School are teaching the SDG’s to Year 6 and Year 8. The Year 8 students will be researching and creating powerpoint presentations about the different SDG’s in their ICT lessons.

Target 4 Green has been very busy having just completed the 5th Beyond COP 21 Symposium in Dubhi and leading a teacher CPD session with a focus on SDG 12 – Responsible Production & Consumption. Target 4 Green founder Peter Milne said ‘Through working on the goals identified with #12, a positive effect on other SDGs can be achieved; in particular No Poverty, Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-Being’.

1World-Unite take students on a voyage of discovery through their monthly newsletter which invites them to become more informed about the things that matter and asks ‘so what will you do today?’ Each issue is available to download here and looks at what can be done to address different Global Goals locally and globally.

Outdoor and Sustainability Education Specialists (OASES) and Global Education Centre, York have been delivering CDP sessions with a specific focus on the SDG’s, supported by the Global Learning Programme. Freshly motivated teachers fed back:

‘Lots of signposting to great resources, good ideas of how to implement SDG’s in class’

‘Very good for an introduction to the goals and sharing of ideas’

This week OASES are delegates visiting from Florence, Italy part of the Interreg funded Rebus Project (@Rebus_Project). The training will highlight OASES’s work on Energy Efficiency with schools and other public buildings in order to drive action on SDGs 7 – Affordable & Clean Energy and 13 – Climate Action.

The SSA Coordinator is teaching food growing and leading a visit to a wetland site with primary students during the SDG Teach In week and pledges to introduce the Global Goals symbols in an activities about  Life On Land (and under the soil) and Life Below Water into my sessions, reaching 150 students.

Ten Steps to a More Sustainable School

Ten Steps to a More Sustainable School

Guest blog by Henry Greenwood – Green Schools Project

Teaching Maths at Kingsmead School in Enfield I was frustrated by the lack of awareness of environmental issues, and the lack of opportunities for students to understand the simple steps that they could take to improve the impact that they had on the environment.

Supported by my Headteacher, I developed the as yet un-created role of Sustainability Coordinator, assembled a group of enthusiastic students, and three years later we had saved the school £37,000 in energy bills, had 91% of forms taking part in our recycling programme, grown and sold potatoes, onions and carrots to staff, held Walk to School Weeks which improved the number of students walking to school from 32% to 50%, installed solar panels on the roof of the gym and raised the profile of action environmental action and sustainability in the whole school community.

Here’s a brief outline of how you too could achieve this:

  1. Become the Eco-Coordinator at your school, if this is not currently a role, make it one!
  2. Set up an Eco-team. Any year group that you think would be enthusiastic and willing to go into assemblies to spread the word can form an effective team.
  3. Draw up an Action Plan. Energy should be on there, other good projects to start off with are recycling and growing vegetables.
  4. Collect data on energy usage from past bills. Work with the eco-team to plan a strategy on reducing electricity and gas use.
  5. Get the Eco-team to present assemblies to the whole school. This will raise awareness and gather support for your projects from all the staff and students.
  6. Get your message out there! Get active on social media, create a noticeboard, put messages in the bulletin, get students to write articles for the newsletter and get a page on the school website.
  7. Concentrate on 2 or 3 projects each year, always keeping students as involved as possible.
  8. Measure the outcomes of all your projects – track your energy usage to see how much money you are saving, collect data on recycling, travel to school and any other projects you run so that you can monitor your impact.
  9. Report all the successes widely, keep people informed, and keep the campaigns visible.
  10. Keep going! It’s easy to lose momentum if a project doesn’t go to plan, if students lose focus or a key member of staff leaves the school. The benefits becomegreater the longer the projects run and they become part of daily school life.

This was the most rewarding experience I had in 12 years of teaching, and I’d thoroughly recommend doing it. If it sounds like a daunting project to take on or you are struggling to find time to do all this when you are already busy with everything else that being a teacher involves then there is help for you.

Based on this experience I set up Green Schools Project which provides guides, resources and templates that will take all the time and effort out of achieving this along with visits, tailored energy saving support for your school, and a student login to the website where they can see tasks, upload evidence and compete against other schools. We can also provide a student volunteer from a local university who can help with meetings, motivate the students and support with the projects. Have a look at for more information and get in touch!

Polli:Nation; helping homeless and hungry pollinating insects

Polli:Nation; helping homeless and hungry pollinating insects

Guest blog by Mary Jackson, Learning through Landscapes Projects Manager

Flower-visiting insects play a vital role in the pollination of agricultural crops and wild flowers. The ‘ecosystem service’ they provide through crop pollination is estimated at over £400m per annum in the UK (UK National Ecosystem Assessment, 2011). But these insects are at risk. Polli:Nation is a project that focuses on conserving and restoring habitats for pollinators in an around schools across the UK so that these insects have homes to live in and food to eat.

Did you know that two thirds of our moths and 71% of our butterflies are in long-term decline or that two bumblebee species have become extinct in the last 80 years and other have declined dramatically? This is a worrying situation but we can help.

Polli:Nation is a partnership project led by Learning through Landscapes that is aiming to make a difference. With its partners OPAL (Open Air Laboratories), the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Buglife, TVC, FSE and Stirling University we are helping schools find out which pollinating insects are visiting or living in their grounds, or near by, and then conserve or create new habitats and food sources to encourage more to visit.

To date over 26,000 pupils in 260 schools have been part of the project but we want even more to help us. The OPAL survey is the place to start to find out what are already visiting your grounds, or a site near by. You can download this from the project website – and click on ‘take the survey’. The best time to undertake the survey is March to September as that is when the insects are out and about. You then upload the data onto the OPAL site from where it will be analysed along with everyone else’s information. Reports of the analysis will then be uploaded onto the Polli:nation website.

As well as finding out what it is the grounds already schools are encouraged to create new habitats and food sources for the insects. There are lots of ideas of what you can do on the website, from creating a wildflower meadow to having a bee hive. The survey can then be repeated to see if more insects are visiting the site after the work has been completed in the grounds.

Areas of the curriculum that Polli:Nation links to range from science to the arts at both primary and secondary level. Resources that help you make those links can also be found on the website.

The more people get involved in Polli:Nation the more chance we have of helping feed and house those hungry and homeless insects – insects that ensure we have food and flowers for everyone.

Twitter; @LTL_Pollination

Learning through Landscapes’ vision is that every child benefits from stimulating outdoor learning and play in their education.

We do this through three avenues:

  • advocating the benefits of outdoor learning and play at school and pre school.
  • inspiring and enabling the design and development of outdoor environments to support children’s development.
  • inspiring and enabling teachers and early years practitioners to develop the confidence, ideas and skills they need to make better use of outdoor spaces.

Twitter; @LTL_OUtdoors



RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch 2018

RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch 2018

Guest blog by Rebecca Kerfoot, RSPB.

School children across the UK will be setting up bird feeders, turning classrooms into bird hides and excitedly getting into position, to watch and count the birds in their school grounds for the 2018 RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch.

The survey, which takes place during the first half of spring term (2 January – 23 February), is the biggest wildlife survey in schools. Children are asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in their outdoor space, then send their results to the RSPB.

73,000 school children and teachers took part in the birdwatch in 2017 counting more than 100,000 birds. Now in its 16th year, the survey helps to track numbers of birds in school grounds, providing an insight into which species are doing well or not so well and brings children closer to nature.

The blackbird remained the most common playground visitor for the ninth year in succession with over 88% schools spotting at least one. The top three was rounded off by starling and woodpigeon.

Big Schools’ Birdwatch is a fun and educational activity and is free to every school in the UK. It’s flexible enough to fit into a lesson or during lunchtime and links well to the curriculum or project work. It provides valuable information on how some of our familiar birds are doing.

It also gives children an opportunity to get outside, experience and learn about the nature local to them. The decline in children’s access to nature in the last three generations is well evidenced. And yet research shows that when children are connected to nature it has a positive impact on their education, physical health, emotional wellbeing, and their personal and social skills.

The Birdwatch takes just one hour and teachers can pick any day during the first half of spring term to take part. It works across a wide age and ability range and there’s plenty of flexibility to run it as simply as teachers would like either as the centrepiece of cross-curricular studies, project work, or a way to improve their outdoor space.

Everything schools need to take part is available to download from the RSPB website



ESD pathway at the Association of Science Education Conference, Jan 2018

ESD pathway at the Association of Science Education Conference, Jan 2018

By Margret Fleming

The Association for Science Education Annual Conference 3-6 January 2018

At the University of Liverpool – now free to GLP schools.

This four-day conference brings together over 350 sessions exploring all aspects of science education

A strengthening focus within the conference is Education for Sustainable Development (ESD); you can now select a tailored programme to develop your skills and knowledge in this dynamic field. While few schools formally support the role of sustainability co-ordinator, we recognise this is an area of passion and interest to many teachers and students so aim to offer you the chance to meet practitioners from across the world to share ideas and resources.

The ASE is a contributor to the Global Learning Programme (GLP), ‘which supports teachers to enable students to learn about the challenges our world faces and think critically about how to deal with issues such as climate change and sustainability’. Discussion of these global themes plays a key part in this year’s   International Day, Wednesday 3rd January. Last year we had a description of the ASE work in the GLP and an important keynote by Professor Justin Dillon on the links to ‘Citizen science and ethics’. This year we have a focus on Practical work – John Holman. Both topics of international importance. The ASE Annual Conference is part of the Global Learning Programme, so you can now attend free, using e-credits, if your school is a Partner in the programme. The programme has been extended so schools which have used their £500 eCredits. They can still apply if this is a new type of CPD, Details here.

Attendees can use the ASE Annual Conference to find out more about integrating sustainability issues into day- to-day teaching and link this to a whole-school approach to ESD. They will also be able to find out about funding for projects in your school and how to develop approaches to embedding sustainability issues within science teaching.

The whole programme is online at and the filters mean you can select the Conference Theme – Education for Sustainable Development to see all the sessions of particular interest. SEEd and the Sustainable Schools Alliance have recently launched a new Sustainable Schools Doorway on Nature & Biodiversity, and will be using the ASE conference to describe this in a workshop on Friday 5th January. ‘Using the Sustainable Schools Doorways’   See here for further details of the initiative on this website.

Others include:

‘Trashed World’, ‘Transforming STEM Education: Air Quality as a powerful theme for integration’ and ‘ Get your School to Go Green!’ on Wednesday 3 January.

‘Archaeoschool for the Future’, ‘Frontier Science: Artificial Photosynthesis – making fuels from air, water and light’, ‘How to Reduce the Effects of Climate Change’ and ‘Citizen Science: Sharing knowledge. Inspiring action. Valuing nature’ on Thursday 4 January.

‘Environmental Education in Secondary Science’, ‘Going Bananas for Food Security’, ‘Reaching a Zero Carbon Future’, ‘Polar Explorer Programme’, and ‘Science & the World Around Us: Science and Global Learning’ on Friday 5 January

‘Power for the World: Investigation for understanding and application’, ‘Frontier Science: Oceanography – From Microbes to Global Climate’ and ‘Forest School & Science’ on Saturday 6 January.

Joining the ASE has many benefits alongside cheaper entry to events and our brilliant journals. See here. Members can find an article in May 2017’s Education in Science describing last year’s ESD themes entitled ‘Science sustainability and wicked problems’ here This included  a summary of the talk  by Justin Dillon (see above) which set the scene for last year’s conference. These themes have been also been explored by Justin in another SSA blog here. International members can also access this article, as one of their many benefits.


Finally news of a new EU project ‘Urban science’ I am pleased to be working on this project with Wild Awake . It aims to meet the needs of an urban Europe, where scientists of the future will need the skills and knowledge to create healthy and sustainable cities. Urban Science focuses on how science can develop solutions to urban issues, so motivating pupils to view the positive benefits of science to the urban environment. Urban Science is supporting teachers with exciting and innovative ways to teach science that has real life meaning for their pupils. It also meets the needs of pupils to be competitive in a rapidly changing world where scientific understanding is vital. Look out for us at future SSA, SEEd and ASE events.


NSSC 17 – an inspiring ‘now’ & hope for the future

NSSC 17 – an inspiring ‘now’ & hope for the future

Education Matters because…

‘it is the most powerful tool we can give future generations’ Georgina, 16

Sustainability Matters because…
‘it ensures a future for everyone, all life – even those that don’t have a voice’ Olivia, 16

‘Why can’t we have untested lessons that allow us to explore and emotionally grow. We have to expand our horizons and allow ourselves to be educated

These are just a few quotes from young people who attended the National Sustainable Schools Conference (NSSC) 2017 that can offer reassurance and pride to all of those involved in learning for sustainability, environmental education and global learning; encouragement that young people are listening and thinking critically about the issues of today and the future.

The NSSC, which gathered organisations involved in educating and inspiring people to take action on all aspects sustainability, has been described as ‘a great way to learn from each other and almost more importantly, to support and encourage each other’. Vikki Pendry, Curriculum Foundation.

A big Thank You goes out from SEEd and the Sustainable Schools Alliance to everybody who was involved in making the day a success.

With special appreciation to our opening speakers, James Murray from Business Green and Georgian Stevens with Finn the Tiger Shark.

The conference sponsor Think Global were very busy running Supply Cha!nge workshops all day with;
Fairtrade Foundation, Joanna Mills
Co-op Food, Amy Morris
Marine Stewardship Council, Kate Jones
You can read more about their workshops on the Think Global blog here.

Participating organisations which shared their projects and resources, much off which can also be found on their websites were:

Woodland Trust,
Ashden – LESS CO2
Centre for Alternative Technologies,
Thames Boat Project,
Thames Water,
Cob Oven Man,
Eco Action Games,
Future We Want,
Target for Green,
Being Animal,
School Energy Efficiency,
Queen Katharine Academy,
Blooming Minds

The refreshingly varied and motivating workshops were led by:

Vikki Pendry,- Curriculum Foundation,
Dr David Dixon,
Bobbie Harvey – FACE,
Henry Greenwood – Green Schools Project,
Helen Cox plus students from Sir John Lawes School,
Mary Jackson, Learning through Landscapes
Phillipa Slater, City of London Open Space programme
Traci Lewis, Catalyse Change 
Ann Finalyson, SEEd

Many workshop leaders have kindly shared their presentations and other information. You can find them in a shared open access folder here.

Thanks to everyone who made it an inspiring day.

Making a Supply Cha!nge –  National Sustainable Schools Conference 2017

Making a Supply Cha!nge – National Sustainable Schools Conference 2017

This year, Think Global is delighted to be supporting the SSA participation in the National Sustainable Schools Conference through our EU-funded Supply Cha!nge project!

Collaborating with 28 partners across Europe, we’re helping to achieve SDG 12 by raising awareness and encouraging action around responsible consumption and production. There is a particular focus on supermarkets – the products we buy there, and where they come from. What are supermarkets doing to ensure fair working conditions along their supply chains, and achieve sustainable production that protects, rather than damages our environment?


We’re very excited that Co-op Food, as well as Fairtrade Foundation and the Marine Stewardship Council will be at the conference on Monday 13th November to discuss the work they are each doing to achieve ethical and sustainable supply chains. This is a unique opportunity for young people to ask these organisations their questions, and to think critically about the action they can take as consumers, and in their future careers!

If you’d like to find out more about Supply Cha!nge project, check out our project webpage. Following Chocolate Week, you might be interested in the webinar we held with Professor Christopher Tankou from the University of Dschang, Cameroon, about the social and environmental impacts of the global demand for chocolate. Or, if you’re involved in the World’s Largest Lesson with its focus this year on food choices, order a free copy of Think Global’s 2017-2018 wallplanner and check out the accompanying teaching resource around ethical and sustainable consumption.

Finally, take a look at our DoNation campaign, and make your own pledge for sustainability. We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

Catherine Richardson, Think Global

Inspiring the next generation to help create a low-carbon world

Inspiring the next generation to help create a low-carbon world

Guest Blog From Ashden – a Sustainable Schools Alliance member

Ashden’s LESS CO2 programme is a free energy efficiency programme available to any UK school and is not only helping to create more sustainable schools, but also galvanising young people to join the movement for a low-carbon world.

The programme runs over the course of a school year in a series of four half-day workshops, and includes expert advice and resources for staff as well as the opportunity to ask questions, discuss ideas, and brainstorm solutions. The workshops cover various aspects of energy saving, from recording meter readings to monitoring energy use, behaviour change for staff and students, and how to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum.

Local schools work together in geographic clusters of up to 15, sharing information, experiences and advice on how best to tackle energy usage and reduce energy bills.  The chance to learn from other schools is one of the reasons the LESS CO2 programme, which is supported by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, is proving so popular.

Top Tips from a Devonshire School

We asked one of our recent graduating clusters to share some of their advice to schools that are just starting out on their own energy management journey. Here are our Devon schools’ tips to making sustainability a success:

  • Get as much data as you can at the beginning of the process and learn how to calculate savings and payback times. This makes it easier to demonstrate the impact your work will have, and to support any funding requests you make.
  • Start measuring and monitoring what you are currently using in terms of energy.
  • Create short, medium and long-term actions to ensure that you are looking at quick and easy wins, as well as being ambitious with your bigger plans.
  • Don’t underestimate how much time you will need to do this – speaking to other members of staff, reviewing energy data and contacting energy suppliers all takes time. It’s worth investing time in speaking to staff in all departments in your school. Plan in this time.
  • Involve teaching members of staff early on. It’s good to have support from all corners. Help staff understand the cost of energy use at school by putting it into comparative figures they can relate to. For example, the cost of support staff hours in relation to the cost of leaving computers on overnight.
  • Link the building management staff with the teaching staff to ensure that they are working together to save energy in the school.
  • Get students involved – this is a great learning experience for them which they can take into their future education and careers. They are also great at encouraging/nagging staff to switch off their lighting and equipment!

On average, schools that take part in the LESS CO2 programme save 14% of their energy spend in addition to lowering their CO2 emissions.  In the coming year, the programme is looking to recruit more schools in areas of social and economic deprivation.  In order to really embed best practice in energy saving, Ashden is aiming to deliver the programme to 3000 schools by 2021.  Find out more at and follow us on Twitter @LESSCO2

STEM club members make a presentation at the Okehampton Primary School assemby – one of the 11 feeder Primary schools the College has worked with to introduce sustainable energy. The school has just had PV solar panels installed and the theme will be ‘not to waste the energy they are now making for themselves’.Okenhampton College, Devon.