Colleges from across East Anglia have united to champion sustainability and green skills within education.
To do so, representatives from City College Norwich, College of West Anglia, East Coast College, Suffolk New College and West Suffolk College created an all-day event that took place at The Hold in Ipswich this week.
Around 100 guests made up of college staff and students, stakeholders and industry representatives attended the first ever ‘New Anglia Green Skills Conference’.
Speakers included Stephen Frampton (Further and Higher Education Climate Commissioner), Darryl Newport (Professor of Energy and Sustainable Development at the University of Suffolk), Richard Carter (Sustainability Lead at West Suffolk College) and Paul Leedham, (Managing Director of Matrix Energy Systems).
One of the key organisers of the conference was Emma Taylor, Director of Growth, Innovation and Strategic Projects at Suffolk New College. Emma said: “This collaborative project has seen colleges in Norfolk and Suffolk join forces to embed sustainability across our campuses in teaching, learning and facilities. During the summit, we were able to reflect on our green skills project activities and share common themes with our partner Colleges.
“At Suffolk New College, project investments have included hybrid and EV cars for our forthcoming Net Zero Skills Centre, high-tech sustainable agriculture equipment for our teaching farm at Suffolk Rural in Otley, and the development of a sustainable planting scheme for the Smart House at BT Adastral Park in partnership with the University of Suffolk. We are also planning a two-day Sustainability Festival for students later in March.
“The more we work together, share ideas and highlight our green skills efforts, the more it will become part of our everyday working culture. Thanks to everyone for supporting this landmark event that is the starting point for positive change.”
David Pomfret, Principal at College of West Anglia, said: “College of West Anglia (CWA) are fully committed to developing a retrofit and renewables skills offer and embedding sustainability across all curricula. CWA are leading a collaborative green skills partnership across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough and are a partner in the New Anglia Colleges project. Supporting businesses and our communities to transition to carbon net zero is emerging as one of the top priorities in the Local Skills Improvement Plans and our colleges are responding to the challenge.”
Rachel Bunn, Director for Commercial, Projects and Community at East Coast College, said: “East Coast College has been working in partnership with other regional colleges as part of a funded sustainability project. The project has allowed the college to purchase a range of teaching equipment to aid new courses, including hybrid car charging, wind energy and hybrid car simulators, as well as the use of virtual reality to support awareness in high risk areas. The project has also enabled staff to receive industry-led training in specific aspects of sustainability and clean energy, and this will enable teaching to remain current and industry relevant.”
Jo Kershaw, Vice Principal Curriculum and Quality at City College Norwich said: “It’s been really inspiring to share ideas and learn from other colleges in the region about their approaches to sustainability.
“Sustainability has been a major focus of staff development at City College Norwich this year, giving rise to a number of projects looking at how we can be more sustainable within departments and as a whole college community. For example, we are now working with Sustrans to improve the sustainable transport options for students and staff travelling to and from our Easton College campus.”
Andrew Wheeler, Executive Director of Curriculum Initiatives at West Suffolk College said: “Sustainability and green skills are such an important aspect of our daily lives and of course for the economic development of the region. We were able to discuss the green skills that are needed for the region and talk about the need for behaviour change among all of us as individuals in order to make the environment a less volatile place. During this event, we shared with others how at West Suffolk College we have created a sustainability centre that is responsible for developing green skills and we are committed to becoming a carbon literacy centre. We are also in the process of rolling out IEMA courses and sustainability training for staff, we have created an air source pump centre and we were able to showcase all aspects of our green skills efforts over the last six months. It was a pleasure to be involved.”
The event was supported by the New Anglia Green Skills project which is funded by the Strategic Development Fund from the Department for Education.