05th July 2023

Growing Greener Sussex

The Growing Greener Sussex event took place on Tuesday 4th July at Plumpton College's new Agrifood Centre. The event brought together Further Education colleges from across Sussex to discuss green initiatives and the next steps towards improving student engagement, embedding sustainability in curriculum and the journey towards net zero. We heard from speakers including BHASVIC student Ilse - Environment Officer for the outgoing Student Union - Steve Frampton MBE - and a representative from the Department for Education's Climate Education & Sustainability Unit. The speakers outlined the key issues facing colleges and encouraged bravery and collaboration to make positive change.

BHASVIC student Ilse addressed the audience, speaking passionately about the need to embed sustainability education across the entire curriculum and to maximse student engagement. 'Education on the climate crisis should not be limited to students taking Geography, Chemistry & Environmental Science. Education for sustainable development for all is vital', 'Students need to be taught not just the science but why it matters and how it impacts the most vulnerable in society'. Ilse has recently secured a position at SOS (Students Organising for Sustainability), training students to 'teach the teacher' to be more confident in delivering sustainability topics in their lessons. 

After the keynote speeches representatives from different colleges across Sussex shared their experiences of how to improve sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint in and around college. Students in attendance then entered into a discussion group with Steve Frampton on what people in positions of power should do benefit them, as Steve put it 'Students are our future'. Students voiced frustration around the reluctance of those who hold the power to make the changes that need to happen. Steve raised the issue of an increase in environmental anxiety in students in all ages and the impact on the mental health of young people. Students explored ideas of how to address this, including speaking about it in form time, connecting students across different colleges, and the need for people with power to listen to their voice.

The event was documented by BHASVIC student Benji who worked with BHASVIC Communications & Marketing departments as part of Skills Week. Here Benji shares some of his thoughts from the day:

'I came into the day completely unaware of what is being done within education to address the impact of climate change. Throughout the day I learnt about the passion the people involved had towards this issue and spoke to numerous individuals about what action is being taken. For the first portion of the day all attendees listened to speakers describe their role in shaping the climate change action for schools and what they think needs to be done. Afterwards the students involved had a discussion with Steve Frampton about the changes needed in schools and colleges from their perspective. In this discussion I was confused at times as I didn't have the same knowledge as other students, however I gained understanding through the debate and was able to question some of the ideas about what is actually being done to mitigate against climate change. I was left feeling frustrated that some of the great ideas expressed were not going to be heard by the people who could put these actions in place. As a whole I found the day to be very insightful and left feeling a lot more comfortable with speaking about climate change in education however I believe the voice of the students involved need to be heard by those in power as they have knowledge and experience to lead the way.'