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Colleges have a big challenge in front of them and they’re taking it seriously. The challenge? The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These are 17 of the most pressing global issues and the UK has signed up, alongside 192 other member states, to tackle them by 2030. For the UK to stand a chance of fulfilling its responsibility – everybody needs to contribute.

We often hear about Higher Education and the strides they are taking towards sustainability, but Further Education and its colleges are regularly the unsung heroes. Their innovation, aspiration and global perspective goes far beyond their size.

So what are colleges doing?

Borders College in Scotland are working hard to deliver on Goal 7, ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ and recently won a Green Gown Award for the UK’s first heating plant using sewage and waste water. The system will provide 95% of their campus heat requirements – reducing risks of energy price fluctuations as well as saving the college money.

The College of West AngliaAlso leading the way on Goal 7 is the College of West Anglia in Cambridgeshire. They have achieved a 51% reduction in their carbon emissions since 2009/10. Not only are they pioneering the latest technology such as solar PV, biomass boilers, air source heat pumps but also low-tech initiatives such as LED lighting, rainwater harvesting and improved cycle facilities.

But it’s not just all about carbon and energy. Colleges are key in terms of community and partnership. Ayrshire College in Scotland are fine examples of this with their Green Gown Award winning project that links student learning with the health and wellbeing of older adults in their community. It is a true win-win, with the students gaining valuable learning experiences and the older adults improving their fitness. This initiative encapsulates Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals.

Colleges have a big impact on their local communities and are often hubs. City College Peterborough for example provide cheap (even free!) meals as part of their CommUNITY Meet and Eat programme. Bringing people together and reducing socially isolation and food poverty (Goals 1 and 2; No Poverty and Zero Hunger) while supporting integration and cohesion.

Of course, colleges need to have the right leadership to help them contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals. South Lanarkshire College in Scotland is lucky to have such a leader in their Depute Principal Angus Allan, winner of the Green Gowns’ Leadership Award. Angus’ passion, energy and ambition to drive sustainability to the heart of his college is not only outstanding but an inspiration. He is a leader who knows and understands what it means to successfully push and embed this agenda into campus planning, learning space innovation, lesson plans and course development.

How do you make whole institutional change in Further Education?

There are a lot of examples of best practice, many already outlined, but the 2017 policy statement from Bridgend College has to be one of the best models of top down leadership we have seen. They are wholly committed to the protection of people's health and wellbeing, its estate, the natural world and the prevention of pollution in all its forms. This commitment has the full support of the Governing Body and the Principal who is ultimately responsible for its execution and ensuring that it is a prime concern of all members of staff and students.

Going forwards some of their targets include:

  • Demonstrate extraordinary leadership and develop extraordinary leaders throughout the organisation to help us achieve our health, wellbeing, safety and natural world goals
  • Maintain the Platinum level of the Corporate Health Standard for wellbeing and safety
  • Become a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Accord

According to the Association of Colleges, in 2017 151,000 people are studying Higher Education in a college and the average FE college works with around 600 businesses to provide training for their staff. If every college put people, planet and peace at the core of their ethos – every year, 151,000 more people would understand why we need to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, and 168,000 businesses would be more aware that globally, there is not inclusive and equitable quality education for everyone and that they can help tackle this.

Together, further education can make a huge difference on a local and global scale.

These initiatives are a shining example of the power further education possesses and the importance those that work and study within it place on creating a better world and a new generation of change agents.

Iain Patton, Chief Executive at the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC)

About Environmental Association for Universities & Colleges (EAUC): They encourage all colleges to

  1. Look at the examples from the Green Gown Awards and get inspired,
  2. Sign up to the SDG Accord and find out what you can do on an institutional level,
  3. Reach out to other colleges that have already started their journey, and
  4. Think about what you want your institution’s lasting legacy to be.

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

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We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


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