Green Schools Revolution: The story so far!

January 25, 2024

The Green Schools Revolution has now been running for a year! Each of our three key strands – Climate Action Plans, Wilding Schools and Teach the Teacher – have made some really great progress towards helping schools to implement key parts of the DfE’s Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy. With funding from #iwill until January 2026, we have already begun working with a wide variety of schools and thousands of young people, and are looking forward to exploring new opportunities and working with new partners in 2024. Our fourth strand, the Future Forum, has also recently had its first sitting, with 19 amazing young people meeting to facilitate collaboration on youth priorities within the environmental movement.

In January 2024, SOS-UK also welcomed Hannah Fitzpatrick as the new Senior Project Manager overseeing the Green Schools Revolution, alongside over development and advocacy projects. A former teacher and senior leader, she is very excited about managing the different strands of GSR, and working closely with staff, students, and young people.  

Now that we’ve started working with lots of our schools, see below some key updates on what we got up to in the first part of the academic year!

Climate Action Plans

Since the start of the new academic year in September, the project has been going full steam ahead, currently working with 12 schools! We have been busy and have delivered 14 sessions to schools right across the country, engaging with 1,840 students so far. These initial visits allow us to introduce the project to the wider school community and start working with an interested group of students to explore the changes they’d like to see in their school. We have also been building a bank of resources and workshops which we are delivering in schools and that can be shared widely in the future so other schools can create their Climate Action Plans!  

Highlights of CAPs so far:

One of the great things about the CAPs project is that each school we work with is different, so we have the chance to adapt it to best support the school and young people. The CAPs project team, alongside SOS-UK core staff, includes 6passionate young people as student staff: Cory, Molly, Talia, Amber, Lucy and Gemma. Some of them share their experiences of working with their schools so far:  

  • Gemma and Cory leading in North England, visited XP Gateshead in Newcastle: "Cory and I have been working with XP Gateshead to adapt CAPs to their school, where the national curriculum is taught within expeditions or to help answer a key question. In November, we had an amazing, jam-packed day of in-person delivery where we ran workshops about green jobs and careers with groups of engaged Year 9s. The young people’s interest was so energising, with Cory’s idea of swapping typical hands up for the throwing of a soft frog proving very popular."

We are all very sad to say goodbye to Cory in January, but we wish him lots of luck with his 4th-year dissertation.

Here are some reflections from Cory about his role at SOS-UK:

CAPs has been such an incredible experience! The team is so supportive, kind, passionate, and fun to work with. I have really loved creating resources for the CAPs team and I have learned so many good communication and design skills. My absolute favourite part has been engaging with the young people in schools' part has been engaging with the young people in, schools and getting to meet the team in person. I loved speaking about a topic I was really passionate about and getting young people passionate about it too! I'm going to really miss working with the CAPs team and getting to be part of such an exciting project.

What’s coming up next for CAPs in 2024:

We are looking forward to continuing supporting schools in their CAPs journey over the Spring Term, with some school deliveries already booked in January and February! With many of our resources completed, we are going to be adding the finishing touches and keep adapting these based on feedback from school deliveries. We are also looking forward to working further with the Wilding Team, another Green School Revolution project, with many schools opting to run both CAPs and Wilding with their students.  

Sounds like something your school would be interested in? Do you know of a school that might like to get involved in the CAPs project?

We are looking for our next round of schools; here’s the link to register your interest. This is open to all, but we welcome applications based in Newcastle, Liverpool, Weston-super Mare, Plymouth, Southampton and Norwich.

Wilding Schools

To date, the Wilding Schools team have delivered 18 sessions to a total of 2,222 students so far! The team had a busy autumn term creating assemblies and workshop materials, and recruiting and onboarding many of our schools, with the remainder starting on the project this term. We begin the project at each ourschools with introductory assemblies (you can view a version on YouTube),followed by recruiting a smaller group of students to lead on the project, or meeting with an existing eco-club to form our Wilding Council. Students and staff then complete habitat mapping of their grounds and are ready to start the Wilding Planstage of the project, which typically involves a workshop with the support of a local ecology partner.  

We are currently on track to be working with 16 schools in total for the next 2 years of the project, which include 12 secondaries and 4 primaries across the UK, all from a mix of faith and SEN specialisms, and urban and rural settings!

Highlights of Wilding Schools so far:

Our WildingSchools Assistants, Mariana and Katie, and our Wilding Schools Coordinator,Nico, share their experiences working with the schools so far:

  • Mariana - "I have been working with five schools in the southwest region for the last couple of months, all working towards wilding their school grounds. Each school is unique in its own sense, whether it be a small primary school on the outskirts of the Welsh city of Cardiff or a much larger academy with around 1300 secondary and sixth form students in the Plymouth area. Highlights include delivering our first WildingPlan session alongside the South and West of Wales Wildlife Trust and having a mixture of online and in-person sessions with the other schools in Wales,Weston Super-Mare and Plymouth. Despite the distinctions in size, location,prior knowledge of students, and school grounds, a common thread unites them all – an ambition to transform their school environments into thriving places for biodiversity. The Wilding Councils of these schools are eager to exchange experiences and insights, discover more about local wildlife, explore the bestwilding approaches for their unique grounds, and strategize ways to involve the broader school community, including friends and family, in bringing their visions to life. I’m really looking forward to seeing their ideas come to life as they make their schools more nature-friendly!"
  • Katie - "I currently work with five schools in our key regions and are on track to recruit one more, these schools' range in age from primary to college and I work with a range of school types from independent to SEN. My highlights so far include an initial assembly with Clapham and Patchings CofE primary, which is our smallest primary school on the project with just 56 pupils! All the students who attended this assembly were very enthusiastic about the project and we can’t wait for their onboarding. More recently, I completed an onboarding for a small group of college students at East Norfolk Sixth Form College, these students have backgrounds in environmental science and so it meant that we could all discuss complex ideas surrounding biodiversity loss and the need for a project such as Wilding Schools."
  • Nico - "So far, I’ve visited two schools involved in the Wilding Schools project and presented a virtual assembly to a third. What strikes me most is how keen the students are to getinvolved, even from day one! Some are nervous which is only natural, but you can see how interested they are in helping the natural environment around them and gaining some responsibility for their own and other students’ experiences of the school. Hearing from young people is always insightful, but getting to hear, at such an early stage in the project, about how these students would like to wild their school grounds is so fascinating and extremely encouraging for the future of Wilding Schools. From wildflower meadows to bat boxes and ponds, I can’t wait to see how the students I’ve met so far will change their schools for the better!"
What’s coming up next for Wilding Schools in 2024:

In 2024, we’ll continue working with all our schools on the next steps of their journey. Many of our schools will soon be at the stage of writing their own Wilding Plan, with support from a local Wildlife Trust or other local ecology expert to ensure the actions are as locally relevant as possible. We will also be looking into supporting our schools to complete baseline surveys for their chosen species groups, before then procuring items and equipment for them to begin wilding their grounds.

We are really looking forward to seeing each school’s Wilding Plan and watching their grounds begin to be wilded!

Teach The Teacher

Over the past year, the Teach the Teacher team have been hard at work engaging and empowering young people in secondary schools across the UK!  Working with schools around the UK we’ve been supporting young people to deliver climate workshops with their teachers, providing students with an opportunity to gain develop green skills and the confidence to be agents of change, and providing teachers with encouragement and resources to integrate climate into their teaching across all subjects.  

It’s been so amazing to have worked with really passionate young people and their teachers to facilitate these important discussions about how young people feel about climate change and what their teachers can do to support them. Students from Lesmahagow High School (Scotland) and Beaumont School (St Albans) kindly wrote about their experiences taking part in Teach the Teacher, and we’d recommend giving them a read if you’re interested to find out more!

This year we’ve not only engaged students in secondary schools, but we’ve also ran Teach the Teacher sessions for PGCE students in University College London, teachers at the Association of Citizenship Teachers conference, and outdoor educators at Castleshaw Centre (Oldham).

What’s coming up next for Teach the Teacher in 2024:

Looking forward to the rest of 2024 we’re excited to be launching monthly Teach the Teacher webinars, to deliver Teach the Teacher sessions to teachers who either don’t have a session running at their school or weren’t able to attend their session. We’re also running webinars with UK Schools Sustainability Network (UKSSN) and Let’s Go Zero for young people on youth empowerment and influencing others. We’ll be attending several events across the UK such as the Sustainability in Education Conference (Luton) and Schools Climate Education South Yorkshire Conference (Sheffield) to deliver Teach the Teacher sessions to teachers and engage young people to bring Teach the Teacher to their schools.

We look forward to meeting and supporting more inspiring young people, and working together with passionate teachers to help create real change in the classroom for climate.

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