AOC sustainability conference

South West Colleges lead the way on green issues

South West Colleges shared their vision for a sustainable approach in Further Education at a special conference held at Somerset College's Genesis Centre on 20 May.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) South West gathered college representatives from across the West Country to look at ways of working together to combat climate change and meet student needs in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.

The AoC South West Sustainability Conference highlighted the valuable work already undertaken by colleges in the region to encourage sustainability within their organisations as well as unveiling future plans.

The Conference included an exciting mix of college case studies, a demonstration of recycled clothing by Diploma fashion students from Weston College, an overview of the community campus brand at Wiltshire College and an insight into the positive impact made by giving all Truro students a Freedom of Cornwall pass worth £100 per term.

Rod Brookes, AoC South West Project Manager and event organiser, commented: ‘Colleges in the West Country already carry out a great deal of impressive work to improve their sustainability. The conference has shown how there's no right or wrong way to move towards sustainability; all Colleges have different starting points. All that's needed is dedication, hard work and a commitment to providing the best Further Education in a sustainable context for young people in the South West.'

Di Dale, Principal of Wiltshire College and Chair of South West Further Education Colleges Sustainability Thematic Group, spoke inspiringly about progress already made and the importance of continuing to update and train College staff to deliver what the next generation will need in a low carbon future.

The keynote speech, delivered by Esin Esat from Bedford College, offered valuable best practice advice based on her role as Director of Sustainability. Helen Freeman, lead sustainability champion at Somerset College, gave practical guidance on leadership for sustainability.

The day focused on four key sustainability themes; teaching and learning, buildings and estates, business and community and leadership and management.

AoC President David Collins visited the Conference and congratulated the South West delegates on leading the way in sustainability within Further Education.