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Announcing the winners of the West Midlands College sustainability competition

Michelle Hemmingfield
July 10, 2024

Back in March, students and staff from across the Colleges West Midlands (CWM) group gathered for a ‘Student Leadership for Sustainability’ training day at Fircroft College. The training explored the critical importance of environmental sustainability and its intersection with other social justice issues. Students were then tasked with developing plans for projects or campaigns to raise awareness of environmental concerns and promote actions students can take to make a positive impact.

Over the summer term, these dedicated students, with the support of their college staff, worked diligently to bring their plans to life. We are proud to recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of these colleges and their exceptional contributions to sustainability.

First Place: North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC)

Congratulations to NWSLC for winning first place and the £300 prize for their project, ‘Respect the Environment.’ Together, students and staff organized a Green Week, engaging over 3,000 young people aged 16+. The initiative saw Personal Development Coaches incorporate sustainability into their sessions, following which all students were invited to pledge to adopt more sustainable practices both at college and at home. Impressively, over 2,000 pledges were made throughout the week.

The week featured numerous activities to engage students in "green activities," such as:

  • Planting seeds to learn about developing ecosystems for bees and other wildlife.
  • Growing sunflowers and other flowers in the college patio areas.
  • Designing eco-friendly systems for everyday use, including cars and households, using Lego to think about power and design features.
  • Upcycling clothes and selling unwanted items instead of sending them to landfill.
  • Researching food miles and exploring ways to reduce them in everyday food choices.

Inspired by these planting activities, foundation learning students collaborated with the estates team to create a vegetable garden. Phase one of this project has started with the installation of raised beds, which will be maintained by foundation learners, the gardening club, and the 0-5's in the college nursery.

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Students from NWSCL filling their raised beds

Highly Commended: Dudley College and Telford College

Congratulations to Dudley College and Telford College for receiving highly commended recognition and a £100 prize each for their impressive projects.

Dudley College: During the March training day, Dudley College Aspire students partnered with the College's Afro Club to create a joint project on sustainable food. Aspire students successfully propagated root, leaf, and salad vegetables from seed and transplanted them into raised beds. They set up a sustainable water supply by capturing and storing rainwater through existing but disused rainwater gutter diverters. The Afro Club researched sustainability in the context of their culinary ideas and cooked a traditional soup using UK-grown ingredients, which they served to fellow students and staff.

Telford College: Telford College held a Sustainability Week to raise awareness about environmental issues and highlight the college’s actions to improve sustainability. Activities included an "Eco-Friendly Anagrams" quiz, a lunchtime drop-in with Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Climate Action Hub Telford, a giveaway of free seeds, plants, and bug hotels for students, and a ‘Wipe Out Waste’ workshop. In this workshop, students collaborated with their on-site caterer to showcase how food waste can be used creatively in cooking.

Thanks to the hosts of our training day, Fircroft College and to Steve Frampton MBE for sponsoring the competition and for inspiring students during the training day with his extensive experience of sustainability in further education.  

To find out more about how colleges in the area are preparing to play a key role in delivering a sustainable future for the region, check out the West Midlands and Warwickshire Green Skills Roadmap