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AIM Qualification and Assessment Group

Seven simple steps to raise awareness of sustainability with learners

Climate change is already incorporated into the curricula for geography and science in England as both are compulsory subjects up to the age of 14. But in reality, it’s often left out of teaching. So what can post 16 educators do to raise awareness of environmental sustainability and climate change?

In this Blog, Jill Minter, Head of Marketing and Communications gives some ideas.

“However strongly I personally feel about climate change, I do think that we need to be sensitive about how it’s taught and recognise that for some, eco-anxiety amongst young people exists.” said Jill. "Instead of focusing on the doom and gloom we should frame teaching in a positive, active and participatory way by, for example, explaining the value of ecosystems, why clean energy is important etc. Even better than talking is positive action. Below I’ve listed seven ways colleges and training providers can introduce positive actions to their centres."

1. Banish disposable items from your centre

Plastic forks, knives, spoons, cups, water bottles and anything else that only has one use before being thrown away is the biggest source of waste. These kinds of items will often sit in landfills for hundreds of years before breaking down. Using reusable plates, cutlery and cups creates a much more sustainable lifestyle while also saving money. 

2. Install water stations

Keep plastic bottles out of landfill be encouraging students to use refillable bottles and install multiple water refill stations to make it easy for learners to rehydrate sustainably.

3. Offer environmental qualifications to learners

Colleges need to help students understand the importance of caring for the environment. AM’s Level 1 Award in Environmental Sustainability introduces learners to key issues in sustainability, raising awareness of the topic and encouraging them to consider their role in helping to make sustainable choices. The qualification may be used as an induction programme or as part of a wider vocational context eg study programmes, and traineeships etc.

Public bodies including schools, colleges and other learning providers are encouraged to demonstrate
the provision of sustainability within their curriculum offer as well as through their operational activities. Learning providers are accountable for this in the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework.

More information can be found in our blog Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy.

4. Grow a garden

Campus gardens are becoming more popular as they enable students to work together to learn about the ecosystem. Until the end of June AIM is giving away a packet of wild flower seeds when you download our sustainability leaflet. Get you're seeds here.

5. Plan a computer recycling drive

The UK, has a huge issue with electronic waste discarding 155,000 tonnes of electricals every year.  As a consumer of electrical devices such as computers and laptops, your centre could tackle this problem by thinking about how you can best recycle and reuse old equipment.

Charities like computers4charity make computer recycling really straightforward by giving your unwanted PC’s and laptops a new lease of life before donating them to charity causes across the UK. Use social media to spread the word about your event and include a list of accepted electronics.

6. Participate in national sustainability drives


  • Global Recycling Day
  • World Water Day
  • Earth Hour


  • Earth Day


  • World Bee Day


  • 30 Days Wild
  • World Bike Day
  • World Environment Day
  • World Oceans Day
  • The Great Big Green Week
  • World Refill Day
  • Clean Air Day


  • Plastic Free July
  • NetZero Week


  • Secondhand September
  • World Car Free Day
  • Recycle Week

7. Install recycle bins

The easiest and most common way that people participate in sustainability is by recycling. Installing bins across your site makes recycling as easy as possible. Students sometimes won’t go out of their way to find a recycling bin, but if there is one nearby, they’re more likely to recycle. A way to ensure there is always easy access to recycling is by putting a bin anywhere there’s also a general rubbish bin.

Remember to label bins clearly with accepted recyclable materials.

More information

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) support the FE sector’s adoption of education for sustainable development (ESD) by providing specialist support that helps equip and enable those who work in the Further Education and Training sector to delivery high quality, impactful ESD. More information can be found on their website.

Remember to fill in the online form and download our leaflet to receive your free pack of wild flower seeds to kick-start your campus garden and learn more about AIM's Environmental Sustainability Qualification.


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