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Sustainability award for Luminate Education Group

Members of Luminate Education Group have had their sustainability credentials recognised through a Green Gown Award.

The group was part of a successful entry that showcased the collective impact of action by West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges’ (WYCC) seven members.

The bid outlined the scores of varied initiatives that each of WYCC’s partners have been undertaking to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the 17 global targets adopted by the United Nations to tackle poverty and protect the planet.

The members’ work over the past year has spanned all of the SDG categories which include Climate Action, Affordable and Green Energy and Responsible Consumption and Production as well as Reduced Inequalities and Quality Education.

Environmental action across the group

Some key examples included:

  • Leeds City College, Keighley College and Harrogate College taking part in Planet Earth Games – with Keighley, which produced an indoor greenhouse and a suit of armour welded from waste metal, being crowned the national winner

  • Running an array of sustainability-focused courses, with 86 including specific net zero or sustainability content, across multiple fields including digital, business, motor vehicle and travel, food and drink

  • Harrogate College embedding sustainable practice across all of its provision, while consolidating its position as a green skills leader

  • Leeds Sixth Form College’s staff and students leading litter picking sessions and community clean-ups, using the gathered rubbish to create a sculpture at Park Lane campus

  • Engineering students visiting DRAX power station to learn about the sustainable biomass it now uses as its primary fuel and the company’s research into carbon capture technologies

Inspiring first steps towards net zero

Luminate Education Group’s Deputy CEO, Bill Jones, said: “Lessening the impact of the climate emergency is one of our top priorities and something we can only effectively do through collaboration with our partners.

“There is a huge amount of work to be undertaken to make all of the changes we need to become, as we have pledged, net zero carbon by 2035. So it has been inspiring to see the commitment, passion and professionalism of our staff and students – along with those of our partner colleges – as they’ve thrown themselves behind this.

“We’ve made a great start and winning this Green Gown Award is a testament to that and will motivate us as we forge ahead with more sustainability improvements.”

The power of collaboration – and estate-wide improvements

Luminate Education Group Consultant, Jennifer Miccoli, added: “We did a huge amount of sustainability work as part of the WYCC bid, which was led by Shipley College. The collaboration with other colleges, and sharing of resources, was great and enabled us all to pick up some fantastic ideas.

“Our efforts included everything from small student-led community projects right through to reviewing our group-wide processes, particularly regarding our buildings, so we can target what will make the biggest difference in terms of our carbon footprint.”

In terms of the group’s buildings, a new advanced management system has been set up across each site to record and drive efficiencies in the use of energy, water, and heating. A range of multi-million pound infrastructure / rebuild schemes are also in the pipeline, including at Harrogate College and Leeds City College’s Mabgate campus, where the work will be completed to meet the BREEAM (Excellent) sustainability standard.

The installation of solar panels at Leeds’ Printworks campus meanwhile, due to be completed by this summer, is expected to save some 370,000 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions. Leeds Conservatoire is also, thanks to a £1.6m award from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, on course to slash its carbon footprint by upgrading its heating and cooling systems, windows and lighting.

This dress is part of the sustainable fashion window display created by Leeds City College students for John Lewis, Leeds

Students make an impact with sustainable fashion at John Lewis

Students from Leeds City College have created a ‘stunning’ sustainable fashion display for one of the city’s highest profile stores.

The striking window exhibit at John Lewis features clothes, and art pieces, that have all been created by Fashion and Textiles students out of previous garments or recycled materials.

The students produced the clothes through their Make an Impact Project which, as the text on the window display explains, is all about pursuing upcycling and sustainability in fashion.

That scheme received a major boost after refugee support charity Yorkshire Aid got in touch to offer some donated clothing that it had been unable to use.

The college then jumped at the chance to team up with John Lewis – and the students are now ‘buzzing’ at the results.


Visual and Digital Arts teacher at the college’s Quarry Hill campus, Amelia Johnson, said: “The students’ brief was called Make an Impact, and they have done just that!

“They have been buzzing and are feeling very proud about seeing their work in the store’s windows on their walk into college.

“They are eager for more opportunities like this and it has clearly motivated them after what has been a very challenging time in their education.

“Some students also gained work experience through dressing the windows, and the John Lewis staff were very supportive while allowing them creative freedom.”

Leeds City College students outside their sustainable fashion window display at John Lewis
Leeds City College students outside their sustainable fashion display at John Lewis

Laura Prince, from the college’s Events team, said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the Make an Impact project in our city’s John Lewis store, giving our textile learners the chance to both design and dress the windows.

“We are thankful to the John Lewis staff for helping and mentoring the learners during the window dressing, and for supporting their work from the offset. It has helped our students feel proud of their designs and accomplishments.”

Partner & Events and Marketing Coordinator at John Lewis Leeds, Natasha Whalley, was full of praise for the students’ efforts.

She said: “The team was really grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with Leeds City College and exhibit its Make an Impact Project.

“It was a pleasure working with the students and we hope the experience they had installing their work gave them a real insight into working in a live retail environment.

“They worked in a professional manner and contributed to the creative aspect of the installation, which ultimately resulted in a well executed window.

“The sustainability message ties in with our brand vision and has gained great feedback from our customers and partners. We are excited for future opportunities to collaborate with Leeds City College.”

Yorkshire Aid collects items to send to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in need.  For more information visit https://yorkshireaid.org/

Carbon-neutral by 2035 – our pledge on sustainability

Luminate Education Group has vowed to become a net zero organisation by 2035.

Our newly agreed Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development Pledge spells out our commitment to hit the target by taking group-wide action to cut carbon emissions.

“Climate change and ecological destruction are some of the biggest challenges of our time.

“Schools, colleges and universities, like all institutions, have a responsibility to address them; and to meet the UK government’s target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Luminate Education Group seeks to do so much sooner.”

We will achieve net zero when the amount of greenhouse gases that we are producing is equal to or less than those we are removing from the atmosphere. 

Wide-ranging actions to hit our target

Some of the main steps we will be taking to achieve the goal by 2035 or earlier – the pledge also includes an aspirational date of 2030 – include:

  • Changing our estate and buildings to become more energy efficient, reduce waste and generate their own energy
  • Developing sustainable travel plans for each of our sites
  • Embedding sustainability and green activities into staff development, student life and across our curriculum
  • Encouraging biodiversity on our sites, ensuring areas are dedicated to wildlife and planting
  • Partnering with organisations that value sustainability and hold events to support climate action

Our members will continue to provide, and develop, the green skills instruction that our students and partners need to thrive in a zero carbon economy too. And carbon literacy training will be offered to all our students.

Regular updates on progress

To monitor progress, we are also committed to measuring our carbon footprint – benchmark data is currently being collated – and publishing the findings regularly.

Looking ahead, the pledge – formulated by our Climate Emergency Committee – adds: “We will commit to our pledge and develop a detailed roadmap to outline the actions, resources, time and behaviours that will be necessary to achieve our objectives.

“We can’t do this alone. We will work with stakeholders, businesses and our community through networks, events and advocacy.”

College stepping up to meet the electric vehicle challenge

More training to support the country’s transition to electric cars will be introduced at Harrogate College this September.

Harrogate, as recently widely reported in the media*, has been revealed to be one of the ‘worst prepared areas in the UK’ in terms of supporting the shift to electric vehicles.

Those findings were mainly based on the current scarcity of public charging points, with research showing that the district has just one for every 134 electric or hybrid cars.

Harrogate College, however, is working hard to address the issue by providing technical courses to support the electric vehicle (EV) sector – and has just bought some charging units to use in training this September.

Working with businesses to fill the green skills gap

Principal Danny Wild said: “As a college committed to sustainability, we are determined to support emerging green technologies, including those that will enable our transition to greener forms of transport.

Danny Wild, Principal of Harrogate College

“We have been developing our curriculum to provide electric vehicle infrastructure courses, while tailoring our motor vehicle courses to meet the changes in car ownership.

“In doing so we have also been working closely with local firms so we can provide the appropriately skilled, work-ready students they need.

“The electric vehicle sector is a rapidly growing one that represents a fantastic opportunity for both our students and local businesses, and our ever-evolving range of courses will keep adapting to serve that.”

Harrogate district’s electric vehicle future is bright

APS, which runs a national electric vehicle charger repair and maintenance service from its Harrogate HQ, has partnered with the college to set up a training and recruitment programme to meet the growing demand for EV service engineers.

Business Development Manager John Dyson said that was one of many reasons for optimism: “It is ironic that Harrogate has been criticised so strongly for a lack of action over installing EV chargers, when there actually is so much going on behind the scenes.

“Recent announcements by Transdev, that all Harrogate buses are to be electrified, and Harrogate Borough Council, which is to install 34 charge points in local car parks, gives a taste of just what is on its way!”

The college will introduce a new course, the Level 3 Award in the Installation and Commissioning of Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment, this September.

*For example, in this Harrogate Advertiser report.

Keighley College

Keighley College receives funding for green skills investment

Keighley College is one of six further education providers across the region that will receive £140,000 to invest in specialist equipment to deliver electric vehicle and retrofit training, grow and embed green knowledge within the curriculum and improve links with businesses to develop and enhance their green skills.

As part of the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC), the college will be involved in government plans to boost the nation’s skills and make sure more people can secure good, well-paid jobs that are closer to where they live.

A great opportunity to ‘level up’ for sustainability

Kevin O’Hare, Principal at Keighley College, said: “We are delighted to be working with partners across the region to help our young people develop green skills and learn about sustainability.

“Our Industrial Centre of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering provides students with the opportunity to gain real world industry experience and this project will allow us to explore more green opportunities available in these areas.

“It is our aim to ensure that we successfully embed sustainable development goals into our curriculum and prepare our learners for futures in a greener world.”

The Department for Education has announced that it will invest £2.6m in West Yorkshire’s colleges through the Strategic Development Fund. 

The fund was launched in 2021 to help colleges and further education providers to transform their facilities and offer high quality technical training that better meet the needs of local employers and boost job opportunities for their communities.

This would mean that local businesses have access to the home-grown talent they need for the jobs of tomorrow and more people don’t need to leave their hometowns to get a good job.

Preparing a workforce for the future

Project Director of the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, Joanne Patrickson said: “This funding will make a big difference to our colleges and in turn, the businesses and communities in West Yorkshire. 

“Part of the funding will be a capital investment into equipment and machinery to allow our colleges to train the workforce in electric vehicle maintenance and retrofitting buildings.

“Colleges will be employing dedicated teams to work closely with businesses in the region to understand what help they need to become more sustainable, and the WYCC The Green Skills Service to help employers access the training and resources they need to take action.”

The £2.6m is contracted to be spent by 31 March 2023, but this initial investment will allow these new initiatives to establish and offer training that will prepare the workforce for a sustainable future.

A month of green action at Harrogate College

Students at Harrogate College are set to turn March ‘green’ as they lead a month of environmentally -focused local events.

The college has set up all kinds of activities, ranging from wildflower planting and an art exhibition to a climate café and educational webinars, for its first ever Green Month.

Keen to push ahead with its commitment to environmental action (as outlined in its Sustainability Pledge), the college is also urging the local community to get involved.

The green activities will kick off with a presentation on sustainable technology, plus a litter pick, on Tuesday 8 March.

Harrogate College’s Partnerships and Development Manager, Holly Hansen-Maughan, said: “We were delighted to host the launch event for Harrogate’s first Climate Action Festival last year.

“The festival proved to be a real catalyst for environmental action both for ourselves and the wider community, and our Green Month is the latest example of that.

“We have worked hard to put together a schedule that includes something for everyone and a number of events that are open to residents as well as our students and staff.

“We hope to see lot of people taking part, both to make a difference and to find out more about how we can all work together to secure a more sustainable future.”

As part of its collaborative and employer-focused approach, the college has teamed up with several local businesses and organisations for Green Month.

They include Techbuyer and Ortial, who will be holding a discussion on Sustainable Technology and How It Affects You.

Social impact company Too Good To Go, meanwhile, will explain how they connect businesses with people in need so they can put their surplus food to good use, instead of going to waste.

The Harrogate District’s schools, colleges and sixth forms will also be involved as pupils and students are being invited to design a poster, or piece of art, that will inspire positive environmental action.

For dates, times and more details on all of Harrogate College’s Green Month activities visit harrogate-college.ac.uk/partners/green-agenda/.

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