Sustainability strategy must link up with college-level action on green skills

Harrogate College has hailed new proposals to put education at the heart of the UK’s sustainability drive.

The government’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy includes plans to introduce a new Natural History GCSE, develop a Primary Science Model Curriculum and promote carbon literacy training.

The Department for Education (DfE) believes those proposals will play a crucial role in the wider push to reduce the country’s environmental footprint.

Harrogate College, which is already working with local employers to provide a range of green skills training – including for the electric vehicle and retrofitting industries – has welcomed the move.

But it is urging the DfE to ensure that sufficient support for vocational training at post-16 level is included in its plans.

Funding vital for sustainability sector vocational courses

Our Principal, Danny Wild, said: “It is great to see the Department for Education taking positive action on sustainability, and there is much to be applauded in this new policy.

“Encouraging more young people to seek jobs in the green sector and learn the necessary, emerging skills that are needed, is vital as we work to produce a workforce fit for the challenges ahead.

“As a further education provider committed to sustainability and supporting the local economy, our college is continually tailoring its offering to do just that.

“We have already run successful retrofit courses and, from September, our curriculum will expand to include more sustainable construction training and courses on electric vehicle charging units.

“However, we need proper support and funding from the government to be able to keep providing and expanding such training as the demand for green skills continues to grow.”

Leading the way on carbon literacy training

Part of the new strategy involves an acceleration of the government’s plans to roll out carbon literacy training at all levels of education.

Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, has also pledged greater support for teaching climate change awareness at all levels by 2023 – and new requirements will be introduced for further education teachers to build sustainability into their lessons.

Harrogate College is already ahead of the game in that regard, having completed its first carbon literacy training sessions for students and staff earlier this year.

Ensuring that carbon literacy training is provided is part of the college’s Sustainability Pledge, which outlines its ambitions to become a net zero carbon college by 2030.

The commitment was announced when the college hosted the launch of the first Harrogate District Climate Action Festival in October, 2021.

Sustainability is on the menu

Students from Harrogate College are using their culinary and creative skills to come up with a new, sustainable menu for RHS Garden Harlow Carr.

Hospitality students have been asked to devise a hypothetical fresh bill of fare and concept for a new café that is being created by converting the former Harrogate Arms pub.

Harlow Carr, which owns the Grade II Listed property, grows plenty of fresh produce which will feature prominently in the new establishment’s dishes. 

The Harrogate College group, who are being led by seven Level 2 Professional Cookery students, recently visited the site to be briefed on their task. They also enjoyed a tour of the grounds, plus a chance to try their hand at potting.

An exciting collaboration that reflects our values

The initiative represents the start of a closer partnership between the college and Harlow Carr, who worked collaboratively to find the right project.

Harrogate College’s Cultural, Contemporary and Heritage Studies Programme Manager, Jason Parry, said: “This is an exciting project that has a focus on sustainability and working with the produce grown on the site.

“It ticks so many boxes for us in terms of the college’s values and aspirations – sustainability, ‘food to fork’, carbon reduction and seasonality – along with menu and service design, work experience and responding to a client brief.”

Fresh produce at RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Pitching for success

He added: “The project will be followed up throughout the year with Harlow Carr, who will do a progress check with the students in January.

“Ultimately it will end up with the students giving a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch to Harlow Carr staff, with small groups presenting their ideas around the menu, and the service, and showing how they have worked to meet the client’s brief.”

Harrogate College, as part of its wider drive to become a centre of green excellence, recently launched a Sustainability Pledge which sets out its commitment to becoming net zero carbon by 2030.

For more details on hospitality courses at the college click here