DfE offers £3.9m for contractor to help on education climate action plans

Provider will recruit 'expert' volunteers to offer schools and colleges advice on meeting government's new climate change strategy requirements

Provider will recruit 'expert' volunteers to offer schools and colleges advice on meeting government's new climate change strategy requirements

12 Apr 2023, 10:56

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An external provider will be paid £3.9 million to help education settings implement the government’s climate change strategy – including recruiting and managing a team of expert volunteers to provide advice.

An early tender for the ‘sector engagement and support’ contract shows the successful bidder will “identify appropriate experts” to help schools, colleges and other education providers develop their own climate action plans.

The government said that by 2025 every education setting would need to nominate a “sustainability lead” to oversee the plans, in its strategy published last year.

The plans are expected to cover decarbonisation and energy efficiency, “adaptation and resilience”, biodiversity and green infrastructure, as well as climate education and green skills and careers.

The provider, or joint providers, are expected to draw voluntary experts from education, academia and industry and will be contracted for two years from July.

They will also be responsible for developing a “co-ordinated approach” to providing advice to sustainability leads in education settings, as well as assisting in the development of individual climate action plans.

Under the contract, which businesses have been invited to register interest in bidding for, virtual or physical regional ‘sustainability hubs’ would also be set up to allow education settings to “engage in peer-to-peer learning”.

A mentor-match service would also be established, which would allow experts to be assigned to support sustainability leads over a set period.

The provider will also need to develop an engagement strategy to reach all education settings, from early years up to further education, who are “not yet engaged with climate action planning”.

They will also work with the Natural History Museum to encourage sector participation with the Department for Education’s National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Award initiatives from autumn.

Online self-assessment tool to be set up

A separate early tender for a £840,000 contract – also running from July 2023 to 2025 – shows the department is also looking to hire a provider to design an online ‘sustainability leadership in education’ support hub.

The hub, according to the DfE, would offer education settings guidance, information and “capability” to embed climate change and sustainability.

This includes through an online self-assessment tool that would allow sustainability leads to assess their setting’s capacity to “deliver a wholistic approach to sustainability”.

Once the self-assessment is completed, the support hub is expected to point out resources that would enable education settings to develop climate action plans.

The winning bidder will be asked to assemble directories of “high-quality” environmental sustainability training courses for sustainability leads and organisations who can provide assistance in developing climate action plans.

They will also need to develop a communications and engagement campaign to ensure education settings are aware of the resources.

As part of the government’s efforts to decarbonise the sector, exams regulator Ofqual has also been researching the impact of the exams system on the environment.

A government document shows Pa Consulting Services Limited received £108,000 to undertake the work, which took place between February 6 and March 31.

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One comment

  1. The language that Gov and civil servants use is so unclear.

    The term recruiting expert ‘volunteers’ for instance, makes it sound as though the meaningful part of this (the knowledge transfer) is based around free advice and goodwill.

    If that is that case, then the ‘experts’ recruited are likely to be fairly low on the list… (experts in any field deserve to be paid reasonably).

    If it isn’t the case, then using the word volunteer is unlikely to attract the best experts.

    This has all the hallmarks of being a massive greenwashing exercise. What the project needs is a specific function that is tasked questioning the project itself and trying to undo action plans to see if they are robust, can demonstrate efficacy and stand up to scrutiny.

    The very worst thing a project like this can do is make people believe they are acting and behaving in line environmental protection and climate goals, when they are not.