Scotland's United Nations Recognised Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development

Meet our Members: Solutions for the Planet tell us about their Big Ideas competition

Solutions for the Planet are a social enterprise working in Glasgow and Falkirk (as well as nationally). They are a  small team of 4, working across different areas in the UK and their vision is for “a generation of young people ready and able to respond to 21st Century sustainability challenges.” Learning for Sustainability Scotland was the first membership organisation they joined and are looking forward to working with the network – and our members – in the near future. In this “Meet Our Members” blog, they introduce the work that they do and invite you to get in touch if you would like to bring the Big Ideas competition to your school next year. They are also looking for judges to sit on the panel, so please get involved if you can contribute your expertise.

 Solutions for the Planet achieve our vision by engaging young people with the STEM (science, tech, engineering, and maths) skills they will need to succeed in future employment, education, and training, and to make the world a better place. This happens through our Big Ideas Competition where young people work in teams to come up with a solution (Big Idea) to solve a sustainability problem of their choice. This idea can then be honed into a business plan for entry into our competition.  We work with students in S1-S3 (11-14 years old) and deliver our initial Big Ideas Day in schools with the support of teachers.

In Scotland, we are partnered by SGN and Tarmac, who support our programme both financially and by providing staff to be trained as mentors.  Mentoring develops communication skills for staff and students, gives local businesses the chance to engage with their communities and meet their future workforce.  And, most importantly, mentoring gives our young people much-valued experience of engaging with employers in an informal manner.

Our Big Ideas Competition is now running in three schools across the Glasgow and Falkirk areas.  Teams are now well on the way to developing their Big Ideas into business plans with the support of their mentors.  Not to give too much away but we have a range of ideas in development including barn filters to reduce methane emissions from dairy farms, robots to remove plastic waste from the ocean and specialist apps to tackle social sustainability issues such as gender equality and mental health.

By the end of March, we will have collected these ideas and will then shortlist a number of teams to present at our Scottish Final held at Holyrood House in May.  The winner of this event will take their idea to the National Final at the Palace of Westminster where they compete against finalists from Yorkshire, the West Midlands, the North East, and the South East.

We are currently looking for a panel to judge our Scottish finalists and would welcome anyone with a background in sustainability, environmental science, or engineering to get in touch.

The expansion into Scotland has been an exciting time for Solutions for the Planet and due to interest from schools we hope to run a larger-scale programme across Edinburgh and Glasgow next year.  Scotland’s pro-activity in terms of engaging the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has made this expansion particularly successful as students and teachers are genuinely engaged and excited about the ways in which they can meet the SDGs through our programme.

Any teachers or schools interested in the programme for next academic year can contact me directly to find out how to get involved.


About Jess: Jess is the Programme Coordinator for Solutions for the Planet in Scotland. Before that, she was a research zoologist working on animal scent communication in Uganda. Sustainable development principles underlie all aspects of her life from eating a locally-sourced veggie diet to recycling old clothes as part of her crafting hobbies.  She is pleased to be associated with Learning for Sustainability Scotland and looks forward to working with us and meeting our members soon.

Drop Jess an email here.

If you would like to introduce your work to our members in our ‘Meet the Members’ blog post, please download the blog guidance documents and email your suggestions for a blog post to Abi Cornwall.

Event update: Measuring Sustainability in the Curriculum, 10 January 2018

This event – jointly hosted by EAUC & Learning for Sustainability Scotland on 10th January 2018 was very well attended by members of both organisations. The workshop set the context for sustainability in the curriculum, highlighted what is being done so far in Universities and Colleges, asked what we can learn from other approaches and looked into the possibility of developing whole sector strategies and tools.

All resources, including video presentations, are available to download from the EAUC website.

You can view the Minutes from the session here (all websites and tools are accessible via the summary of resources within the minutes).

Our member: Solutions for the Planet, blogs about the LfS Scotland AGM

It’s always great to know that our members enjoy our events and workshops, and it’s even better to learn that they enjoyed the event or workshop so much they felt compelled to write about it.

But that’s just what Jess Mitchell from Solutions for the Planet did over on their own website. You can read all about her experiences at our AGM here.

We are always looking for contributions to our blog. If you’d like to write something specifically for our members (we have over 1,390) then please download our blog guidance documents and send in your ideas to Abi Cornwall.

If you have already written a blog article elsewhere and you feel like our members would enjoy reading it, then get in touch – we are all about celebrating the good work that our members do.

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP (Minister for Further & Higher Education and Sciences) launches the Vision 2030+ Report

The full transcript from Minister for Further and Higher Education and Sciences Shirley-Anne Somerville (MSP)’s speech, formally launching the Vision 2030+ Report is now available to download. Before introducing Irmeli Halinen, Formerly Head of Curriculum Development at the National Agency of Education (FNAE), Finland at her lecture in September 2017 at the University of Edinburgh, Shirley-Anne Somerville talked of the vital role learning for sustainability has in Scottish education and praised the work and commitment of Pete Higgins (University of Edinburgh and Director of Learning for Sustainability Scotland) and his colleagues to drive forward LfS in education.

The Minister, speaking on behalf of the Scottish Government,  re-stated commitment to the Vision 2030+ Concluding report of the Learning for Sustainability National Implementation Group and the importance of  Learning for Sustainability in Scottish education. 

Speaking at the lecture in September 2017, the Minister said:

‘It is now essential that we maintain the momentum and ensure that Learning for Sustainability is fully embedded across our approach to curriculum and our three over-arching strategic priorities for education: the National Improvement Framework, Scottish Attainment Challenge and Developing the Young Workforce. Learning for Sustainability has a crucial role in supporting and enhancing these priorities. In addition, I want the new Regional Improvement Collaboratives to consider the role of LfS as part of their focus on curriculum improvement’. 

You can download the Minister’s full transcript here. 

If you’d like to watch Irmeli Halinen’s lecture, entitled: How Finland reformed its education curriculum: Quality education & a sustainable futureYou can do so by clicking on this link.

Research Into Action Briefings series

For those of you who have not yet had a chance to catch up with the Research into Action Briefings series (written by Pete Higgins & Beth Christie (Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh) and Betsy King (Learning for Sustainability Scotland), the series was written to support engagement with published educational research in relation to Learning for Sustainability across the schools education community. They are a critical reading for those interested in LfS in schools.

You can download all of the briefings by visiting our website here.






All the news from our January AGM & Networking Day (with links to reports)

The Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 18  January 2018 at the University of Edinburgh, Moray House School of Education.

This year’s theme was  Learning for the Future – Whose Voice Counts? The workshops contributed to the UK Stakeholders Action Plan for the SDGs and focused on how to engage young people in Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 (#YOYP2018).  Journalist Joyce McMillan gave an inspiring talk on hope, collective action and the human condition.  She spoke of how telling positive narratives can be an antidote to false news, materialism and crisis stories. Over sixty members came to join in the discussion and to get involved in the insightful workshops.


LfS and the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Contributing to the Education component of the UKSSD Stakeholder led Action Plan facilitated by May East, (UNITAR Fellow) and Betsy King, (LfS Scotland). Workshop 2: Engaging Young People in Sustainability: Rebecca Petford (EAUC Scotland) and Marie Duguid (Young Scot).

We took the opportunity to officially thank the hardworking members of the Steering Group who served till January 2018 and in particular, to those who stepped down this year for professional and personal reasons – Rosa Murray, Kerr McConnell, Susan Carleton and Lorna Matthews. Their expertise and commitment to LfS Scotland was much appreciated and we wished them well in their other work and personal pursuits.

We also had great pleasure in announcing the new Steering Group for the term January 2018- 2020:

Ullrich Kockel, Heriot-Watt University

Laura Curtis-Moss, RSPB Scotland

Kate Campbell, Sustrans Scotland

Kirsten Leask, Soil Association Scotland

Rebecca Petford, EAUC Scotland 

Andy Samuel, Abertay University

Rehema White, University of St Andrews

Ron McKay, Edinburgh College

You can read all about the nominees here.

At our AGM we like to ensure attendees have the chance to hear and get involved in interesting – and practical – discussions. As you can see, this year was no exception. As well as listening to talks and being involved in workshops, participants were able to provide feedback and suggestions on LfS Scotland priorities for 2018 and there was much discussion around developing a new task group on Early Years and a request for an emphasis on informal networking opportunities. In fact, there was a resounding cheer when someone suggested a ceilidh, so watch this space!

A full breakdown of priorities for our members is available in the links below.

If you weren’t able to come along on the day – or if you’d like a refresher, please click on the links below for more details. And, if you’d like to find out more about the work of LfS Scotland, by participating in one of the collaborative working groups (task groups) or by suggesting something you’d like to get involved in then get in touch with Abi Cornwall, Development Officer.

Reports, Presentations & Notes. 

Click on the links below to download any of the notes and reports you’d like from the day. If you’d like to use any of them for your own work, please contact us.

AGM programme

LfS Scotland Official Report Dec 2016 – Dec 2017

AGM Jan 2018 Learning for a better Future presentation

LfS Scotland Member priorities for 2018

Engaging Young People in Sustainability workshop

Notes from Engaging Young People Workshop 18th Jan 2018