Energy Matters

Designing an education programme for schools to reduce energy use within the home

Project duration: January 2000 to January 2003

Energy Matters is an education programme for schools, designed to reduce energy use within the home.

Addressing the needs of the teachers and local authorities, Energy Matters raises awareness of the importance of energy conservation in teachers, pupils and parents. Pupils, supported by their parents and guardians, carry out home energy surveys, then analyse the data to take home recommendations for energy efficiency improvements.

Energy Matters supports the needs of local authorities by offering an effective, economic and efficient way to:

  • raise awareness of energy conservation in the domestic sector
  • incorporate education into HECA and LA21 strategies
  • bridge departmental and organisational boundaries
  • raise awareness of the economic, social and environmental aspects of energy conservation
  • develop their existing links to schools

Energy Matters is written around the National Curriculum and supports the areas of numeracy, literacy and education for sustainable development. It does not place extra demands on teachers' time in terms of preparation or classroom management. Each teacher that gets involved in the programme is given a free resource pack, a free training workshop and ongoing support while they use the resource, from a locally-based Energy Educator.

After a two-year pilot in the South West, Energy Matters was launched nationally at the House of Commons in June 1999. Since then, regional launches have taken place in the West Midlands and South East with the support of the local government offices. CSE is working to launch it in other regions in the near future.

Local authorities interested in the programme receive a free strategy meeting from CSE and/or someone from CREATE, experts in energy education and our partner in the project. These meetings bring together potential partners such as LA21 and HECA officers, School Energy Managers, the education authority and other local organisations working with schools. They are designed to introduce the programme, develop partnerships between local authorities, and are delivered in such a way as to support local initiatives and avoid duplication.

When an authority joins the programme CSE works with them to find and train a local person to act as their Energy Educator. They should have a background in teaching and some knowledge of energy issues. Each Energy Educator attends a two-day training session, at the end of which they are assessed. The use of a trained Energy Educator Network ensures the programme is delivered to a high quality across the UK.

The Energy Educator then holds a planning meeting with the local authority to finalise the delivery of Energy Matters in their area. They recruit at least five pilot schools per local authority and run a workshop with these teachers to introduce the programme. Each teacher is given a photocopyable resource pack and ongoing support while they use it. When a school has run the programme, the teachers evaluate the programme and the Energy Educator produces a case study on the school, detailing how they use it, the number of pupils involved and the benefits they felt they gained. These case studies are used to help market the programme to further schools in future years.

When all of the pilots are complete, CSE or CREATE arranges a dissemination meeting. This meeting is convened to report back on the pilots, present the case studies and provide data on the number of homes involved and the energy savings these should lead to. The rest of the meeting is set aside to plan how the project can proceed in future years.

At this stage, CSE/CREATE normally pulls out of the programme, with Energy Matters becoming a locally-run and managed initiative, using its locally-trained Energy Educator.

Over 30 local authorities in the South West were involved in the Energy Matters pilots. The national programme ran in a further 66 local authorities across the UK and detailed evaluations were completed in 51 of these. Through the national programme, CSE has been able to:

  • train teachers from over 380 schools
  • involve over 14,500 pupils in learning about home energy conservation
  • enable some 9000 of these pupils to complete home energy surveys with their parents/carers.

Of the teachers that used the resource, 93% stated that they would recommend the Energy Matters programme to other teachers. A massive 86% also said they would continue to use Energy Matters as part of their ongoing teaching plans. This will ensure that Energy Matters continues to play an important role in helping to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions.

There have been two evaluations of the Energy Matters programme that have proved that it has had a significant impact on energy saving among both pupils and their parents. To find out more about the evaluation, click here.

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