Plan it Cool

Enabling schools to fight climate change with a national education programme

Project duration: April 2003 to April 2004

This was an innovative national education programme to enable whole school communities to fight climate change and implement sustainable energy policies.

The aims and objectives of the project were to:

  • To create and pilot an innovative new national education programme that will enable whole school communities to fight climate change and implement sustainable energy policies
  • To create a process and partnerships that will enable people to participate in practical sustainable energy activities at home, school and in the wider community
  • To build a community approach to fighting climate change using schools and local environment centres as focal points within the community

Plan it Cool evolved from Global Action Plan's Action on Schools programme and CSE's Energy Matters initiative. The project provides an innovative package of solutions to remove barriers by:

  • working with 'community clusters' of secondary colleges, feeder schools and environment  centres
  • providing sufficient resources and support to give volunteers the time to participate in the project. This will include providing supply costs and ongoing local support to the pilot communities
  • creating a range of new interactive community resources promoting renewable energy and the development of new web-based materials
  • encouraging whole school action by training and supporting volunteer Action Teams of students, teachers, non-teaching staff (caretakers, bursars, environment/eco centre staff, etc.) and parents

The programme is made up of three options. School involvement and support offered increases at higher levels, i.e. option 1 would demand less time and involvement compared with option 3. Each option of the programme includes all of the following:

  • Two school energy audits
  • Involvement of an Action Team
  • Production of an action plan
  • Inclusion of home energy activities
  • Promotion of renewable energy, including installation of solar panels at a lead school (see photos) 

Development, delivery and evaluation of the pilot runs over three years from 2002.

CSE oversaw the delivery of Plan it Cool in North Somerset and London school clusters between 2003 and 2004. The structure of the Plan it Cool programme and resources provided a starting point and method for schools to look at energy issues.

The actual delivery of the programme in schools varied depending on individual circumstances. Internal factors aiding the delivery of Plan it Cool included:

  • good communication between staff
  • support of school management team
  • enthusiasm to use new activities to deliver the curriculum
  • low staff turn-over

External factors impeding the delivery of Plan it Cool included:

  • national tests and examinations
  • OFSTED inspections
  • school re-organisation

Support was offered to schools and given as and when requested. Lead teachers agreed the amount of support provided by the facilitators was appropriate. In practice, some schools received less support time than forecast, while some required more support time than forecast.

Lead teachers used supply cover to free their time to plan and deliver Plan it Cool activities. Some primary school teachers felt the detail required in the school energy audits was difficult and impractical to collect. Younger pupils enjoyed ‘outing’ classes who’d left lights switched on or windows open when the heating was switched on. Older students in secondary school were able to create detailed spreadsheets to cost electricity consumption from lighting.

During the pilot, links were made with PHSE and Citizenship, Geography, Maths, Science, Information Technology, Art and Literacy. Pupils from two primary schools in North Somerset spent a morning at the participating secondary school investigating renewable energy. This event was popular amongst pupils and teachers, but would be unlikely to happen without practical and financial support to organise it and to provide transport for the pupils. 

Lead teachers report greater awareness of energy issues in their schools and with parents as a result of participating in Plan it Cool. It was felt that in order to involve the wider community in such programmes, more support/training for schools is required. CSE and Global Action Plan are in discussion to plan the way forward with Plan it Cool.

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