Renewables in the Rural Landscape: workshops for schools

Engaging sixth formers with renewable energy issues

Project duration: September 2012 to February 2014

CSE has developed a new suite of educational resources for schools, helping sixth formers to understand and engage with the debates around renewable energy.

Funded by the Ernest Cook Trust, we developed a set of four lesson plans/workshops based on some of the content of our PlanLoCaL ( resources. They tie in most strongly with the Geography A Level syllabus, with links to parts of the curriculum stated. These resources equip teachers to introduce renewable energy and get sixth formers thinking about the issues behind energy developments.

The four lesson plans cover:

  1. An introduction to renewable energy
  2. Assessing the impacts and benefits of renewable energy
  3. The impacts of large structures on the landscape
  4. A renewable energy scenario, where students are grouped into the ‘pros’, the ‘antis’ and ‘the planners’ – this gives them an idea about how the planning system deals with renewable energy developments, and encourages them to think through and debate the different issues.

CSE’s Morgan Kuivala piloted these workshops in four schools in our local area, with very positive feedback. She took along our PlanLoCaL scale model, which shows the impact of different renewable energy developments on a typical landscape. (It’s not essential to the workshops, but you can hire it – details here.)

Here are some of the comments from teachers:

“Many thanks for organising and running the presentation today, it was absolutely brilliant! What a fantastic model! It was just what was needed to get the students enthused and up and running (on a design project to produce a working model of a renewable energy technology) and very much appreciated. The feedback we have had so far (from pupils) is really positive with all sorts of excellent and imaginative ideas coming forward.” - Minehead Middle School.

“I loved the model and Morgan's presentation of the ideas... Many thanks for coming in - we will be able to capitalise on your input when we start our work on sustainable energy” - Backwell School

“If you ever have any other sessions you wish to try out... you are always welcome at Wadham!” - Wadham School 

Morgan says: “Younger people (aged 16-25) are less than half as likely as older people (aged 50-74) to take part in civic consultations about things like renewable energy developments. This means they currently have much less input into the outcome of decisions, like whether they would like a wind farm near their community or not – but they are the ones who will live with the decisions the longest. It’s particularly important to encourage every age group to engage in these local planning issues now that the Localism Act affords more decision-making power to communities.

“Helping young people to understand the issues and the way that these decisions are made is a valuable thing to be able to do as part of their education. It’s been great to see the students I’ve worked with being so keen to learn about renewable energy, and getting so stuck into the planning debate. Lots of interesting ideas and thoughts came up during the lessons.”

If you’re a teacher who would like to know more, please contact Morgan Kuivala on 0117 934 1454.

Image: Windwärts Energie GmbH / Photographer: Mark Mühlhaus/attenzione

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