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Thousands of pupils across the UK are being encouraged to come up with ‘Big Ideas’ as part of an award-winning sustainability and enterprise initiative for schools. The Solutions for the Planet Big Ideas programme will be extending its reach nationwide with support from its first national partner, Tarmac, the UK’s leading sustainable building materials and construction solutions business.
Solutions for the Planet is a social enterprise that connects industry-leading business expertise with enquiring young minds to tackle society’s most pressing environmental and economic challenges.
More than 10,000 11 to 14-year-old pupils have already benefited from the scheme, which includes sustainability workshops and mentoring from partner organisations in the construction, utility and energy sectors. Following success in Yorkshire, the West Midlands and South-East England since its launch in September 2013, Solutions for the Planet’s Big Ideas programme is now being rolled out across the North of England and Scotland.
As the scheme’s first national partner, Tarmac will deliver mentoring to participating Key Stage 3 pupils across the country, highlighting the importance of sustainability and raising awareness of career opportunities within the construction sector.
Dr Martyn Kenny, Sustainability Director at Tarmac, said: “We’re really proud of our work with Solutions for the Planet, which has already seen Tarmac employees volunteer more than a thousand hours to support pupils in tackling real-world sustainability issues.
“The programme is a hugely enriching opportunity for both participants and our mentors, who teach new skills while benefitting from their students’ fresh thinking and original approach to business challenges.”
Central to the initiative is the ‘Big Ideas’ competition, which sees pupils work with partner businesses, which also include Arcadis, Brammer and Buck & Hickman, IGEM, Mears Group and SGN, to develop creative sustainability solutions for presentation in a national final held each July at in the Houses of Parliament.
As well as boosting students’ problem-solving abilities and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) knowledge, Solutions for the Planet aims to raise awareness of career opportunities available in the participating industries.
Jen Baughan, CEO, Solutions for the Planet, said: “We are delighted to be taking our partnership with Tarmac to the national level. This academic year, our national partnership with Tarmac and region partnerships will see over 4000 young people think about challenging sustainability issues and develop innovative, entrepreneurial solutions with the help of their business mentors.
“A growing body of research shows the more high-quality interactions young person has with employers decreases their chances of being classified as not in education, employment or training (NEET). Solutions for the Planet’s Big Ideas programme aims to tackle the lack of interest and engagement with STEM subjects and skills in 11-14 year olds, the underrepresentation of marginalised groups in Higher Education and the STEM workforce and 11-14 year olds lacking key employability and life skills.”
For more information about the programme including how schools and businesses can get involved, visit www.solutionsfortheplanet.co.uk.