The Department for Education (DfE) released a draft strategy last month that focuses on sustainability, with a vision for the UK to be the “the world-leading education sector in sustainability and climate change by 2030”. It is being reviewed between now and the end of March 2022 and the final strategy is then to be published April 2022.
In the foreword of the draft strategy, the secretary of state for education, the Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, says “education is critical to fighting climate change” and that “success depends on collaborative working”. He also speaks of the benefits of a “whole-system approach”.
We identified some guiding principles running through the document:
- Partnerships and collaboration are key
- Evidence and insight are important – data plays a vital role
- There is a requirement for greater leadership and support for the education sector
From a food procurement perspective, we were particularly focused on reviewing Action Area 4 of the draft strategy which makes suggestions for operations and the supply chain:
- Embedding sustainability in decision making, purchasing and operations, with the intended outcome of greener supply chains/operational activity.
- An emphasis on young people understanding how to reduce waste and make sustainable choices (read more about this here).
- A greater focus on – and measurement of – waste and waste prevention, incorporating work with key partners such as Defra and WRAP.
- Also working closely with Defra regarding the recommendations made in the National Food Strategy (NFS) in 2021 and ahead of the report Defra will be publishing in 2022 to lay out how the NFS could and should be implemented.
- Increased support for schools when it comes to increasing the take up of sustainable school meals and sharing of best practice.
- A review of school food standards to encourage more plant based and meat free options in their foodservice provision.
- The provision of more sustainable products into schools. Making the Period Products scheme greener still.
Action Area 4 is just one of the five areas covered by the draft strategy. There is a great deal of crossover between these areas:
- Climate education
- Green skills and careers
- The education estate
We summarise that the draft strategy ends by stating four strategic aims:
- Excellence in education and skills for a changing world
- Net zero
- Resilient to climate change
- A better environment for future generations.
The final report will be released in April 2022 and at that time allmanhall will again review what it means for schools and how they, with partners, can collaborate.
In the meantime, many schools will be setting their own sustainability goals for the coming year. Now, more than ever, these new year’s resolutions are essential – but as a commitment for the future, rather than simply for January.