Image of Allan Nickson“Myerscough College is committed to embedding the principles of sustainable development within the college-wide curriculum and the management of college resources. We want all our learners to have an understanding and involvement in the journey to become more sustainable whilst at college, at work and at home. This project provides a valuable learning experience for our Entry level learners by engaging them practically in sustainable development. Our overall objective is to encourage students to leave the college more ‘sustainability savvy’ at the end of their course than they were when they first came to Myerscough”.

Allan Nickson, Head of Sustainability
and Special Projects

The good practice in detail

Image of Peter Trice“The principle of the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – was adopted at the beginning of our sustainability journey”, says Allan. And this simple, yet forceful message is the cornerstone of sustainable development at Myerscough College.

Peter Trice, the Access team leader, continues: “We realised that the college was wasting files, folders and plastic wallets. As staff left the college it became apparent that some stationery items ended up in landfill. As part of a project, students identified that much of the college’s waste paper was used on one side only. Whilst some staff teams were reusing materials, there was no coordinated approach. The Access team was also exploring methods to introduce sustainability to the Access curriculum. During discussions between Allan and the team, the idea of a ‘reuse shop’ was born; to supply a service to the college and run by Entry level students in a business-like manner as part of their enrichment programme”.

Peter Trice, Access Team Leader

The first hurdle was to find a suitable location for the shop which, in a busy college with pressures on room space, was no easy task. Eventually a central location large enough to hold the stock and provide sufficient space for refurbishment was found. The shop opened for business in September 2009.

Q-BOXHave you identified key areas of waste which can be avoided? Can you engage students through assignments and enrichment in identifying opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle?

Dave Iveson checking weekly figures with James KervillDave Iveson, lecturer in life skills says, “We developed the business as a social enterprise with five groups of learners who each spend an hour a week in the shop. They refurbish files, package wallets into sets of 10 or 20 and manufacture message pads. The college has stopped purchasing new files, folders and message pads”.

Dave Iveson checking weekly figures with James Kervill

Catherine Baxter and other learners stock-checking“These files were being thrown away before. I’m labelling them so they can be reused, which is helping the environment and saving money”, says Catherine Baxter, one of the learners.

Catherine Baxter and other learners check the stock

The shop stocks a range of items including:

  • box files
  • Image of James Kervilllever arch files
  • A4 paper that has been used on one side only
  • plastic wallets
  • document wallets
  • plastic A4 ‘assignment folders.

Students use paper printed on one side only to make note pads, an idea which has been so successful that the college no longer purchases message pads. Plastic wallets are packaged into stacks of 20 for staff. All the items that are issued are recorded so that the students can measure the impact of their work and practise their numeracy skills. They also serve staff and record the transactions, which helps to improve confidence and communication skills.

“It’s good to be working with my friends in the shop and having fun counting and mending files”, says James Kevill, another learner.

James Kevill, a learner

Q-BOXDoes your commitment to sustainable development provide opportunities for learners to volunteer and work for social enterprises?

James Kervill serving Susan TealStaff obtain their files and folders from the shop which is conveniently located in the reception area and next to the main learning centre. “The shop provides a number of quality learning experiences for the learners. They are involved in numeracy and literacy skills, recording and monitoring the use of stationary and calculating weekly figures. The data can also be used to monitor cost saving”, says Peter Trice. “The learners develop their customer service skills and their confidence in interacting with staff in the shop environment. They are also producing opening and closing signs, publicity information and stock lists during their IT sessions”. Dave Iveson adds, “There will be further refinements to the project including a collection and delivery service. At the moment the students are involved in a consultation to name the shop”. “I enjoy being out of the classroom and meeting other teachers”, says Debbie King, another learner.

James serving Susan Teal, a member of the
teacher training team

So what are the benefits?

Image of Emma LloydStudents learn about the economic, environmental and social benefits of sustainable activity. Benefits such as: fewer purchases of new stationery products; less waste going to landfill; better use of paper before it is recycled; and less use of raw materials in the manufacture of new products. Socially, it is an excellent opportunity for students to supply a service and for the college community to work together in a ‘social enterprise’ where environmental and social objectives run alongside an economic objective.

Emma Lloyd, a learner

Top Tips

  • Minimise the need to recycle by reducing and reusing effectively. Recycle should be the last option to consider; it is a response to a challenge, whereas reduce and reuse address the challenge at source.
  • Find a central location for the shop.
  • Engage learners and staff fully in the process.
  • Keep records of transactions as evidence of the savings being made and as a source of information to support students’ learning.
  • Stop buying new stationery to encourage staff to use the shop.
  • Rotate the tasks in the shop to ensure that all learners develop a range of skills.
  • Package products to provide opportunities to improve learners’ numeracy skills.
  • Publish the list of products dispensed each week.

Uploaded - February 2010

What could you do next to improve your provision?

Answering all of the italicised questions in the Q boxes above will help you begin to health-check your current practice. Download all of the linked documents, compare them with your own or adapt them for your own use. Write a short action plan to get you from where you are now (what is good and what needs improving) to where you want to be.

The Building Better Practice (BBP) web resource is a great place to start if you want to benchmark yourself against other providers. It will show you the most common inspection strengths and weaknesses for each issue or topic, an analysis of the good practice found on inspection and a series of health-check questions to help you establish how you compare to others. Look specifically at how you could use BBP to improve your Leadership and management.

Actions for Quality Improvement (AQI) is a set of activities with resources around which you can run staff development sessions with your teams. The activities cover all aspects of the learner’s journey and will help your staff embed quality improvement in the heart of your provision.

If you need more help, ideas and resources for the process of self assessment then look at the Learner-Centred Self Assessment (LCSA) materials. This is a web-based or hard-copy resource to help you generate a rich source of evidence for your self-assessment report through professional discussion rather than the completion of lengthy forms.

9 Data Projects to Improve Your Provision is a set of projects which help you use data to explore all aspects of the learner’s journey for improvement themes.

The Self-Assessment Surgery Projects have proved very popular at the Preparing for Inspection events. They will help you determine whether or not your SAR is fit for purpose.

The Handbook for the inspection of further education and skills from September 2009 offers essential guidance on the process of inspection and how to interpret the Common Inspection Framework.

The Inspection Toolkit contains step-by-step guidance on how to prepare for inspection and covers such topics as choosing the right person to be nominee, using data and self assessment.