Reflecting on Bristol Education Partnership’s ‘Towards Net Zero’ Event

An image of the 'Towards net Zero' event in Bristol City hall.

Speaking at Bristol Education Partnership’s ‘Towards Net Zero’ event at City Hall yesterday was a great experience. Students and staff from ten Bristol secondary schools came together to share progress and plans on how to reach net zero by 2030.

The Bristol Education Partnership is a collaboration between fourteen of Bristol’s state and independent schools, Bristol City Council and the city’s two universities, working together to tackle disadvantage.

Student voice is a key part of the partnership, there are active Student Partnership Board representatives from all partner schools. They contribute to decision making on projects and create activities for the partnership to undertake.

I had the pleasure of speaking with some of these students at the event yesterday, they showed the pop-up exhibition, showcasing the work from their schools.

It was encouraging to see the positivity and passion these young people had towards the current climate and ecological crises. They were empowered to make a difference in their communities, the city and in the curriculum.

I enjoyed hearing about the diverse range of projects happening at schools across Bristol, including how Orchard have rewilded some of their grounds and created a working garden and compost. How Fairfield’s eco team are working with Sustrans to encourage more walking and cycling to school, Cotham School’s wildlife conservation group, and St Brendan’s tree planting mission, which has already planted 60 trees.

One of the billboards showing the schools work towards net zero.

At the event I was joined by Jonathan Clear, the Department for Education’s Chief Sustainability Officer, who was clearly impressed with the work of the Bristol Education Partnership. He said “I’d like to say a huge thank you to you all, it’s clear Bristol is doing so much as a community, it’s inspiring to the rest of the country. I was blown away talking to you school leaders, and how much they care about the students and the planet, it gives me a huge amount of faith”

Bristol’s Dr Mya-Rose Craig, the superb environmental activist and author ‘Birdgirl’, spoke to the students via video link from her university, telling the young people “keep doing what you’re doing, your voices will be heard, you can and will make a difference”.

The Bristol Education Partnership is one of a small number of state/independent partnerships across the country. This work is innovative in encouraging collaboration across the two sectors – with staff and students working together at many different levels, leveraging extensive support from university partners. 

The climate challenge and other projects run by the BEP has attracted well known speakers and visitors from across the UK and from overseas. Yesterday we were joined by representatives from the University of Bristol, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Resource Futures, Sustainable Hive, Sustrans and more.

As the first local authority to declare a climate emergency, we’re leading the way nationally in a commitment to net zero. The One City Climate Strategy was developed to tackle both the climate and ecological crisis together, as a city. It was truly inspiring to watch this collaboration between key partners in the city and see the fruition of work from the partnership.

I want to extend my thanks to all the students and teachers, schools and partners in the Bristol Education Partnership for sharing their ideas, and for their continued work to make their schools net zero. I also want to thank Burges Salmon for the support they have showed for the event, it has been a great success for all the students and partners.

More Information:

Read more about the Bristol Education Partnership

Find out what other climate action the council is taking

Get inspired to take climate action at the Bristol Climate Hub