Promoting Education for Sustainable development in Schools and Colleges through HE action

Grant type: Research
Round: Research grant 2007
Amount awarded £10,000.00
Completed: August 2009
Leader(s): Dr Peter Hopkinson
Organisation: University of Bradford
Contact Email:
Contact phone: 01274234235
Bradford Metropolitan Council
Sustainable Development Office
Centre for Community Engagement
School of LifeLong Learning Education and Development, Bradford University
Children's University
School of Lifelong Learning Education and Development, Bradford University
Environmental Association of Universitie and Colleges
University of Gloucester
Start Date: 12 September 2007
End Date: 30 April 2009
Interim report received: 7 August 2008
Final report received: 6 August 2009


The aim of this project is to assess the role and potential effectiveness of HE student volunteering and the exploitation of the HE curriculum to affect pro-sustainability changes on local schools and colleges through student action and involvement. This will be mediated through an education for sustainable development network between schools, FE colleges and the University within the Bradford District.


To develop an ‘informal’ ESD curriculum to support student action and learning around ESDTo measure the effectiveness of the informal ESD curriculum model on participants values, attitudes, beliefs and impacts on the local community Create a vertical ESD network between local schools. Colleges and University to support discussion, knowledge exchange and direct support for ESD developments within the participating schools, FE colleges and the University

Identify and build on best practice within each sector participating in the network
and act as a catalyst for wider educational developments around education for sustainable development within the Bradford District and across the sectors


The University of Bradford has a track record in student volunteering through its UCAN project. Some of the achievements of UCAN are as follows.

  • Three ‘Outstanding Project’ HEACF Awards for its Student led Volunteering Projects. The UCAN project is a beacon project for student volunteering
  • Nationally, UCAN represents Workers in Student Community Volunteering (WiSCV), and works closely with Student Volunteering England, and Volunteering England as one of the front runners in the development of volunteering best practice, training and events.
  • Places around 1,300 students in internal and external volunteering opportunities. 12 discrete student led volunteering projects, examples include: Peace Education Group; Smoke Free Homes Project; Cycle Right; UBU Boutique; First Aid Training; Technology Buffs, and others.
  • On track to have a total of 300 quality checked volunteering opportunities available for student and staff volunteers..
  • 25% of new opportunities have been a result of UCAN working with local community groups helping them to develop best volunteering practice, recruit volunteers from the University, and move forward allowing them to meet their aims and objectives and sustain. Locally, we are one of the best respected organisations of the Bradford Volunteering Strategic Partnership.

To date sustainable development has not been a focus of UCAN although a number of its projects might be considered to form part of an ESD agenda. Equally UCAN has not had any specific focused projects with local schools and colleges other than individual placements. Whilst UCAN has created a structure and process to enable majority of its volunteers to gain some form of nationally recognised award or accreditation there has not been the resource or support to develop or exploit further linkages with the formal curriculum. The mergence of Ecoversity provides an opportunity to develop these linkages and this project specifically provides a means to pilot an ESD volunteering and student learning project over the next 12 months.

The geographically bounded network and partnership approach envisaged in the project enables the internal student volunteering and ESD curriculum developments to be joined up and linked in a coherent way into the proposed network.