As of December 2016: 1 school has installed solar panels, 29 schools and 1 university and 1,915 children have received workshops and site visits
Solstice Renewables is proud to have developed an industry-leading approach to educational support linked to our solar farms. We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in the Community Benefits category for the 2015 Solar Power Portal Awards.
Solstice Renewables works with schools near our solar developments to educate future consumers about the causes and challenges of climate change and energy generation and consumption, relating this to their schools, homes, communities and the wider world.
Throughout our work with schools, we aim to show children how their learning relates to jobs in solar development and industry in general. As the renewable energy industry is science-based, Solstice aims to raise children’s aspirations towards careers in science and break down any misconceptions about scientists and science careers they may have. Recent research shows that only 15% of young people aspire to be a scientist (ASPIRES research 2014), a statistic we would like to improve.
Solstice Renewables has developed a three-pronged approach to this in the schools we work with:
- Supporting the development of key science skills and knowledge through tailored resources and solar park site visits and workshops;
- Highlighting how children’s learning relates to science careers throughout our resources and sessions;
- Introducing children to scientists and professionals working in renewable energy.
Each solar development benefits from a ring-fenced allocation of at least £2,000 a year for educational support during the lifetime of the solar park. This funding is used for site visits and learning sessions in schools near the solar park. Through the work of our specialised educational consultant, Solstice has developed a programme of site visits, workshops, schemes of work and projects to support this learning.
The resources we have developed dovetail with the National Curriculum and are designed to support learning from the Foundation Stage to Year 8. Key areas covered include:
Science – working scientifically, living things, habitats, plants, animals, evolution and inheritance, light, electricity, earth and space;
Citizenship – how the UK is governed, its political system and how citizens participate actively in its democratic systems;
Geography – place knowledge, human and physical geography, geographical skills and fieldwork;
Cross curricula links with English, maths, art and design.
Working closely with school teaching staff, our educational programmes start when the planning application is first submitted and continue throughout the 25-year lifetime of the solar farm. Our ambition is for local schools to embed these opportunities into their day-to-day learning and for children to gain greater awareness as consumers and to aspire to careers in science.
We may also be able to provide schools with additional resources, such as:
- A contribution towards funding an on-site Solar PV system for the school, for example if it is participating in 10:10’s Solar Schools project;
- Supporting the creation of a biodiversity area, bug hotel or weather station;
- Supporting sustainability, Eco-schools, Solar Schools, Learning Outside the Classroom, Forest Schools, Inspiring the Future and Primary Futures agendas.
We have already started delivering educational sessions at schools near some of our proposed solar farms, with fantastic feedback:
“The children really enjoyed the school visit and the class teachers intend to use this as part of their continuing work on renewable energy in the Autumn Term.
“If the solar park proposal goes ahead, the children will be able to make visits to the site, which will really bring their learning to life! Also the contribution that Solstice Renewables will make to our Solar Schools fund will make an enormous difference, as we hope that we too might be generating our own solar power at Gatehouse Primary after the solar park is completed.” – Claire Pearce, Deputy Head Teacher, Gatehouse Primary, Dawlish, Devon
“The children were able to meet the landowner and an archaeologist and to begin to explore the different jobs people have in a project like this. We value the input that companies can give to our learning, particularly if they are working in the local area.
“The activities were really relevant and well thought out with suitable resources. The children loved using the binoculars … I do hope that we can follow up with another visit if the plans go ahead.”– Mrs Gill Gilmartin Head of Teaching and Learning, Shaugh Prior Primary School, Devon
“It has been a fantastic opportunity for the children of both schools to discuss possible future renewable energy solutions and to be able to relate these to their own schools and local community.” – Mrs Price, Headteacher, Packington Primary School, Leicestershire
“I liked the fact that we got to go out for our science lesson and we got to see the site before the solar park was built.”
“I didn’t know ladybirds would be in that type of area.” – Year 6 Children, Emmanuel Middle School, Verwood, Dorset
“It was lovely to see Year 6 students totally absorbed. I particularly liked it when one child said, ‘I hadn’t realised how much I loved trees and plants!’” – Sarah Addison, Head of Science Emmanuel Middle School, Verwood, Dorset