“Solutions for the Planet is a great programme to inspire and develop students into independent confident individuals.  It has made me more aware of the issues surrounding our planet and how amazing our students are!”

Teacher, Alderbrook School, Solihull

Meet the teachers

Our fantastic teachers from participating schools lead on the programme in their schools, running development sessions which mentors are invited to attend.  They work with the teams from their schools, creatively and collaboratively, to develop they Big Ideas.  We asked some of our current teachers to tell us a little bit more about themselves and what they get out of delivering the Big Ideas programme in their schools.

Gareth Darby

Heath Park School, Wolverhampton
Position: Science Teacher

“Solutions for the Planet is a programme to help pupils think about the planet and its future, as well as their own. It develops a lot of interpersonal skills in doing so… Do it!”

Read more from Gareth

Heath Park chose to work with Solutions for the Planet to extend our beyond curriculum learning within the STEM subjects and Entrepreneurship.

I have always had a passion for the importance of young people’s education beyond the classroom and experiencing things which are not usually accessible in the classroom or lab.

Our students have learnt the importance of

  • responsibility
  • ownership of their own work
  • taking opportunities that take them beyond the curriculum
  • teamwork
  • enterprise

They have developed

  • STEM knowledge
  • Business/entrepreneurship knowledge
  • Confidence in presenting and talking to others

As a teacher I have really appreciated the importance of STEM and entrepreneurship for future generations.

My teaching has improved through teaching pupils something outside of my specialism and opened my eyes to opportunities that are out there for our young people.

Seeing the students representing the school in such a professional environment and manner has been one of the best parts to the programme.

Committing time outside of school to see all pupils is definitely one of the few challenges. There are so many good ideas. It is difficult to give as much time as you really want to all teams because you get so involved with them all. Work with other staff as well as the business mentors really helps.

Solutions for the Planet is a programme to help pupils think about the planet and its future, as well as their own. It develops a lot of interpersonal skills in doing so.

I would say to others considering participation in the programme “Do it!”

Participating in the programme has very much met my expectations. It does a lot of young people a lot of good, so it must be a winner!

Mandy Tucker

Alderbrook School, Solihull
Position: Science Teacher and STEM Coordinator

“Solutions for the Planet is a great programme to inspire and develop students into independent confident individuals.  It has made me more aware of the issues surrounding our planet and how amazing our students are! “

Read more from Mandy

Alderbrook School got involved with Solutions for the Planet as it was a STEM activity that fitted into my job role and it sounded like an all-round activity that students would be interested in.  I personally feel it is important to make students aware of different STEM careers and also because am interested in making the planet a better place for future generations.

All of the students have gained a lot of confidence and learnt how to work well as a part of a team. They understand how to develop ideas and market them. They are also now very aware of the issues surrounding the environment.  Being involved has made me more aware of the issues surrounding our planet.

The best part of the programme has been seeing the students develop from shy into confident individuals and getting to the finals.

Solutions for the Planet has made me more aware of the issues surrounding our planet. How amazing our students are!  The most challenging part of the programme was getting the students to attend and complete on time and the amount of time I have had to give myself.

Solutions for the Planet is a great programme to inspire and develop students into independent confident individuals.

Participating in the programme has met my expectations because two of my teams managed to get into the finals!!  I would say to other schools go for it, you will be amazed at what the students can achieve, although it is hard work you will be feel proud at what they achieve.

Chris Metcalf

Tong High School, Bradford
Position: Consultant (Retired Primary Head teacher)

“S4TP is an exciting environmental project which gives students the opportunity to develop confidence and skills as they go on a journey to improve something in the world that they feel passionate about.”

Read more from Chris

Tong High School got involved in Solutions for the Planet three years ago because we were looking for an opportunity for Y7 students to develop new skills and have the opportunity to do something positive, working with others, to improve the environment.
Personally, I have always been interested in Environmental Education and as I was supporting the new Y7 students at Tong I jumped at the chance to take the lead and support the students.

I have the students involved grow in confidence in many areas;
They have further developed their research skills
They have a greater understanding of what is needed to develop a Business Plan
They have improved their presentation skills greatly and
They have learnt to cooperate and work collectively in a team.
They loved having the opportunity to further develop their original ideas and many students commented that the work they completed was the best thing they have done all year!

The programme has confirmed to me that students produce their best work when they are motivated and interested in what they are doing. I have developed a much better understanding of the various components needed to complete a Business Plan.
I always loved my teaching and this has given me the opportunity again to work with students and be creative. Seeing how excited and interested many of the students were during the lessons was very rewarding. I have also really enjoyed meeting the different people involved in the project too.  I have also learnt that students are very passionate about wanting to improve our world.

One of the more challenging parts of the programme is that I am not in school every day.  This has meant I have had to rely on others a lot of the time, however, the full time staff have given me great support and I can tell they really value the project.S4TP is an exciting environmental project which gives students the opportunity to develop confidence and skills as they go on a journey to improve something in the world that they feel passionate about.
Don’t hesitate, get involved! I have seen the positive impact it can have in school.

Participating in Solutions for the Planet has gone way beyond what I expected and it has provided many excellent experiences for everyone involved.

Ms Oleschuk

Dorra Oleschuk

Colton Hills Community School, Wolverhampton
Position: Science Teacher

“I personally I felt I learned many things as a person, and I
encourage every school to be part of this amazing programme
where the sky is the limit for every student’s ideas!”

Read more from Dorra

When I started at Colton Hills Community School, it was the first time I had heard about Solution for the Planet. I was so intrigued that I contacted Sarah (as she was the West Midlands Programme Coordinator), and, even though we had missed the deadline to apply for the programme this year, I asked her to let us join again.

I had a feeling that I would enjoy the experience. I decided to give a chance not only to the bright students, so I opened up the door to every student in our Key Stage 3 classes, regardless of their educational performance or their language ability.

This year we had nine teams submit a business plan – the biggest number from the school in many years! All the teams who completed a business plan learned a lot from the experience. They learned how to work as a team. Lunch time for the two months before the school closed (due to the coronavirus outbreak) was an opportunity for the teams to progress and build up their ideas.

The best part was when we moved to the online competition, as I saw how my students are growing to understand better and better how to build their ideas. We were fortunate to have five teams get through to the regional finals stage. Iit was chaotic at a times but I saw the commitment of the students and I felt it helped the students to stay in contact with me and stay focused. They learned how it is important to work under the pressure of the deadlines.

I personally I felt I learned many things as a person, and I encourage every school to be part of this amazing programme where the sky is the limit for every student’s ideas.

Ms Beattie

Nicole Beattie

Bannockburn High School, Stirling
Position: Technological Studies Teacher

“It has been an inspiring experience and I look
forward to getting involved again next year!”

Read more from Nicole

After reading about the Solutions for the Planet Big Ideas Programme, I became instantly excited about running it in our school.

STEM is a vital part of our school curriculum and the Big Ideas Programme has allowed our pupils to engage in exciting experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, alongside the school curriculum. It has given our pupils a strong awareness of the sustainability issues we are facing in the 21st century. It has shown them that they CAN make a difference, but more importantly, through their involvement in the programme, my pupils have shown me that they WANT to make a difference!

Pupils have been given an insight into business enterprise through creating their own businesses. Working towards creating their business plan, developing, and marketing their Big Idea, has shown our pupils the importance of being responsible for their own work and taking ownership of it, in order to be the best they can be. Our school was provided with great resources and support throughout the year. The team at Solutions for the Planet are extremely friendly and have been a pleasure to work with.

Throughout the year we have been privileged to meet many inspiring business mentors. Having the mentors out to the school to meet and work with our pupils has really inspired them and has allowed us to create many business network links with our school.

The challenges set in the lead up to the reginal finals have been fantastic, each week there has been lots of exciting and varied options for our pupils to choose from. I am so proud of what my pupils have been able to achieve and the passion they have shown for their Big Ideas.

Overall, it has been an inspiring experience and I look forward to getting involved again next year.

If you are considering taking part in the programme, I would say absolutely, go for it!

Ms Pearce

Sarah Pearce

Outwood Academy Freeston, Normanton
Position: Teacher

“The whole programme has been a truly memorable and inspirational experience for all of us and will have a long-lasting effect. It has given our students an opportunity to engage in real life issues and make a difference to the world around them.”

Read more from Sarah

Outwood Academy Freeston joined the Solutions for the Planet Big Ideas Programme this year because it was a STEM activity that we knew our pupils cared a lot about. It was also an opportunity for pupils to find out more about STEM careers. On the Big Ideas Day there were lots of engaging activities that our pupils enjoyed and learnt a lot about the environment and key sustainability issues affecting our planet. Pupils discovered that it is down to them to save our planet. This realisation led to an amazing variety of excellent Big Ideas such as a ship that recycles oil spillages, an eco-friendly drone that plants trees and an Eco-Bike that can recharge your phone and laptop through your kinetic energy. Our pupils learnt through teamwork and collaboration that together they can create incredible ideas to make the world a better place. They also gained key employability skills as a result of the experience.

Our presenter Claire Fitton was outstanding and had an amazing rapport with pupils and staff. She encouraged our pupils throughout the day and so many of them presented their Big Ideas to the rest of their year group at the end of the session. We were also joined by fantastic industrial mentors from Kongsberg Automotive, a business local to the school. Claire and the team from Kongsberg Automotive continued to support our pupils at an after-school enrichment club. Kongsberg continued to support our whole school during careers week and are also planning to support year 10 mock interviews.

The highlight of the whole experience for me has been to see how our pupils have grown in confidence. They were initially uncertain, but through working collaboratively and researching their ideas, they created some very professional business plans. They amazed themselves with what they could achieve. They have not only developed incredible ideas to make the world a better place, but have learnt about marketing, writing speeches, creating logos and presentations, and how to develop a business plan. The whole programme has been a truly memorable and inspirational experience for all of us and will have a long-lasting effect. It has given our students an opportunity to engage in real life issues and make a difference to the world around them. We are thoroughly looking forward to the next set of Big Ideas for Solutions for the Planet’s Big Ideas Programme 2021.

Mr Gibson

Nick Gibson

Cams Hill School, Portsmouth
Position: Science Teacher

“This is a tremendous opportunity for pupils to flourish outside the normal curriculum, and I would recommend it to any school.”

Read more from Nick

Cams Hill School first took part in the Big Ideas programme in 2018. This has had a beneficial effect on the pupils involved, inspiring at least one of the participants to pursue a career in an engineering discipline. I became involved when the school ran the programme again this year, acting as the school’s coordinator for the event.

The programme has been a very effective avenue to channel the students’ general concern for the environment into tangible ideas. On the “Big Ideas Day” it was amazing to see how pupils who are usually quiet were quickly bringing ideas together and gaining the confidence to present their ideas to the school.
As a high-achieving school, Cams Hill is always looking for ways of stretching its most able pupils. The Big Ideas programme has certainly enabled this. It has been heartening to know that pupils are still engaged in this during lockdown, and I feel a great sense of excitement for them as the regional finals draw near.

This is a tremendous opportunity for pupils to flourish outside the normal curriculum, and I would recommend it to any school.