Solutions for the Planet’s Big Ideas programme is a STEM programme with a focus on sustainability and entrepreneurship.

The Big Ideas programme is a science, technology engineering and maths  programme delivered in partnership with companies based locally, who support teams of students (in KS3 or S1-3) to generate solutions or ‘Big Ideas’ to sustainability issues.

Other Programmes and Projects

CREST Awards

is the UK’s only nationally-recognised scheme for student-led project work in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).  There are six CREST Award levels, the fourth of which is Bronze, ‘an introduction to STEM project work for 11-14-year-olds working in teams’.

Since the start of the 2016/17 Big Ideas programme, Solutions for the Planet has been working with the British Science Association as a CREST Award delivery partner.  Our Global Good Award-winning Big Ideas programme is CREST-accredited to Bronze Level.  All the members of the school teams that participate in a Big Ideas Day, submit their completed business plan into our Big Ideas Competition by the end of March, and continue on to present their Big Idea at a Regional Final, are eligible for a CREST Bronze Award!  These Awards are sponsored by Solutions for the Planet’s business partners.

Find out more here.


Climate-KIC is the European Union’s main climate innovation initiative.  It is one of three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) created in 2010 by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The EIT is an EU body whose mission is to create sustainable growth.

In 2017, our CEO Jen Baughan travelled to Amsterdam and Valencia (read her article here) to consult on Climate-KIC’s exciting new pilot ‘Green Innovation in Schools’, and this year we have been working in partnership to test a range of visual learning tools to encourage creative and critical project development.  These tools were originally designed for adult users to facilitate project management and idea development within the workplace.  However, Climate-KIC and S4TP saw the potential for such tools to be adapted for use with much younger students to support problem solving and project management within learning tasks.

Find out more about the project here.

Work experience

Solutions for the Planet offers and creates work experience opportunities with our business partners as part of our commitment to prepare young people for the world of work, where they are able to respond to 21st century sustainability challenges.

“Research shows that young adults who have greater levels of contact with employers whilst at school are significantly less likely to become NEET and can expect, when in full-time employment, to earn up to 18% more than peers who had no such workplace exposure.”
(Source: Percy, C & Mann, A. 2014. ‘School-mediated employer engagement and labour market outcomes for young adults Wage premia, NEET outcomes and career confidence’ in Mann et al, eds. Understanding Employer Engagement in Education. London & New York: Routledge.

“Inspiration about enterprise should begin at an early age when children are open to the ideas and influences which will shape their futures.”
Lord Young, ‘Enterprise for All’

We continue to collaborate with our partners to provide more work experience opportunities with a focus on STEM, entrepreneurship and sustainable development in the regions we operate.

Profile 1: Marissa Chauhan, Year 10, Alderbrook School

After meeting at the World Skills Show at the NEC in Birmingham, Marissa spent three days with the S4TP team assisting with the shortlisting and feedback process for teams during half term, April 2015.  Following this, she was invited back as a member of the judging panel at the competition final in London.

“The biggest highlight for me was meeting and working with different people, allowing me to explore and think differently. Also, I have gained the experience to adapt to different environments, an office as compared to a classroom. S4TP challenged my skills and concentration as I performed longer hours, from nine ’til five, rather than a typical six and a half hour school day – so I was guaranteed a good night’s sleep!

This has been an unforgettable work placement – starting at the Worlds Skills Show and concluding at Westminster Palace in London. What a journey – one that I’ve enjoyed and without doubt will shape my future career!”

Read more about Marissa’s Work Experience here.

Profile 2: Izzy Schofield, Year 10,

Following Marissa’s success as a judge at the Finals in 2015, we decided it would be great to have a young person on the judging panel at the finals every year. In 2016 we invited Izzy Schofield to join the panel, giving her an opportunity to interact with a wide variety of business people, learn about each of the finalist teams and their Big Ideas, as well as be a judge.

“I was absolutely delighted and honoured to be asked to be the student judge at the Solutions for the Planet final this year. I was amazed by the amount of hard work and dedication that went into creating these ideas and how detailed and complex the business plans were, particularly as these were from people of my age. I learnt that young people have a real passion and drive to create ideas to influence a better world. I felt privileged to play a part in that and I would very much recommend the Solutions for the Planet programme to anyone of my age.”

Profile 3: Callum Gladdish, Longfield Academy

Callum undertook various tasks during his week with SGN at their office in Orpington, allowing him to view and understand that the process of being able to turn on a cooker or boiler is much more complex than you might think.

His experience included time with the admin department inputting and updating training records and competencies of operatives; working with the Network Maintenance process that manages equipment which regulates gas pressures across the network; working with the West Kent Operations process, inputting work records, time sheets and understanding the day-to-day requirements to ensure that operatives are available to respond to a public-reported escape over a twenty four hour period; and with the Replacement process learning about the planning and day-to-day requirements when projects are undertaken to replace metallic gas mains and services.

After his week with SGN, Callum expressed an interest in the processes of designing gas networks and the requirements of training, in particular maintaining records and planning of courses.

Profile 4: Nusaybah, Year 10, Sarah Bonnell School

After the team that she was part of, Vitaliite, came first in the Solution for the Planet Big Ideas Competition in 2016 Nusaybah decided that she would like to find out more about SGN, the company one of her mentors, Victoria Richardson-Burton, worked for.  So, she applied for a five day work experience placement with them and these were her thoughts:

“S4TP is important because it ensures that young people have a voice to share their ideas and makes us think about real problems and how we can solve them through simple solutions, which are actually possible for young people to create. It makes us more aware of the problems surrounding us and the actual scale of them.

I think it’s important for companies to offer work placements so that we can actually get an insight into the work that people do. I had no idea what SGN did but this placement has made me understand how SGN, and similar companies work and the different jobs and departments that make up the company.

This experience has definitely made me more interested in this sort of work and has definitely enhanced my interest in the STEM sector.”

Past Projects

Your Green Future

Your Green Future is an interactive event run by the charity Severn Wye Energy Agency, which engages hundreds of 11- to 18-year-olds with the role of sustainability in the economy and what this could mean for their future careers.

It does this through a series of creative workshops, which see students work with businesses to investigate genuine industry challenges and the role of STEM and sustainability in innovation, business, waste, energy and urban design.

Solutions for the Planet has created and run workshops at the event for the last two years.  Read more about our involvement in the 2018 event here.

DIFR Awards

Solutions for the Planet partnered with UnLtd’s Do It For Real programme, to provide cash awards and support to our young entrepreneurs who wanted test out or set up their Big Idea.  Young people applying for awards through Solutions for the Planet were able to apply for a Try It Award (Up to £500) to help them research, plan and even run some events for their venture. Some of the groups were then eligible to apply for a Do It Award (up to £1,000), which were designed to help them turn their ideas into real ventures with more structure.

Do It For Real is a national youth programme brought to you by Spirit of 2012, Comic Relief and Unltd to mobilise young social entrepreneurs through sharing knowledge, volunteering and enabling young people to start, grow and build sustainable social action projects.