Skip to content ↓

Alliance of Cambridge Schools come together for a Festival of Learning

Published on 07/09/19

As a new government plan aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the UK to almost zero by 2050, a collaboration of schools across Cambridge came together for a Festival of Learning on 9 July to immerse students in the issues of sustainability and climate change and inspire young minds to develop an ambitious voice to change their future world.

The alliance of local schools included Bassingbourn Village College, North Cambridge Academy,
Swavesey Village College, and the schools in the Stephen Perse Foundation. Pupils taking part
ranged from Year 1 & 2 to those in the sixth form with the emphasis being on the practical and
learning about the future possibilities.

Tricia Kelleher, principal at the Stephen Perse Foundation, explains the motivation behind this, the
second Festival of Learning: “This is not just a moment in the school year; we want the Festival to
be a movement. Last year the event received a tremendous reception from students and pupils,
stimulating the staging of an even more ambitious day of learning this July. We believe in
encouraging moral purpose in our students, to be the change-maker they each want to be.”

“Being in the heart of Cambridge where climate change is firmly on the agenda,” Tricia continues,
“we have the opportunity for students to learn and be inspired by the passion of global experts with
the latest knowledge about these critical issues.”

Samuel Fox, Deputy Principal from North Cambridge Academy (NCA) comments: “NCA believes
that partnerships can play a significant role in influencing and shaping the future for our students.
The Festival of Learning will have an impact on both their knowledge and ambition, helping them to
become global citizens with the potential to have a meaningful impact on their worlds.”

The Festival of Learning was attended by experts and global speakers including:

  • Rob Cameron, Chief Executive Officer, SustainAbility
  • Angus Forbes, Environmentalist and author of Global Planet Authority: How you can save the world
  • Cindy Forde, Former CEO, Cambridge Science Centre, Centre for Science & Policy, University of Cambridge
  • Elsa Lee, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
  • Hugh Shercliff, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge
  • Oksana Antonenko, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs, London School of Economic and Political Science
  • Mary Murphy, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, University of Cambridge
  • Madison Vorva, youth engagement and sustainability strategist, North American Association for Environmental Education
  • Charlie Ferguson, Future Infrastructure & Built Environment, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, University of Cambridge

The activities took place across different schools for the younger pupils, with the older students
hosted at the Stephen Perse Foundation Union Road site in central Cambridge. Younger pupils
were involved in projects including:

  • Animal diversity including a day at Shepreth Wildlife Park (Early Years Foundation Stage)
  • Forestry and the importance of the rainforests from food to medicine, defence against climate change and water to survival (Key Stage 1 – year 1 & 2)
  • Oceans and their place in the biosphere (Year 3 & 4)
  • Litter and recycling (Year 5 & 8)
  • The effects of air pollution of the lichens and insects in the local environment (Year 6)


You have not allowed cookies and this content may contain cookies.

If you would like to view this content please


The older students were organised into year groups to work on practical projects and take part in
discussions and debates about how to improve the environment and live sustainably using
knowledge and advances in science, engineering, ecology and geography. Speakers (as listed
above) helped the students consider the difficulties of negotiating on matters of sustainability and to
think about and try the practical solutions that are currently available to us. The practical projects
included building wind turbines, water purification experiments and solar cell manufacture.

Alongside the serious discussions and experiments, the Festival of Learning was wide-ranging in its
ambition and celebratory in its atmosphere, designed to embrace different aspects of the curriculum
and stimulate understanding. The day featured an eco-poetry workshop, a demonstration by Biz e-
bikes with entertainment from musicians in a Fête de la Musique all topped up with vegan and
vegetarian street food at lunch time. A team of student news reporters captured the activities and
thoughts of those taking part through film, images, audio interviews and in-depth articles which were
distributed through social media, podcasts and blogs.


You have not allowed cookies and this content may contain cookies.

If you would like to view this content please