Working together for a sustainable college - MK College

Working together for a sustainable college 

By Lauren Gallyot, Sustainability Lead, Milton Keynes College Group

The role of Sustainability Lead is fairly new to the Further Education sector. There aren’t that many of us working full time in this space and the title might be unfamiliar amongst the jobs roles you’d usually expect in a college setting.  

Essentially, I’m here to try to make the College Group as efficient as we can be in terms of reducing our carbon footprint, minimising waste, giving nature a helping hand and ensuring no one is left behind in doing so. That can only happen if we’re all pulling in the same direction – staff, students, partners and communities. I may have the title, but the work depends on all of us. 

Plenty of great work is already happening across the College Group, including the use of solar panels and heat pumps, delivering staff carbon literacy training and installing bat and bird boxes. Not long into this role, it became clear to me that there’s a real appetite from staff and students to do more. The very fact that my job exists is proof of that. Colleges are now obliged by the Department for Education to appoint a sustainability lead, but in many cases this role is often added to existing staff’s responsibilities. Of course, sustainability should be part of everyone’s duty, but by creating a full-time position the College Group is showing how important sustainability is to them for creating fairer futures.  

So, what next? One of the things I aim to do is to encourage everyone to think about sustainability in a more hopeful way. It can feel like the problem is too big, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m keen to address this eco-anxiety and show everyone what we’re capable of achieving.  

Currently, we follow the Climate Action Roadmap put together by the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the EAUC (Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges) to guide our sustainability actions. We’ve also connected with other Further Education colleges around the country to share ideas, best practices and opportunities for collaboration. However, it’s fair to say that strategies that work for a college in Aberdeen won’t always be the same as those that are best in London or Liverpool. With that in mind, one of my first tasks is to produce a climate action plan specifically for Milton Keynes College Group. I’m in the process of visiting the different departments to find out more about our current practices and discuss the positive changes we can introduce. I’m also eager to reach out to local companies and communities in the city, to see how we can work together on this agenda. 

All this information will help to produce a climate action plan for the College Group, with measurable actions and policies that can make a difference.  

It may seem like an almighty challenge to cut carbon, reduce waste and improve the natural environment all whilst empowering communities, but together, I have hope we will make a difference. I very much look forward to sharing our progress with you.  

If you would like to get in touch about our work on climate action, please reach out via our social media channels: