On the back row: Steve Frampton MBE (in the hat), with Bishop Arnold to his right and Michael Jaffrain, Principal of Loreto College at the end row.

On the 25th June, Loreto College hosted students from across the Loreto English Education Network (LEEN) for the inaugural Loreto Sustainability Conference, a day of learning designed to empower young people to be environmental champions, to inspire collaboration across our network, and to equip them with the skills to be the sustainability leaders of the future.

The day was opened by Bishop John Arnold (the Bishop of Salford and Environmental Lead for the Bishops Conference) who shared a message of hope. The Bishop called on everyone to play their role in protecting our home as Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical letter Laudato Si, and encouraged us to think global, act local. Bishop John also reminded us that while small actions can seem insignificant in the face of such a huge challenge, we should remember that even a single raindrop can come together with others to form a great lake.

Students then participated in workshops designed to equip them with the skills and knowledge to address these great challenges. The first session led by Biology teacher Mr Foulder, an interactive computed-based session, explored the impact of energy generation on climate change and the challenges associated with differing energy mixes. Students were challenged to design energy mixes for several scenarios with varying financial resource and power demands, considering the financial cost, climate implications, reliability, output and public willingness for change.

In the second workshop, students heard about the changing landscape of green careers from a panel of experts including Christos Tsaprounis, People and Culture Director at AutoTrader, Phill Marples Group head of Sustainability at Music Magpie, Sonny Clements (ex-Loreto student) Sustainability Manager at Thomas Kneale and Rob Potter (ex-Loreto student) Project Manager for Educational Climate Change at Manchester City Council. During the session chaired by Steve Frampton MBE, the guests shared their experience of working in green jobs, how the skills needed to address the climate crisis are everchanging, and promoted the idea that every job is a green job.

The final workshop of the day was led by the National Education Nature Park team, primarily from the Royal Horticultural Society who are leading the Department for Education project designed to create a new virtual nature park from all green spaces across the education estate in England. Students took part in many biodiversity activities including assessing the biodiversity of our sports fields by completing a grassland habitat survey, a hidden nature challenge utilising technology to uncover hidden biodiversity and plating wildflowers in coir to explore how we can support pollinators in our gardens and schools.

The day ended with outstanding students from each school recognised with prizes supplied and presented by our conference chair Steve Frampton MBE from Sustainability Support for Further Education. Students were presented a sustainable bamboo trophy and a copy of meteorologist Laura Tobin’s book, Everyday Ways to Save Our Planet.

All students who attended the conference were a credit to their schools and aptly demonstrated the positive can-do attitude required to address the huge challenge of our changing climate. In his closing remarks, Steve Frampton challenged all students to take their learning from the day back to their schools and use it to be agents of change in their communities.