History of the SSA

Overview of the Sustainable Schools Alliance


What is the Sustainable Schools Alliance (SSA)?

The Sustainable Schools Alliance aims to provide a clear and compelling offer of support to all schools in the country, and help them to put sustainability at the heart of what they do. The evidence for the benefits of Sustainable Schools is stronger than ever. However, the government’s focus on greater school freedom means local and civil society organizations must act to help schools to pursue sustainability.

The Alliance is not a separate organisation; instead it is a network, working on the behalf of all of us and through which existing organisations can work together more effectively.  Initially there were three working group leaders: the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), Think Global and Sustainability and Environmental Education (SEEd). SEEd is now the only working group member and taking forward the new structure to sustain the SSA. For governance reasons the SSA is now run through SEEd, which acts as the secretariat/manager and Chair.


History of the SSA

Initial Consultations – 2010/2011

The consultation for the development of the Alliance was held across the country and online between December 2010 and February 2011. These consultations helped to design the Alliance including its vision, mission and its five objectives. 300 organisations participated in these discussions.


SSA Launch – March 2011

The SSA was officially launched by Lord Hill (Green Minister for the Department for Education) on the 29th of March 2011 at the London School of Economics in London. The launch ceremony brought together over 100 individuals, organisations, and schools from across sectors and covering all aspects of sustainable development in schools. Discussions focused on the five SSA objectives and practical suggestions of ways forward.

The consultations and the launch were sponsored by SEEd, the NCB, Think Global, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Global Action Plan (GAP) and Eco Schools.


Ongoing work

All SS resources were loaded up onto the SEEd website as they were being condensed on the DfE website in line with communications policy.

Throughout 2011/12 there have been numerous meetings, events and policy fora, in which discussions covered project areas, approaches, funding models, and membership models. DfE, and DfID have been observers at many of these meetings

In July 2011 the SSA was endorsed by DfE in the Defra Natural Environment White Paper

In July 2012 WWF, the NCB and SEEd funded the TES Sustainable Schools Award.

In March 2012 SEEd launched the Sustainable Curriculum Project.

In December 2012 SEEd invited organisations onto the SSA Board, a working Board, to continue this important work on behalf of the the hundreds of organisations who work to support our schools. There are 25 places covering all 8 doorways,  approaches, areas of the country and sizes and types of organisations. This Board will sit initially for 3 years. A part-time coordinator has been appointed.


Vision, mission and objectives

The vision, mission and the five objectives were developed at the initial consultation stage.


“Every child and young person experiences teaching and learning that enables them to feel safe and cared for in a changing world, where they want and are able to live sustainably and encourage others to do the same.”


“To drive change in the education system so that all schools put sustainability at the heart of their curriculum, their campus and their community. The Alliance will seek to achieve this by providing support and resources that help to link agendas around education for sustainable development, development education and health and well-being work in schools.”



At the launch event participants worked on the five different objectives, establishing priorities and targets, and developing several initial working projects. A summary of the discussions about ‘what could be achieved’ is given below each objective.

Objective 1: “Develop effective communication and information routes for schools and providers of support for schools e.g., an information hub”

What could we achieve?

  • Compelling narrative about the purpose of the Alliance
  • Define the audience: teachers, staff, students? how do we approach them?
  • Methodology of how to map the sector and create bank of case studies/skills
  • Strategy to ensure an easy way to give schools access to what they need


Objective 2: “Develop effective engagement by, for example, promoting clear benefits for teaching and learning”

What could we achieve?

  • Member organisations have a route-map and process to overcome/ understand the barriers
  • SS school champions identified and nurtured – local level
  • Schools are still hearing about SD – and SSA decided where is the ‘voice’ (the view in this group is that it should come from young people)


Objective 3: “Through collaboration we will enable new and innovative practice for embedding sustainability in schools”

What could we achieve?

  • All schools to know about the Alliance
  • 1000 [?] projects/activities/approaches shared and promoted
  • Pupils motivated and actively engaged with the Alliance
  • Website looking different and has grown


Objective 4: “Building consensus about what is good practice and disseminate to all stakeholders”

 What could we achieve?

  • Generating Case Studies to share from and get people in touch with each other –signposting, what it is you’re looking for, knowing who to piggy back on people’s sustainability efforts
  • Communicate rapidly – online blog
  • Identifying funding opportunities and means of making what you’re doing economically sustainable

Objective 5: “Encouraging the development and use of local and national measures of progress against the vision of the Alliance”

What could we achieve?

  • Identify easily measurable standards at school [community] level
  • Revise S3 (SS audit tool)?
  • Look at models of leadership for sustainability – training link
  • Collect some basic metrics and set a target number of interactions with schools
  • The minimum achievement would be to define where we are and what we want to be



SSA possible Project Areas identified

On the basis of the launch outputs and ideas above the following potential project areas have been suggested and grouped:

  1. Gathering examples of good practice / evidence / stories/ case studies
  2. Connecting; hubs, networks, clusters, maps, peer learning, effective teaching & learning
  3. Audience analysis
  4. Youth voice, CPD, leadership
  5. Alliance Narrative and scope/breadth
  6. Metrics and Evaluation




Consultation/Launch Organisations and Individuals

Organisation   Organisation
Animal Lawsuits Food for Life Partnership
Architecture Centre Bristol Footprint Friends Foundation
Barnet Council Fraser & Griffin Sustainability
Bath Spa University Friends of the Earth Youth and Education Network
Birmingham FOE Garden Organic
Bishops Wood Centre Geographical Association
Blooming Green Global Action Plan
Bolton Environmental Action Team Greenspace Management
Bournemouth University Groundwork Kent and Medway, London
Bristol Council Groundwork Lancashire West & Wigan
Buckinghamshire County Council Groundwork South West, UK
Build Self Group Hammersmith and Fulham Urban Studies Centre
CABE Hampshire County Council
Carbon Trust Haringey Council
Carey Ambrose Ltd Heath Avery Architects
Carnyorth Environmental Education Centre Holy Cross School
CASE Education I Am Tomorrow
Cassop Primary School   Impington Village College
Centre for Global Awareness Institute of Education
Centre for Global Education York Intelligent Hands
Chosen Hill School Interclimate
Commonwork Islington Council
Coombe Boys School IYSS, Croyden
Coventry City Council Jacolly Puppet Theatre
Craymoor Environment Trust John Townsend Trust
Cumbria Council Keep Britain Tidy
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust King’s College London
Devon County Council Kingswood School
Durham County Council Kirklees Council
East Reservoir Community Garden Kirklees Learning Service
East Sussex County Council Knaphill School
Eco Schools Knowsley MBC
ecoACTIVE Lancashire County Council
EDF Energy Learning 2B Sustainable Ltd
Education Bradford Learning Through Landscapes
Education Connections Lifeworlds Learning
Education Leeds Link Community Development
Emerge 3rs London Borough of Camden
Environment Agency London Borough of Kingston upn Thames
Envision London Borough of Newham
Essex County Council London Environmental Education Forum
Farming and Countryside Education London South Bank University
Farnborough Grange School London Sustainable Schools Forum
Federation of City Farms and Gardens Magnified Learning
Manchester Environmental Education Network Resike
Marmax resourcefutures
Masefield Architects RHS
Mayville Primary School Roehampton University
NAEE Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
Natural England RSPB
Norfolk Council School Food Matter
North East Councils Schools Global Garden Network
npower SE2
Osbourne Middle School Severn Wye Energy Agency Ltd
Otesha Project Sheffield City Council
Oxfam Campaigns Sheffield County Council
Oxfam Italia SITA South Gloucestershire
Partnerships for Schools SkillsActive
Pennage Solar Aid
People and Planet Soundscape
Plan UK South East Water
Play England Southampton City Council
Play Space   Southwark Council
Practical Action Sparsolt Schools’ Centre for Environmental Ed
Rainforest Action Network Ghana St Columb Minor School
Redbridge Council Sustain Education
Renaissance South East   Sustainable Education Project
Rendcom School   Sustrans
Manchester Environmental Education Network Sutton Council
Marmax TADEA Limited
Masefield Architects Tameside Council
Mayville Primary School Telford and Wrekin Council
NAEE The Asia High School
Natural England   The Castle School
Norfolk Council The Eden Project
North East Councils The Learning Trust
npower The Skinners’ School
Osbourne Middle School Tide ~ global learning
Otesha Project TRAID
Oxfam Campaigns Unicef
Oxfam Italia Upper Shirley High
Partnerships for Schools Veolia Water
Pennage Walk England
People and Planet   Wandsworth Children’s Services
Plan UK   Waste Watch
Play England Wat Tyler Country Park
Play Space Westminster Council
Practical Action Wild Place Your Space
Rainforest Action Network Ghana WISE – We Inspire Sustainability Education
Redbridge Council WM Sustainable Schools
Renaissance South East Woodland Trust
Rendcom School Worcestershire Council
SEEd, Think Global, NCB World Jungle
+17 Individuals WWF-UK

Launch Organisations and Individuals

Ashley School
AVIVA Group Corporate Responsibility Director
Becoming green
Bexley Healthy Schools Coordinator
Brabins Endowed School
Community, Youth & Education
Director, Development Education Research Centre
East Midlands – university of Leicester
EC Development Education Project Manager
EcoSchools KBT
Flow Associates
Food for Life Partnership.
Hampton Hill Junior School
Hopscotch Consulting
London PermaCulture
NECT – Nakuru Environmental and Conservation Trust
North East Strategic Partnership for Sustainable Schools trustee
Nottingham – Bowbridge Primary
Partnerships for Schools
Project Earth Rock
Raleigh – Head of Schools and Groups
Rayleigh Primary Schools – National Association of Head Teachers
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead
Sainsburys Family Charitable Trust
Sustainable Schools North West
Think Global
University of Cambridge International Examinations