South Yorkshire Schools' Climate Conference 2023

Our third annual conference took place on 2 March 2023 at Victoria Hall, Sheffield. We were delighted to welcome pupils, teachers and headteachers from 13 primary and seven secondary schools from all four regions of South Yorkshire. Many travelled by public transport and pupils brought with them clothes for the clothes swap and their entries for our competition.

In the morning keynote address Richard Souter (SCESY) welcomed pupils and teachers to the conference. He was followed by Juanita Shepherd (sustainability and Climate Change Policy Lead from the DfE) who spoke about the National Education Nature Park and the Climate Action Award scheme.

Pupils then thoroughly enjoyed a variety of different workshops run by enthusiastic session leaders. In the afternoon South Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard answered challenging questions from students such as "What are you personally doing to reduce your carbon footprint?" and "How are you working to help promote green skills and jobs in our region?" Hafiz Anwar Zahidy told of the dreadful impact of the Pakistan last year. Yorkshire Water spoke about Water Aid.

A huge thank you to all teachers who gave up their time to enable their students to attend the conference. We really hope that this conference will encourage and kick start action in South Yorkshire schools.

2023 Conference Timetable

'Action for the Future'

Engage, exemplify, encourage and enable.











Registration and introductory activities

Opening remarks - Richard Souter (SCESY)

The DfE Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy - Juanita Shepherd (DfE Policy Lead)

Session 1 workshops


Session 2 workshops

Lunch/exhibitions/networking. A chance to view competiton entries and view stalls of the workshops.

Session 3 workshops

Closing Keynotes:

  • Questions to the Mayor of South Yorkshire - Oliver Coppard
  • The floods in Pakistan - Hafiz Anwaar Zahidy
  • Heartwood - Greenhill Primary School
  • Water Aid - Yorkshire Water 

Where do we go from here? Individual school discussions

Conference close

Workshop sessions

Sustainability in the school and community - Clive Belgeonne, DESCY

School Energy Efficiency - James Veness, Energy Sparks

Sustainable Food - Zoe Hunter, Food Works

Sustainable Fashion - Jess Dwson, Common Thread

Sustainability in the home - Steve Platt & Ghazal Ahmad Mear, Hope Vally Climate Action

Connecting with Nature - Christopher Smith, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust

Well-being - Dr Rachael Alexander, Climate Psychology Alliance & Rafia Hussain, A-Level Psychology teacher at All Saints School

Paul Blomfeld MP & Abtisam Mohamed - Q&A chaired by Lindy Stone

Closing Keynote Speakers

Oliver Coppard

Addressing a packed hall of school students and their teachers, South
Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard answered some challenging questions from
students, such as 'What are you personally doing to reduce your carbon
footprint?' to 'How are you working to help promote green skills and
jobs in our region?' The Mayor was able to explain some of the measures
SYMCA are putting in place to encourage Sustainable and Active travel.
The session was popular with the pupils and it was fantastic that they
could meet a public figure prepared to hear what young people have to

Oliver Coppard, mayor of SY
Anwar Zahidy at Schools' Climate Education South Yorkshire Annual Conference at Victoria Hall in Sheffield

Anwar Zahidy

Another worrying aspect of Climate Change, the catastrophic floods in Pakistan last year left millions without homes and having to rebuild their lives. Anwar Zahidy's talk clearly had a big impact on pupils. They were very moved by his real life account of the experience of members of his family during the floods. We thank him for giving his time and sharing his story.

Climate Anxiety talk by Dr Rachael Alexander.

Dr Rachael Alexander from SCESY is a Psychologist and member of the Climate Psychology Alliance. Her talk will focus on climate psychology, particularly how children feel when learning about the crisis as well as how adults can respond and support children with feelings and concerns they might raise. The details can be found here.

Sustainability in the School and Community Clive Belgeonne (DECSY) and Thom Winterbotham (Learn Sheffield/Malin Bridge Primary)

This workshop will look at how the school and their community can play a part in tackling the climate and nature emergencies. It will look at understanding some of the key issues, how the school is impacting on them and what the key actions are for making a positive difference. Each school will come up with the beginnings of an action plan for change and have the opportunity to share their starting points with others and get ideas for where they can get support or work together.

The climate emergency programme has been developed with partners to support settings to address the climate and ecological emergencies. This includes the development of CPD for teachers and leaders to support them in identifying an engaging with a whole school climate programme. Please visit Training & Resources section for more details


Our expertise provides bespoke information to each school to help them understand how they use their energy and how through behaviour change, improved control and appropriate technology will lead to its more efficient use.

Provide bespoke workshops with schools to enable students to explore energy and interrelated sustainability concepts. Without this understanding the changes above will not be fully realised.

We are a social enterprise, established in 2015 to raise awareness of and reduce the scandal of food waste. We've grown to save over 500 tonnes of food per year and now work on building a fair and sustainable food system for everyone in Sheffield.

We do this through our Kitchen where we upcycle food, Market where we made food available to all and Farm where we grow our own food locally.

We work with 100s of committed volunteers whose time, passion and skill drive our ability to feed thousands of people each month.

The School Climate Challenge was organised by Ghazala Ahmad-Mear from Tideswell and Steve Platt from Hathersage. It ran with over 300 9-12 year-old children at all ten primary schools and the secondary school in Hope Valley. The Challenge got the children talking about climate change with their teachers and friends, and at home with their parents. They changed the way they travelled to school, they ate less meat and more plant based foods, they thought more about what they bought, they consumed less and they valued nature more. They wrote to their local MP demanding a change in government policy. Children became ambassadors, persuading and cajoling their families to take action on climate change.

Later we returned to the schools to see how they had got on with their pledges and how they had fared talking to their parents. Almost without exception the children had been able to involve the whole family in thinking about the climate emergency and in taking action. With the teacher’s help, the children filled in a tally itemising all the things their family was doing. The challenge showed that children are keen to do something about climate change and are able to mobilise their families to take action. 

Thanks to our funders, we are making a Teachers’ Pack freely available for non-commercial use by schools, and community climate action groups.  This contains all the material you need to run the Challenge in your own school or group.  

The outdoor learning team provide a wide range of unique, fun educational activities to fit with the curriculum for all ages.

Whether it is a school trip to one of our local nature reserves, incredible outdoor class activities at one of our partner sites (such as Ecclesall Woods, Our Cow Molly and Stoneface Creative) or based in your own school, we have the perfect educational visits and experiences to suit your needs and budget.

The importance of Water - at the conference the speaker will be addressing the issues around water scarcity and water usage and talking about the work of the charity Water Aid that they support.

Common Thread is a project born in 2010 out of a passion for crafts and up-cycling. Currently they run social exchanges of clothing, repair workshops and playful up-cycling activities. For the conference, Jess Dawson and her team will be demonstrating how to organise a clothes swap, discussing how fashion can have an impact on the planet and encouraging those attending to think about their future purchasing choices

Climate Psychology Alliance

Making sense of climate feelings

With Rachael Alexander and Rafia Hussain 

Juanita Shepherd is a policy lead for the Nature Park and Climate Action Award scheme for the Sustainability and Climate Change Unit in DfE. The team was set up in April 2021, and the launch of the Department’s strategy in April of this year.
This work aims to engage children, young people and their educators with nature, supporting young people in England to play a driving role in mapping and monitoring biodiversity on their grounds using citizen science and, critically, taking action to enhance it.  It will also provide opportunities for young people to take part in community science, identifying local impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss and developing key skills to solve these problems. 
Furthermore, the award scheme will recognise the brilliant work being undertaken in schools and colleges to protect green spaces and promote biodiversity. It will support teachers to develop their pupils’ skills and knowledge in biodiversity and sustainability further and celebrate their achievements.

Join our South Yorkshire schools' climate network

We're creating a network of schools seeking to include climate education in their curriculum and reduce their school's impact on the environment. The network will give schools the opportunity to learn from each other as they continue on their climate education/carbon reduction journey. By signing up you agree to receive emails from us and be part of this network in South Yorkshire. The network will also be able to gain from the experience of other school based eco-networks around the country.

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