Circular Schools Brighton and Hove

Project description

Students in Brighton & Hove schools attended circular economy workshops which explored a variety of different themes around common waste streams. Where possible, workshops were held outside, linking to the idea there is no waste in nature. The workshops focused on five themes which were:

  • composting
  • food waste
  • clothing and textiles
  • single-use plastics and packaging
  • reusing technology by disassembly

Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT) and local circular economy experts shared their knowledge with more than 200 students and teachers. In the workshops, the students explored waste in detail and presented their projects at the end.


To educate and engage students and teachers across Brighton & Hove on the circular economy, encourage and empower them in reducing consumption and adopting more circular behaviour practices in their daily lives.

Target audience

Children and their teachers from Reception years to Year 13. The project also aimed to engage parents/guardians and the wider school community.

Specific goals

To raise awareness of the circular economy and empower Brighton & Hove residents in taking action to reduce waste in schools, at home, and throughout the community - supporting long term behaviour change. To encourage reflection about nature as the perfect circular system, operating with no waste.


October 2021 to April 2022.


Face-to-face workshops with circular specialists. The final film was sent to local schools to be shown in assemblies. The link to the film was sent to ‘Brighton & Hove Environmental Education’ (BHEE) digital newsletter subscribers. This publication reaches 85 to 90 readers per month.

Brighton & Hove Schools Circular Economy Workshops

Who was involved in this project?

The lead organisation in this project was  Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT) in partnership with Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC).

Organisation contact

[email protected]


  • Brighton & Hove Environmental Education Officer.

    The lead engagement officer for Primary and Secondary Schools in Brighton & Hove. Their focus was on environment, climate and sustainability education, through workshops, strategies and communications.

Other stakeholders involved

  • Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC).
  • Brighton and Hove Food Partnership.
  • Sew Fabulous – environmentally friendly community sewing studio.
  • RubyMoon – local business selling sustainable swimwear and activewear.
  • TechTakeback and Revaluit – local circular technology companies.
  • Local schools (Cottesmore St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Balfour Primary School, St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary School, Down’s View Link College, Cardinal Newman Catholic School.

Where was the project piloted and why?

Five Brighton & Hove schools including primary, secondary schools and college level, local greenspaces and community sites. Funding was allocated to Brighton & Hove City Council. BHCC has an existing funded programme called Brighton & Hove Environmental Education which delivers environmental and sustainability learning and action in schools so was an obvious opportunity for using for implementing the BP circular schools pilot.

Why was the project created?

Why we did the project

BHCC was developing a ‘schools climate and environmental education strategy’. The strategy detailled the ‘whole school’ approach to climate learning and action. This built upon the existing schools environmental education programme. BHCC is working with headteachers and school leaders in implementing the strategy through strong leadership embedding sustainability, climate and circular learning across the whole curriculum and action and behaviour change across the whole school and throughout the whole school community. More targeted learning and resources further supported students and teachers.

The ‘BLUEPRINT circular schools project’ was an opportunity to:

  • develop circular economy teaching resources
  • inspire practical action and steer behaviour change as part of the environmental education programme
  • help promote ‘circular thinking’ and learning around common materials within the classroom, school and at home

Subject matter experts taught circular economy challenges and opportunities around a range of material to the classes.

Expected value to the circular economy

The project encouraged and inspired circular behaviour change around materials resources and specifically around the five material streams/themes (as above). It gave young people an understanding of their role but also how this could lead to behaviour change. The video shared these behaviours with other schools and the wider school community.

How was the project implemented?

  • Background research – local experts and greenspaces.
  • Regular meeting between BHCC and the delivery partner to plan approach.
  • Identify and engage with local circular experts and venues and secure their commitment.
  • Scope target audience.
  • Identify targets and monitoring systems.
  • Define processes.
  • Develop programme, timeline and schedule for delivery.
  • Source equipment and materials.
  • Create webpages and promotional materials.
  • Workshop delivery.
  • Follow-up communication with schools on changes made as a result of the workshop.

Cost and staff resource

  • £10,000 – 1 member of staff working approx.
  • 0.4 FTE.
  • Coordination.
  • Expert costs.
  • Volunteers costs (filming).
  • Film making.


  • SWT approval through Project Governance.
  • SWT GDPR policy followed to protect school information and contacts.
  • Parental consent gained to use images.
  • Delivery staff were DBS checked.


The pilot project involved both outdoor learning and learning in the relevant location, with impacts assessed on pupil’s attitudes, knowledge and reported behaviours from the workshops, using a hand raising activity.

Due to time constraints, this was followed up with a questionnaire.


Theme 1: Composting at Cottesmore School.

30 Year 1 pupils took part in a half-day workshop to understand what composting is and how it is useful. They then created their own compost and compostable pots.

The school is now collecting food waste from the kitchen and the playground.   Children have said they will start composting at home.

Theme 2: Reducing food waste at St Mary Magdalen’s Primary School – delivered by Brighton and Hove Food Partnership (BHFP)

25 Year 5 pupils visited the BHFP Community Kitchen. They also found out about portion sizes and how food breaks down into compost. Then how this compost can be used to grow more food.

The children learnt how to cook simple meals using surplus stock and how to prevent wasting food.

Theme 3: Clothing and Textiles at Cardinal Newman School – delivered by Sew Fabulous

30 Year 9 pupils visited the Open Market in Brighton, the home of Sew Fabulous Community Sewing. The children learnt about the impact of fast fashion. How to make accessories out of repurposed material and how natural dyes can be used to tie-dye cotton.

The children learnt how to repurpose and repair clothes. The school is planning to hold clothes swap events

Theme 4: Single-use plastics and packaging at Balfour Primary School – delivered by Claire Potter Design

120 Year 6 pupils learned about plastic, where it comes from, how long it lasts and the problems it can create. They then identified solutions for their homes and school.

As a direct result of the workshop, the children were more active in litter picking. They campaigned to ban single use plastic snack wrappers. The children have gained a better understanding of micro plastics and were keen to reduce the fleece content in school uniforms.

Theme 5: Re-using technology by disassembly at Downs View Link College – delivered by TechTakeback and RevaluIT

8 students with learning disabilities visited RevaluIT in Brighton. They learned how technology is recycled by taking apart old laptops. The students learned how metals can be used again. They also visited Waste House, the first in the world to be made entirely of waste.

As a result of the workshop, Down View Link College liaised with the Tech-Takeback scheme to arrange placements for their older students as detailed in their school newsletter.

Lessons learnt

The strengths of the pilot have been:

  • schools rated the workshops an average of 4.8/5, with many positive comments received
  • four out of five schools have taken action on the CE as a direct result of the workshops delivered

The weaknesses of the pilot have been:

  • monitoring and evaluation: Obtaining hand-raising results from teachers post-workshop
  • scheduling: Finding suitable dates with schools and workshop providers took longer than planned

How we could further improve and remove barriers:

  • COVID-19 restrictions prevented workshops from being delivered on time. One school struggled with re-booking due to frequent outbreaks
  • obtain clear agreement and expectation from the school in advance that they would develop action in their school as a result of the workshop and report back


  • COVID-19 outbreaks held up operations and restricted the timeframe.
  • School schedule incorporating content into classroom, due to many priorities within school settings.