Education Partnership North East (EPNE) has committed to playing its part in the UN’s agenda for sustainable development which promotes the importance of education, health, social protection and job opportunities, whilst tackling climate change and environmental protection.

The Group, which includes Sunderland College, Northumberland College, and Hartlepool Sixth Form College, committed to leading through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)in 2022. Since, governors, college leaders and staff have been quietly accelerating the colleges impact across these 17 goals and the majority of college operations.

The SDG’s are a core part of the UN’s ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ and set out targets to tackle poverty, protect the planet and promote prosperity.

As a regional group of Further Education colleges, EPNE sits at the heart of diverse urban and rural communities and as an anchor institution, it plays a significant role in supporting people, place and productivity. Advocating for economic growth and social policy, it wasn’t hard for college leaders to buy into the SDGs as they have a direct correlation with the strategic value, work and impact of the college group.

The college group has now mapped its operations across all 17 SDGs and as an outcome is able to see its progress evolving over time.

This progress includes the provision of financial support to 12,000+ students over the last five years to meet the ‘No Poverty’ goal. The ‘Zero Hunger’ goal has been supported through the provision of over 49,000 meals to students in need during the pandemic.

Further examples include reducing energy use by saving over 44 tonnes of CO2 (the work of 2,245 trees growing for 1 year) – covering the ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ goal.

In addition, 100% of food and oil waste has been converted into renewable energy, biofuels, and fertiliser – meeting both the ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ and ‘Climate Action’ Goals.

By committing to these 17 goals, EPNE is proudly able to share what has already been achieved by staff and students, while also providing a platform to lead from the front to drive positive change and support the UK and UNs agenda for sustainable development.

Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of EPNE said: “When it comes to economic growth and social mobility, all government parties recognise the significant role further education colleges play, now and into the future. For EPNE, the SDGs help to frame the vital work we do, and our breadth, capacity and capability means we can do so much more. Our announcement today is only the start of our SDG journey”.

James Stuart, Chair of Governors at EPNE said: “We are at a point where employers and a wider society have decision makers that can influence, and as a college group, we have a fantastic ‘cross cutting’ role that we can use drive that change.

“Looking through the lens of those 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, it helps us to not just go after the obvious, but to also showcase and then go after other bits that drive no less a contribution to our community and the society we are part of.”

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19