Meeting at Green Academy in Aarhus

The partners of PROGRESS met each other on November 15th for the fourth transnational project meeting at the Green Acadamy in Aarhus. The central theme of this meeting: What is needed to implement sustainability and the SDG’s in our curriculum and didactics to attract more and different kinds of students? In this post a summary of all parts of the program. Some of these will also be posted in more detail as Good Practices in separate posts. See the Good practices.

Program November 15, 2022

Danish Educational System

We start the first meeting day with a welcome and presentation of the Danish educational system. Primary school and lower secondary education is mandatory (class 0 – 9, from the age of four). Then pupils have to choose for general upper secondary education, technical and commercial upper secondary education or VET. VET uses the sandwich model: 1/3 theory and 2/3 practice. The amount of students choosing VET is declining. Only 20% of the pupils choose for VET so this is a huge problem for now and the future considering the labour market.

Vision and curriculum of Green Academy

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important part of Green Academy’s vision, strategy and activities. They provide education in horticulture, landscaping and agriculture. This is presented and discussed and demonstrated during our tour around the campus, executed by fluently English speaking, very enthusiastic and well informed students and teachers. They are obviously very proud of their school.

Some teachers show us their curriculum and stress the fact that these need to be adapted to the demands of a changing world and changed students, who are more critical than they used to be. The Danish ministry of education is responsible for the curricula, the frame work and the end terms. Changing this in time takes a lot effort and often difficult.

The main problems Green Academy has to face is getting enough qualified teachers and keeping the skills of the teachers up to date.

Gartenieret Pederson

We end today’s program with a visit to a primula (and other plants) nursery: Gartneriet Pedersen. The owner is constantly searching for new ways to run the nursery with sustainable solutions. His company is already very sustainable, circular, it uses less water (because of re-using it) and heating and less and less pesticides. An example for all nurseries. The company offers an internship to 4 to 5 students from Green Academy every year. A perfect place to learn about sustainability.

In the evening we enjoy a typical Danish diner.

Program November 16, 2022

After an early breakfast in the school canteen we leave on the second day to go to the agricultural department of Green Academy

Marina Stannov from the municipality, department of Children and Youth, tells about the assignment she has: make sure that more young people choose vocational education. The points she made:

  • Framework matters (national regulation, city council decisions et…).
  • Framing matters (what/whose problem we are trying to solve).
  • Local initiatives/local collaboration can make a positive difference.
  • Previous initiatives haven’t proved sustainable in the long run–but present initiatives can build on their foundations/activities.

Aarhus municipality goals and projects

She cooperates with Green Academy on this. There are 65.000 children in the municipality and 10.000 employees. The municipality translates the legal framework and national goals into understandable language and tangible goals. There is now a more integrated approach to the problem: government and schools work together through co-creation. Teaching with an outlook to working life, authentic learning by bringing in authentic problems, meaningful learning. Career orientation and guidance should start earlier, not in the last class of primary school. Pupils need to find out where their interests lie. Make it clear where the subjects, they are taught at in school, are needed in the professions, in real life. Open the world for the children; no pushing but showing. Stop talking about VET as a solution to a problem. Later this day we visit the skills, the career experience, organised by the municipality and the schools.

Nature School and Summer camps

Green Academy has his own Nature school (Naturskolen). At Naturskolen they move teaching from the blackboard to reality. They use the natural world around us to work with concrete learning and skills goals in subjects such as maths, biology and social studies, and the framework lends itself well to innovation and collaboration projects. Activities from pre-school to master classes. Children learn about life on a farm, what cows eat, how much water is needed to produce milk, how manure smells and feels, how calves feel. They also learn about another way of feeding: mealworms. How do they look like? How do they feel? How do they taste? How much water do they need before they can be eaten? They learn to see this in relation to the SDGs: pictures with the 17 SDG goals are hanging everywhere in school, clearly visible and relationships are established between the production of food and what that costs the earth (natural resources). Show younger children the real world and let them learn with all senses active.

The Summer camp for children of 12 – 16 years old takes place at the school farm. Sustainability is leading in all subjects on food production; from farm to mouth; climate food printing; importance of seasonal als local food and protein production and climate issues.

Skills competition

After lunch we visit the Skills competition in Aarhus. What an event! Thousands of children, aged about 13 years old, watch the finales of the skills. The competitors need to work with eggs, with wood, with a cutting machine to get the assignments done. Time and execution are leading to get a high ranking which means a starting permit for the National Skills. Exciting!

Wrapp up

The partner meeting is ended as usual with an evaluation of the meeting and the collection of recommendations: what did you learn, what can you use in your own school? It was a very well organised and fruitful meeting. Thank Lotte Skjærbæk and Michael Sejer and all your collegaes!

Countries Curriculum & Program Good Practices The Netherlands

Field beans Terra project

The field bean is an old crop that is currently very popular with growers in the province of Groningen. However, it is not widely used for human consumption, although it is possible. Terra’s students got to work on it. The beans are grown at the Suikerterrein in Groningen, among other places, which is also a learning environment for Terra students. They were right on top when the beans were harvested and dried.

Sustainable crop

The field bean has many advantages. They contain a large amount (more than 27%) vegetable proteins. And the field beans retain the nitrogen in the roots, so it does not end up in the soil. The cultivation of the field beans improves the soil and biodiversity.

Protein transition

If people eat more broad beans, they get vegetable proteins and they no longer need to get their proteins from animal products. This means fewer animals are needed and CO2 emissions will be reduced.


Many field beans are still used for livestock farming. That is a shame, because many of these beans can also be used for human food. The students were commissioned by the Toentje Foundation to make a tasty end product. This ensured that the products end up at the Food Bank.

The result: a gluten-free pasta, pizza base and a dipping sauce. The students took a good look at the different target groups for the products, these are very suitable for use!

Cooperating parties:

  • Toetje Foundation
  • The food bank
  • Terra Groningen

With the flour of the field bean you can make surprisingly tasty products. The Terra students discovered this during their very first project assignment. The problem for which a solution was sought was an issue surrounding the field bean. What can you make from the field bean, pure or grinded? The students were given five weeks to think about it, make a prototype and design a packaging with a flyer. In good spirits, three groups of students set to work with the ‘Design-Thinking’ method. Some products turned out not to be the right choice and students simply started experimenting again. Ultimately, a prototype field base (pizza), a dipping sauce and a pasta were developed and presented to client Jos Meijer van Toentje, the social vegetable garden in the city of Groningen. But of course much more can be made from field beans and field bean flour. Students submitted their solutions for the Impact Prize of Groenpact. They were all nominated! And on March 4, 2021, the redeeming answer finally came. The students won the 1st prize, a cash prize of € 2500.00. Together with the students, we devise a good destination for this amount of money. They are thinking about improving the prototypes and scaling up the products.

We have now grinded more than 300 kilos of field bean flour and students pack this in sealable bags, make a label and a logo. They are now trying to sell the flour during an alternative internship. Not all students have been able to find a good internship, which is why we came up with this project. All courses are reflected in the project. Students go through the various work processes with an external supervisor.

First of all, the students have now gained experience in promoting their product in Ekoplaza Drachten. There the students were given a presentation table to present the flour. “It went like a train, customers were very enthusiastic,” says Elina, who was working in the Ekoplaza. Now the next step is looking for more companies to get sales done. If successful, the students can educate farmers so that they start thinking about growing differently.

The students also came up with various recipes and put this into a recipe booklet. This link will take you to their online recipe booklet.

This way of entrepreneurial education is typical for Terra. Collaborate with the real, working world. Receive assignments from entrepreneurs and governments who develop the students in project groups. The themes vary according to the field of study. Field beans project was an assignment for the students of the Food, Life & Innovation program.

This way of entrepreneurial education is typical for Terra. Entrepreneurs and governments provide assignments or issues to the students, which they then carry out in project groups. The students must link each project, each assignment, to one or more SDG goals. A very good way to raise awareness among students and teachers. The themes vary according to the field of study. Field beans project was an assignment for the students of the Food, Life & Innovation program.

Further information

Building & Business operations Curriculum & Program

Terra contributes to nature recovery, SDG 15, with…. a hive

Since two weeks, Terra VET school in Meppel inthe Netherlands, is the proud owner of a hive. Colleague Klaas has placed the basket on the school grounds with different intentions. Firstly, he thinks about contributing to SDG 15. In addition, he is a real teacher: you teach students (and colleagues!) about the life of the bee, its usefulness and necessity. A third reason is that honey is of course a particularly fine and tasty product…

SDG 15 is about protecting, restoring and sustainable management of life on land in all its forms. Protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity can strengthen resilience against increasing population pressure, intensification of land use and climate change.

Building & Business operations

Living garden Terra

What is a living garden? 

A living garden is a garden with more functions than a standard garden, with terrace, lawn and border. A living garden means that there are many plants and flowers that attract insects. One creates more biodiversity with a living garden. It is also good for people: it is a resting place, a meeting place, a place to enjoy the greenery. Also bird houses scan be found. 

The garden has been designed and created by Terra students Sander Bijman, Axel Hulleman, Niels Schriel and Gerben Zantingh in the context of SDG Goal 15: 

  • Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat and reverse desertification and land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. 
  • Take urgent and decisive action to limit the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent endangered species. 
Marketing & Communication

Graduation flags as free advertising

At Yuverta in The Netherlands it is a custom that our graduates are given a flag of Yuverta to show off that they have graduated.Of course our flags are made of reclycled materials and they have to bring it back. Unfortunately they often end up in the attic or worse, in the garbage bin.

The school in Nederweert had the genius idea to ask for a deposit. Dutch people are very used to pay a deposit for e.g. plastic bottles at a supermarket, but to pay a deposit when you are given a graduation flag is completely new. But it worked! 95% of the graduates brought their flag back, only 3 flags are missing. This means that we do not have to produce new flags for next years graduates. Very sustainable and a fun example to communicate in order to show that sustainability is important to us.

Professional Development

Sustainability at everyone’s calendar at Yuverta

At Yuverta in The Netherlands Sustainability is one of the core values. We have written a policy with goals we want to achieve within a few years. One of our board members is responsible for achieving these goals. We also have a few dedicated colleagues to work on sustainability projects, to communicate internally and to find and collect sustainable ambassadors within Yuverta. They have developed a very nice idea, which is easy to copy to your organisation!

At our intranet our sustainability collegues have their own pages to inform and inspire others. They have made a sustainability calendar for every month of this year. Every month has a theme, which has a connection with one of the adopted SDG’s.

E.g. the theme of September is zero waste. This month they share tips, they share educational materials for our teachers and they challenge their collegues to change their habits towards sustainability. For example this month: don’t use paper cups, but use a mug or a glass.

They organise a ‘GreenTalk’ every month with one of our collegues. A 2 minute talk (video) about the sustainable impact he or she makes. It is very nice to hear collegues talk about their way of living, their passion for educating others on sustainability, and simply share their knowledge with others. You can find them on YouTube. Youtube offers the possibility to change the language of the subtitles (in screen you find a gear wheel).

This is a print screen of our intranet pages on sustainability with many news items and information about our sustainability strategy. On the right you can see blue tiles on several subjects. Links to our own sustainable calendar, SDG Netherlands, a Dutch initiative which is called Together for Biodiversity, a nature organisation, and several websites where you can find educational materials and projects.

Sophie van Kasteren – Yuverta – The Netherlands

Countries Curriculum & Program The Netherlands

Anchoring Social Circular Economy Attitudes in VET (SCE-VET)

Educational institutions at all levels must take an active role in raising social awareness about the effects of climate change and the need to implement actions aimed at redirecting the trend of environmental deterioration because of the various actions of humans.

SCE-VET has an innovative approach for promoting a change of attitude and to favor the incorporation of measures and actions of CE, environmental sustainability and social responsibility among the target groups and stakeholders. There is a link between products and social issues.

The most relevant horizontal or sectoral priority is the environment and fight against climate change.

And additional priorities are :

  • Adapting vocational education and training to labour market needs;
  • Contributing to innovation in vocational education and training.

The concept of SCE is linking the principles of the CE with social enterprises, giving the right conditions to foster innovation and creativity, for a society with solutions to meet societal, environmental and economic needs.

Are you interested? Please download the presentation of SCE-VET.

Countries Marketing & Communication The Netherlands

It doesn’ t have to be that complicated….

In mid-March we, Minke Schepers, Marketing and Communications department of Terra, and Evelien Kist, paid a visit to the province of North Holland for a meeting with a director of a pre-vocational secondary school of the Vonk College. I came to the address because of the excellent network EUROPEA, both at home and abroad. I had plotted the demand for successful training/growing educational institutions and a few colleagues responded. This was number 1 on the list and all the way in North Holland!

This school in Purmerend is a Pre-VET school with “green” practical subjects”. In the practical lessons they work with plants, animals, flowers, food, nature & environment and indoor and outdoor styling. Of course, information science, technology & technology and green entrepreneurship are also part of the practical program. In the whole of Europe (Weidevenne), the Vonk College Purmerend has a “green shop” where students can do an internship in a real business environment. A visit to the flower and plant auction in Aalsmeer and a green wholesaler are also part of this. Their motto is therefore: “Green: the basis for a colourful future”.

The school offers high-quality education from a professional organization, in which pupils and students are challenged to get the best out of themselves and does this by making the (learning) conditions as optimal as possible. The Vonk College is the first to reach employees, students, parents and the business community thought when it comes to good education because it:

• offers a safe and stimulating learning environment;

• challenges everyone to get the best out of themselves;

• cooperates with parents, the business community and other stakeholders in the region;

• is a professional organization with a modern personnel policy, and

• is characterized by transparency, responsibility and quality awareness.

The core values ​​of the Vonk College are involvement, quality and fun.

It was a real pleasure to talk to the director, Mr Kees Schilder. He told about ‘his’ school with enormous enthusiasm and warmth. About the difficult years at first and then the enormous growth that was almost impossible to keep up with. But where does such growth come from?

What is striking, is that the school makes little or no advertising. No Marketing and Communications department, no expensive advertising agencies. No, the advertising is provided completely free of charge by the students and their parents.

The school delivers quality. Much attention is paid to the individual student. So that works! A student who feels seen is comfortable in his own skin and in this way contributes to a pleasant atmosphere. And, very important, it advertises the school spontaneously and selflessly.

The school in Purmerend touches some of the 17 sustainable development goals: 4. quality education and 3. good health and well-being but it is not something the school is consciously concerned with. When you ask about sustainability, you actually end up with the relationship with the immediate neighbors.

What PROGRESS can use as Good Practice is actually nothing more or less than ensuring that you are known as a school that provides constant, high-quality education. Sustainability then actually lies in the continued existence of the school with sustainable relationships with the outside world. The other SDG goals come into play when everyone is aware of their necessity. How ‘simple’ can it be!

Building & Business operations Countries The Netherlands

Terra is going to collect circular waste

Terra stands for a clean and sustainable living environment. We are therefore working towards a new way of waste collection that is in line with our green identity: smarter and cleaner collection: waste separation starting from school year 2022-2023.

In a circular economy there is no waste and products and raw materials are reused over and over again. The waste is the new raw material. That is why, in addition to paper, we are now also going to separate PMD (plastic packaging, metal cans and drink cartons), residual waste and Swill (organic waste) at our schools. In order to be able to collect this waste separately, different bins are needed to collect the different types of waste. We get so-called environmental streets for this. These are several garbage bins next to each other for the various types of waste. The recycling centers are placed at strategic places in the school. This means that all current waste bins will disappear.

A ‘waste team’ is formed per location to supervise the implementation of waste collection. With the pay-off ‘From mess to beautiful, can you help?’ we want to encourage everyone in the school to separate waste as well as possible, so that it can be used as a new raw material. In this way we can really make a difference together.

Countries Curriculum & Program Finland

Practical training at Savonia

Students from Savonia university has to do practical training at a farm or company for 90 days during the summer period after their first year studies. The content of placement: 1/3 crop production work, 1/3 animal husbandry work and 1/3 other work (for example forestry work, agricultural fair‐ visit, painting, fence repair)

The following requirements are imposed on the farm or company

  • Production should be large enough and developing;
  • There should be versatile work available;
  • Work safety and health should be in order;
  • Supervisor of the training should have agricultural; education and interest to teach and guide the trainee;
  • The farm should support learning and social development!
  • Salary/payment for student?

The application of companies/farms include:

  • Contact information;
  • Production, arable land, plant production, forestry;
  • Information about livestock, machinery, buildings, use of contractor;
  • Education, guidance, accommodation and meals, what kind of work available;
  • After improvement a contract is signed between Savonia and the farm/company for one or several years;
  • Placements are registered

The agreement between student and company includes:

  • Name of the company, name of the trainee;
  • What kind of work the trainee will do (plant production, livestock, other work, workload;
  • Accommodation, meals, payment, working period and working days);
  • The farmers commitment of guidance and give the information for the written tasks of training.

Preparation of Student’s placement

  • Second year students will present their placement experiences to the first‐year students;
  • They check the list of the companies;
  • Can go for pre‐training period to the farm (1‐2 weeks);
  • Have a short conversation with their teacher /supervisor about the placement and personal aims of their practical training;
  • Evaluation if the farm or company is suitable for their aims;
  • Make their own targets of the placement;
  • Write a CV and a motivation letter to the farm/company;
  • Contact and visit the farm /company;
  • Take part in preparation lessons about work/ labor legislation, work safety, protection against animal diseases and instructions for the written tasks of training.

Preparation of company of the placement

Information to the farms/companies will be sent by email before placement, and its content is:

  • Curriculum of the education;
  • Content and the purpose of the placement;
  • Labor legislation;
  • Assessment: include criteria, certificate to be full filled contract of employment to be full filled;
  • The length of placement is 90 working days (8 hours/day) during 5 months period (May‐ September);
  • The content of placement: 1/3 crop production work, 1/3 animal husbandry work and 1/3 other work (for example forestry work, agricultural fair‐ visit, painting, fence repair).

Responsibilities during the placement

After placement

  • Student finalizes written tasks in Moodle
  • Give feedback about the placement
  • Introduce his/her experiences, learning and the farm
  • company in seminar for the first‐year student

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