Concept and aims
Platform is a rail education scheme that invests in future generations and raises climate awareness, developed collaboratively between Severnside, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Transwilts Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs).
The partnerships had a shared vision of developing an education offer across their areas that would successfully support schools in their engagement with the rail industry. They had a collective goal of creating a team who could deliver in-school workshops, encourage schools to use the railway, and create bespoke, rail-related resources that linked to the curriculum.
To build a business case and secure funding, education consultants Sustainable Hive were commissioned to undertake a feasibility study, embedding specialist sustainable education insights throughout. This identified key findings and recommendations including using professional teachers with the required understanding of the educational environment, building bespoke and distinctly local resources, and providing geographical context promoting sustainable, healthy travel linked to the PSHE curriculum.
Funding for an 18-month pilot was secured via the Community Rail Development Fund, Great Western Railway, and CrossCountry. Before school-based delivery began in April 2022, the delivery team created 26 bespoke lessons meeting at least one sustainable development goal. They included:
- “Wet Wet Worcester”: Exploring the role of human and physical geography in contributing to the rising problem of flooding in the area;
- “Action Stations”: Calling on young activists to tackle the climate crisis, exploring both mitigation and adaptation;
- “What’s So Great About Accrington”: Learning about the sustainable features that can be included in stations to make them more environmentally friendly and mitigate against climate change.
The Platform team contacted more than 200 schools within walking distance of stations, presented at network meetings, and offered CPD sessions for teachers. They liaised with local authorities in all seven of the counties covered by the scheme, and forged partnerships with other education providers.
Since launching the scheme in April 2022, the Platform team have delivered rail education to over 4,400 young people, and taken over 1,750 of them on train trips. The project website has had more than 2,900 unique users with 590 lessons downloaded. Teacher feedback has also been extremely positive, with 98% stating children from their schools had benefitted from their involvement in the programme.
After what was described as “outstanding” enthusiasm and uptake from schools, the project was extended to incorporate local authority Holiday and Food Programme schemes, with bookings at capacity in summer 2022.
The collaborative approach has since fostered several new joint CRP projects, and all partners are committed to continuing and building the scheme, promoting sustainable and healthy behaviours among young people by engaging them in accessible, interactive, and meaningful ways.
You can find more about Platform here.