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Big Ideas programme

We need 'Big Ideas' to solve big sustainability issues, and we believe that young people, supported by industry mentors, can create those solutions.

Big Ideas programme

We believe in giving young people a platform to have their voices heard, and in the power of collaboration and mentoring to help them reach their full potential.

We work across the country with nearly 4000 students each year. To date we've reached over 20,000 young people through the programme!

Our Award-winning Big Ideas programme is delivered in partnership with companies based locally, who provide business mentors to support teams to generate 'Big Ideas' to sustainability problems. These ideas are submitted to our Big Ideas Competition, with regional finals held at local universities and the National Final at the Palace of Westminster in London.

Through the programme, students can also work towards achieving a CREST Bronze Award, accredited learning by the British Science Association and which can be used towards UCAS applications. It also enhances employability skills and showcases STEM careers.


Minimum of 60 participants, maximum of 150 participants.


The participation fee is heavily subsidised by business partners which means we are able to offer the full programme for £500. Please contact S4TP if the cost is prohibitive and we can advise on additional funding options.

Dates and Location

We deliver the Big Ideas programme in 4 regional hubs:

• Central Belt Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling
• North England (Newcastle, County Durham, Bradford, Leeds and Halifax)
• Central England (Solihull, Wolverhampton and Birmingham)
• South England (Bristol, Portsmouth, Kent, London)


The programme begins with the Big Ideas Day experience, which is a full school day of student-centred, group activities, facilitated by Solutions for the Planet. After that, the programme continues with the Big Ideas Competition - initial regular development sessions led by teachers and supported by mentors, up until the submission date in March. Submissions are shortlisted and followed by regional finals in May and then the National Final in June.

Learning outcomes

  • Improve engagement, interest or enjoyment in STEM subjects

  • Develop engineering employability skills

  • Improve awareness and aspirations for STEM-related study and careers

  • Challenge stereotypes by showing the diversity of disciplines, people and skills involved in engineering

Subjects and topics

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing
    • Design and Technology
    • Engineering
    • Maths
    • Physics
    • Agriculture and Food
    • Biotechnology
    • Chemical Engineering
    • Design/Art/Fashion
    • Electronics/Robotics/Programming
    • Energy/Environment
    • Entertainment
    • General Engineering
    • Humanitarian Aid
    • Materials/Products/Manufacturing
    • Mechanical Engineering/Systems/Processes
    • Medicine/Healthcare
    • Space/Aerospace Engineering
    • Sport/Fitness
    • Structures/Construction/Civil Engineering
    • Transport

Gatsby benchmarks

The Gatsby benchmarks are a framework for good careers guidance for schools across all of England and in some areas across the rest of the UK. This experience helps your school to reach the following benchmarks:

  • Linking curriculum learning to careers
  • Encounters with employers and employees
  • Encounters with further and higher education

Essential skills

The essential skills every young person needs to succeed in education and their future career. Find out more at the Skills Builder Partnership. This experience builds the following skills:

  • Aiming High - the ability to set clear, tangible goals and devise a robust route to achieving them.

  • Creativity - the use of imagination and the generation of new ideas.

  • Leadership - supporting, encouraging and motivating others to achieve a shared goal.

  • Listening - the ability to listen and understand information.

  • Problem Solving - the ability to find a solution to a complex situation or challenge.

  • Speaking - the oral transmission of information or ideas.

  • Staying Positive - the ability to use tactics to overcome setbacks and achieve goals.

  • Teamwork - working cooperatively with others towards achieving a shared goal.

What the teachers say

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Careers resources