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The Big Ideas Programme

A STEM and enterprise programme focused on sustainability and youth empowerment - over 30,000 students nationwide have benefitted so far!

The Big Ideas Programme

The challenges faced by today’s younger generations can feel overwhelming: a climate in crisis, important developmental experiences missed due to the pandemic, and an unstable jobs market. Big challenges need Big Ideas - and that’s exactly where this programme comes in. Solutions for the Planet believe in the power of young people to face these challenges head on, and aim to give young people the tools they need in order to succeed.

The Big Ideas Programme is a national STEM and enterprise programme focused on finding creative solutions to sustainability issues. The programme is aimed at 11-14 year-olds and is delivered in partnership with Solutions for the Planet's network of business partners, whose employees mentor teams of young people in schools local to them to develop creative solutions (or ‘Big Ideas’) to the sustainability issues that young people themselves care deeply about. These Big Ideas are submitted into the Big Ideas Competition, with Regional Finals held at local universities, and the National Final at the Palace of Westminster in London.

The Big Ideas Programme aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Skills Builder Framework (with Impact Level 3 accreditation), the UK Government’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy (April 2022), and the Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance to promote sustainability, STEM careers, and essential skills. Students who present at a Regional Final also receive a CREST Bronze Award.


Solutions for the Planet work with 4000 students a year nationwide. They work with 60-150 students on a single Big Ideas Day (teachers can also contact them for larger group sizes).


The participation fee is heavily subsidised by the provider's business partners which means they are able to offer the full programme for £500. This includes: taking 60-150 students on the journey from Big Ideas Day, potentially all the way to the National Final in 2024.


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 and fashion
    • Electronics, robotics and programming
    • Energy and environment
    • General engineering
    • Humanitarian aid
    • Materials, products and manufacturing
    • Mechanical engineering, systems and processes
    • Medicine and healthcare
    • Space and aerospace engineering
    • Sport and fitness
    • Structures, construction and 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:

  • Addressing the needs of each pupil
  • 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

We would love to read all about your time with this experience!

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Careers resources