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Lord Mayor’s Coffee Colloquy: Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education How can we educate for a sustainable future?

At this Colloquy, organised by the Air Cadets, ten speakers challenged what we teach and how we teach it and used their own experience to provide inspiration for anyone involved in educating the next generation for a sustainable future.  They covered education inside and outside the classroom, and how technology and philanthropy can make education accessible to all.

There are about 46,640 Air Cadets and it was very encouraging to hear how they and their leaders are committed to and contributing to sustainability in education.  There were strong messages on:

  • Social mobility
  • Employability
  • Youth development
  • Leadership and collaboration

As well as a focus on STEM subjects we heard about the importance of community engagement and sustainability thinking.  Of the 4.7 million children in primary schools there is a strong need to address their mental health.  £635million is spent on the mental health and wellbeing of children. In parts of the country we have second and third generations out of work. 16 milllion adults have savings of less than £100.

We heard how learning can be combined with gaming, raising financial awareness and understanding.  It was noted in the margins of the meeting that the importance and future of education is not featuring on the political agenda yet is the building block of future generations. Rather it has become a political football with many claiming to know more about education than the professionals including the teachers.  Too many are seeing education as a way to improve finances rather than improve young people.

It was a very interesting morning with grounds for optimism in the sustainable education of our young people.  It was also depressing as we have heard many of these ideas about a holistic education before yet we still seem to judge everything on exam grades, judged in an hour or two of exams.

The Chair for the Q and A was Sally Bridgeland, Chair Strategic Advisory Board, Centre for Mathematical Cognition, Loughborough University.

The speakers were:

Commandant RAF Air Cadets- Air Commodore Tony Keeling

Enthused by his time in the Air Training Corps, Tony enlisted into the Royal Air Force in 1987 as an Apprentice, originally training as an airframe and propulsion technician before commissioning in 1999 as an Engineer Officer. After many years in a wide variety of appointments at home and deployed, including command of Royal Air Force Wittering, he returned to the Royal Air Force Air Cadets in September 2020 as Commandant.

Air Cadets in London – OC London Wing- Wing Commander Cameron Braddy-Green

Wing Commander Braddy-Green overseas London Wing which includes 27 squadrons, 1700 cadets and 220 adult volunteers, in and across London. He is an avid educator and enjoys delivering leadership training to the senior leaders in his team, as well as first aid courses. Outside the RAF Air Cadets, he is a Consultant Gastroenterologist and Physician at Whipps Cross Hospital, Barts Health NGH Trust.

Cadet Force Adult Volunteer – OC 1147 (Barking) Squadron- Flying Officer Sulaiman Faisal

Flying Officer Faisal has recently taken the challenge of command despite being relatively new to a uniformed role within RAFAC. Having previously been a cadet, reaching the senior rank of Cadet Warrant Officer, Flying Officer Faisal has brought new ideas and enthusiasm to the role. The squadron and cadets have gone from strength to strength under his new leadership. Outside the RAF Air Cadets, he is a first-year dentistry student at Kings College London.

Cadet – Wing STEM Advisor- Cadet Warrant Officer Mariam Mohsin

Cadet Warrant Officer Mohsin is one of London Wing’s most senior cadets and a great role model for younger cadets. In 2022 she was Greater London Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet and winner of the ATC75 Sword. She is currently completing an apprenticeship with Jaguar and Land Rover and despite still being a cadet, is our Wing STEM advisor, having already launched a very successful robotics workshop for cadets across London Wing.

Training Transformation- Wing Commander Dr Jill Matterface

Wing Commander Dr Jill Matterface is a RAF Training Officer. She has completed several tours in including designing training for Chinook and Puma helicopters and Phase One Training. In 2021 she completed her Doctorate in Education which focused on how to develop a 21st century learning environment. In her current role she is responsible for reviewing the Air Cadet syllabus to ensure it provides a range of accreditation and levelling up opportunities.

Robert Gardner

Robert Gardner is co-founder of RedSTART, a financial education charity and author of “Freedom: Earn It, Keep It, Grow It” and “Save Your Acorns”. He’s devoted his career to financial education, aiming to empower people to achieve financial freedom in a world worth living in. His books promote financial discussions within families and guide young professionals towards financial freedom. As CEO of Rebalance Earth, he focuses on using private capital to restore Nature at scale.

Sarah Marks

Sarah Marks is CEO of RedSTART Educate, a children’s financial education charity working with primary schools in under resourced areas of the UK.  She is working on a longitudinal study with King’s College which aims to prove the impact that teaching primary school children about money can have on their future lives. She is also Chair of the Youth Financial Capability Group.

Franco Lam

Franco Lam is a co-founder at Dot Dot Fire, a Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award-winning start-up with a mission to break the cycle of generational poverty through life-changing games. Franco turned his struggles with financial exclusion into the Money Wise Game, a breakthrough innovation that resonates with millions of financially vulnerable young adults. He is also a commercially licensed pilot.

Jenny Burns

Jenny Burns is the CEO of B Corp accredited Magnetic, an innovation consultancy on a mission to design better futures by using design thinking to crack the world’s biggest problems. Jenny believes that a highly empathetic and human centred approach to creative problem solving is the only way we’ll overcome the challenges we face and the earlier we can embed these skills in the education system the better.

Dr Niall McCann

Dr Niall McCann is a National Geographic Explorer, conservationist and broadcaster, with a particular interest in humankind’s relationship with nature. He the Executive Director for National Park Rescue, co-Chair of the global EndPandemics Alliance, and an award-winning wildlife TV presenter.

Honorary Group Captain Sally Bridgeland

Sally Bridgeland has several roles across finance and maths education including Chair of Impax Asset Management Group plc and a member of the Royal Society’s Advisory Committee on Maths Education (ACME).  She is Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Actuaries and a current member of 601 Sqn RAuxAF, helping introduce business thinking to the Royal Air Force.

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