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The LIS x H&M Sustainability Competition: A Widening Participation Programme

At the end of March LIS invited fifty Year 12 students from London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, Ursuline Academy Ilford, Langdon Park School and Dixons Allerton Academy to our campus in Whitechapel to explore interdisciplinary learning, sustainability, and jobs in the 21st century as part of the LIS x H&M sustainability competition. 

Introduction to interdisciplinary learning and complex problem solving 

 The day began by exploring interdisciplinarity and how it can be used to solve global complex problems such as food waste, income inequality and global warming. After capturing their web of ideas on the chalk walls of the classroom, the students started to apply the same approach to sustainability and fashion.  

“I now realise that you can apply different subject-specific skills to a wide range of problems, issues and professions.”- Jaeden, LAE Tottenham  

Building your academic toolkit to tackle complex problems 

The second part of the day was academically focused, with students exploring concepts, theories, and methods they hadn’t come across in their studies before. The students confidently applied their newly found knowledge to the complex problem of sustainability and fashion.

I particularly want to find out more about the nudge theory to determine its effectiveness in bringing about change, especially how this is related to mental health and healthcare roles” – Tanisha, Ursuline Academy Ilford 

Jobs for the 21st Century and complex problems 

Finally, they explored the skills and jobs of the 21st century. As students started pulling together all they had learnt, intense debates were held over the importance of different roles and subject disciplines that can be useful in the modern workplace.  For example, how can a town planner be instrumental in tackling the problem of climate change? 

The LIS x H&M sustainability competition 

 The students will take their learnings from the sessions and work in groups of 4-5 to submit an entry to the LIS x H&M sustainability competition. They will analyse their school’s sustainability practices, acting on behalf of H&M. From their evaluation they will create a presentation explaining the problem of sustainability, diagnose their school’s performance and create an action plan for the future.   

Leaders from the H&M sustainability team and educationalists from LIS will review the submissions to determine the winning proposals. The winning group will receive £5000 for their sustainability action plan, a trip to the H&M showroom in London, where they will meet and have a presentation from leaders in the sustainability team, and a £50 voucher for H&M for each group member.  

 We would like to thank London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, Ursuline Academy Ilford, Langdon Park School and Dixons Allerton Academy for their contributions and insights on their visits. We look forward to visiting the students again in their own schools to explore their findings and think about how what they have learnt can help them on their academic or career journeys.  

To find out more about the programme and take part please visit the LIS x H&M competition.   


Widening participation at LIS delivers outreach activity to students who are from low socioeconomic backgrounds or eligible for Free School Meals, of Black ethnic origin, or live in areas where they are less likely to go to university (POLAR Q1 and Q2). 

Geraldine Withey is the Widening Participation Manager at LIS. If you or your school would like to experience LIS and learn more about us you can get in touch by emailing  



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