Active travel and schools
A growing number of schools across Oxfordshire are active on environmental issues. High on the list for many is the issue of air pollution, with schools being near to roads with heavy traffic. Pollution is also made worse by many people driving children to school and causing congestion in nearby streets.
There is some good work being done on these issues – for example, many schools have run Walk to School programmes through the WOW initiative and the City Council has worked on anti-idling campaigns with six schools. It also seems that others are linking work on pollution and travel to their ‘eco-schools’ and ‘green group’ programmes.
Oxford Friends of the Earth has been working with CoHSAT to carry out a survey of schools in the county, with the aim of setting up an Oxfordshire Schools Clean Air Network, OxSCAN. Most schools in the county have a School Travel Plan, which sets out an plan of action to reduce car use, manage traffic-related issues, and encourage a mix of walking, cycling and bus journeys to school, as appropriate for that individual school. The plans need regular updating and implementing if they are to be effective. CoHSAT is collating information on existing active travel plans from all schools in Oxfordshire and supporting schools with updating their plans, so that best practice can be disseminated. A final survey will establish if changes to these travel plans have occurred.
Modeshift STARS is the national schools awards scheme that has been established to recognise schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable travel. Click below for more details.
Lynn Knapp, head teacher at Windmill primary school in Oxford, discusses their recent Clean Air Day in the video below. Pupils were in Oxford’s Bonn Square with banners, handing out leaflets to drivers to urge them to turn off idling engines. The anti-idling campaign is an ongoing initiative from Oxford City Council and Oxford Friends of the Earth, and Windmill Primary is one of a number of schools that have received lessons and learning materials as part of the campaign.
The school children also learned more about air pollution and the climate crisis through Schools Tackling Oxford Air Pollution (STOP), a City Council sponsored project which involves children in understanding and tackling the issue through the school curriculum. The programme involves pupils in measuring pollution around their school, teaching them about the health impacts and educating them about ways they can help reduce pollution by encouraging walking, cycling and public transport.