Two Staffordshire schools have won regional recognition for their work promoting greener travel and combatting air pollution outside their school. Working with Staffordshire County Council’s Active Travel Team, Heath Hayes Primary Academy in Cannock and St Edwards CofE Academy in Leek have both won the Regional School Travel Awards for Primary Schools and Secondary Schools respectively. The awards are given to schools who have demonstrated excellence in supporting sustainable travel. Both schools are involved with the Staffordshire County Council’s Air Aware Project to raise awareness of air pollution and to encourage less polluting and more sustainable journeys. At Heath Hayes Primary Academy, pupils and staff have been working hard to implement the school travel plan to make the journey to school more sustainable and less polluting. They have also installed additional scooter and cycle storage and introduced a park and stride scheme. An anti-idling initiative encouraging drivers to switch off their engines when parked up outside the school has also helped reduce air pollution.
At St. Edwards Middle School, they have introduced more cycle and scooter storage and engaged with parents and pupils to raise awareness of air pollution and encourage sustainable travel on the journey to and from school. James Simm, Deputy Headteacher at St Edwards Middle School said: “This is fantastic news and something we did not expect to achieve so quickly. We have been working with the Air Quality team at Staffordshire County Council to encourage parents and pupils to travel in a more sustainable and less polluting way. It is something we are excited to be part of and will keep working to ensure that the air around our school is cleaner for our pupils and the school community”. David Williams, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Staffordshire County Council added: “Air pollution is an issue that affects everyone, but as we can see from the amazing work done by the pupils at the schools, it’s something we can all help to reduce. Winning the awards is great news and the pupils should be very proud of their achievements. “Most air pollution comes from vehicles on our most congested main roads and outside schools, which is why we are focusing on working with schools in the worst affected areas to raise awareness amongst parents and help them choose a more sustainable and less polluting mode of transport.” The county council is already committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. By thinking differently about how people live their everyday lives (how we travel, heat our homes, how we work, what we buy and how we dispose of our waste), the council believes that we can all make a difference. The Air Aware project is working with schools and businesses in Leek, Burton and Cannock to raise awareness of air pollution and to encourage sustainable and active alternatives to the car. Businesses and schools in those areas are being encouraged to sign up to the campaign.