LISTERDALE Junior Academy has become the first school in Rotherham to close the roads surrounding it in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and encourage more pupils to walk, scoot and cycle ahead.
Ahead of ‘Walk to School’ month, the South Yorkshire school, in Beech Avenue, worked with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, South Yorkshire Travel and Modeshift STARS; a national awards scheme established to recognise schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting sustainable travel.
Together they put in a plan to close Beech Avenue for nine hours to make the area surrounding Listerdale Academy a car-free zone.
Nearby pub Brecks Beefeater served refreshments from 7.30am while parents and carers made good use of the restaurant’s park-and-stride scheme and walking bus, which is led by volunteer parents and school staff.
Pupils covered paper plates in Vaseline and hung them in trees close to school all week, so that could compare how much pollution and grit was produced by passing cars on the vehicle-free day.
And youngsters were encouraged to bring their bikes and scooters into school so that they could enjoy playing on the streets outside their school.
David Simpson, Principal of Listerdale Junior Academy, in Beech Avenue, said: “We did some air quality tests over the summer months and found that there was a 50% difference to the air quality in August compared to September, when school re-opens.
“Walking to school reduces stress levels of both pupils and those bringing them to school and it’s a great way to start the day.
“We were delighted that so many members of staff and pupils took part in the car-free day and that it was so well received.”
Jaimie Milner, Listerdale Junior Academy’s events and active travel co-ordinator, led the car-free day. She said: “We worked very closely with the council as there were a few things we needed to sort out to make the day go smoothly. The bin men, for example, were due to come on the same day and they very kindly agreed to collect the refuse earlier, at 7am, before the road shut.
“We sent letters to the residents, too, who were very supportive. It was a great day and parents have asked if we can do it all the while.”
Listerdale were rewarded for reducing the number of pupils arriving by car in October 2018 when they were presented with a Gold STARS award by Modeshift STARS. More than 20 per cent of pupils from the school now make use of the park-and-stride scheme or walking bus led by volunteers and school staff, which was recently relaunched.
Ms Milner added: “There are still spaces available on our Walking bus scheme and each child who comes actively to school at least once a week receives a badge every month as a reward.”
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