Evendons Primary School in Wokingham has won a prestigious accolade for sustainable school travel with help from Wokingham Borough Council.
The primary in Finchampstead Road is the first in the borough and only the eighth in the country to be awarded the highest possible status of platinum in the national Modeshift STARS scheme.
The initiative, which is backed by the Department for Transport, recognises schools which make an outstanding contribution towards reducing car use in favour of walking, cycling and other environmentally friendly alternatives.
It is funded and managed locally by the borough council’s My Journey initiative, which pays for the Modeshift STARS platform to help create sustainable school travel plans and offers guidance and free activities for schools to achieve accreditation, then progress to higher levels.
The council also offers grants of up to £2,000 for schools that become accredited or advance through the levels. These may be spent on sustainable travel projects.
To gain and maintain accreditation, schools must implement and stick to their travel plans by meeting criteria which include undertaking surveys and setting and hitting targets.
Building on success
Evendons Primary School signed up to the scheme more than three years ago and had already won a bronze and silver award. Staff were considering going for gold next but then realised they qualified for the highest level.
The school has undertaken 75 separate travel initiatives since it joined, including one in which pupils counted the number of cars in the car park then did it again later to see if they had successfully persuaded their classmates to try alternatives.
They also took part in the cycle charity Sustrans' Bike to School scheme in partnership with My Journey and the Cycle September campaign. The latter is staged by the Love to Ride Wokingham initiative, which is also funded by the borough council.
Cycle September saw more than 400 participants across the borough cycle a total of almost 43,000 miles, saving a total of 5,068lb of carbon dioxide emissions.
The pupils also took part in the Living Streets WoW (Walk Once a Week) initiative, a competition in which they won a badge if they walked in at least once a week for a month.
The school's travel co-ordinator Laura Shambrook, who oversaw its application to Modeshift STARS, also encouraged the youngsters to walk into school as part of her regular running club sessions.
The school is one of eight in the borough which have diffusion tubes measuring levels of nitrogen dioxide, a harmful pollutant which comes mostly from vehicle emissions. This is being delivered in partnership with My Journey and with funding from DEFRA.
The school also intends to build a “green wall” of plants including species which can absorb harmful pollutants.
'A shining example'
Cllr Keith Baker, the Mayor of Wokingham borough, recently attended an assembly to present staff and pupils with a certificate to honour their achievement.
He was welcomed to the school hall for the handover, where he talked to the children about his mayoral role before meeting them in the playground as they proudly showed off their scooters and bicycles.
Cllr Gregor Murray, executive member for resident services, communications and emissions, said: “Everybody has a part to play in tackling climate change and I'm delighted that the pupils of Evendons Primary School have shown such dedication to this at such a young age.
“They are a shining example to others across the borough and should be very proud to have won this award, which recognises their exceptional efforts. I also commend their parents and teachers for supporting them in this worthy endeavour.”
Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport, said: “This is a wonderful achievement both for the school community and our own My Journey team, whose sterling work in encouraging residents to use more active modes of transport plays a critical role in keeping the borough’s roads moving.”
For more information about My Journey, visit www.myjourneywokingham.com
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