St John’s Primary & Nursery School receives Gold STARS award for increasing active travel to school

The school was presented with the award on Clean Air Day

St John’s Primary & Nursery School has received the much coveted Gold Modeshift STARS Award for its exceptional efforts in promoting walking, cycling and scooting on the school run.

St JohnsThe school was presented with the award on Clean Air Day, when Southampton City Council also launched its ambitious Green City Charter. The Charter will seek to work with a broad range of key stakeholders – such as local schools – to deliver a bold set of environmental measures, reduce pollution and secure a green future for Southampton.

The Gold award is the highest accolade awarded by Modeshift STARS (Sustainable Travel Accreditation and Recognition Scheme), a national scheme acknowledging schools that have excelled in encouraging active travel on the school run. Crucially, schools must evidence a 5% reduction in car usage amongst pupils and their families over a five year period in order to reach this prestigious milestone.

Understandably, this is a very challenging target and schools must work incredibly hard to achieve it. For St John’s Primary & Nursery School, this has included a range of activities and initiatives to inspire travel behaviour change.

 In November, the school became the first in Southampton to implement a part-time road closure outside the school at drop-off and pick-up times. Notably, since doing so, active travel has increased from 89% to 93%.

The school records families’ journeys to school using Living Streets’ Travel Tracker and provides bike and scooter skills training to support children to travel actively. Pupils have also participated in air quality monitoring and a range of different challenges including Sustrans’ Big Pedal, the Scooter Challenge and Walk to School Week.

To emphasise how active travel benefits local air quality, the school has delivered air quality workshops in conjunction with Southampton City Council’s School Travel Team. As part of a workshop in January this year, Year 4 pupils were invited to enter a competition to design a ‘No Idling’ banner for the Red Funnel Company.

Three lucky pupils were chosen and have had their designs transformed into banners for display at Red Funnel’s Southampton and Isle of Wight Terminals. The banners will remind drivers to switch off their engines while they wait to board their ferry.

To celebrate, all 60 of the school’s Year 4 children attended the Southampton Terminal on Clean Air Day to see the banner being installed. The three winners also received a hamper of gifts and a family ferry ticket, donated by Red Funnel.

Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel Ferries, said: “As part of our three-year environment strategy ‘Red Goes Green’, we are working closely in conjunction with the Environment Centre and Southampton’s Clean Air Network to discourage our private and commercial customers from idling their engines in order to improve the air quality within Southampton.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed working with the students at St John’s Primary & Nursery School, seeing their creative talent and watching the designs of the new banners being installed at the terminals. These new banners will increase awareness of our anti-idling campaign and help improve air quality for customers and staff, as well as those living and working in the local area. Well done and many thanks to all the teachers and students involved in this fantastic project!”

Also on Clean Air Day, the school celebrated its Modeshift STARS Gold award with an air quality themed walk. This was followed by a special assembly where pupils received their award from Councillor Steve Leggett and enjoyed a performance from theatre education company Histrionics, duly titled Adventure Through the Airges. The school specifically chose the theme of air quality in recognition of Clean Air Day and the difference that their road closure has made to air quality around school.

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City, said: “It’s fantastic to see the measures that St John’s Primary and Nursery School is implementing to encourage more parents and guardians to consider sustainable transport on the school run. Our Green City Charter outlines our commitment to becoming a clean, green and healthy city and the achievements of St John’s Primary and Nursery School provide an excellent example of how we can all do our bit and work together to realise this goal. Congratulations to St John’s Primary and Nursery School – keep up the hard work!”

Pictured, Cllr Leggett presents Sam and Ivayla, two of St John's school councillors, with the school's Gold Modeshift STARS award.