The growing momentum and coverage of the recent climate change marches, involving many young people, has significantly raised the concern of environmental causes and how they are becoming increasingly urgent. This is something we should all be taking seriously, including us as a school. At Coleridge, a school with ‘Caring’ at the heart of its core values, we feel inspired by these young people and our pupil community, and want to support their desire to enjoy a cleaner/healthier planet.
Environmental action can take many forms; recently some children, led by Ms Laura Bosworth, have taken part in lots of activities highlighting the need to reduce plastics. This has proven to be an empowering and productive campaign. We would like to thank all children involved and also the parents who have dramatically reduced their use of disposable coffee cups as a result.
Another area of environmental concern that we would like to focus our attention on is that of air pollution. A host of reputable studies and judgements from public health officers have underlined the gravity of the problem for our nation’s school children:
- Findings from academics at Queen Mary University in London reveal that young children were absorbing a disproportionate amount of tiny black carbon particles during the school day with potentially devastating health consequences.
- Amy Gibbs of Unicef UK said the results were deeply worrying, “Every day, thousands of children across the UK are setting off on a toxic school run that could impact [on] their lifespan and contribute to serious long-term health problems.”
- Prof Jonathan Grigg from Queen Mary University led the study and said the findings underlined the need for a radical and urgent clean-up of the nation’s air.
- Young children are exposed to 30% more pollutants than their parents due to their proximity to vehicle exhausts. Breathing in high levels of air pollution over a long period, puts children at risk of a host of potential long-term health problems.
- A study by Unicef estimates that as many as 1 in 3 school children could be susceptible to
long-term health problems as a result of their exposure to air pollution. Indeed recent studies have also credibly established air pollution as affecting children’s mental well-being and capacity to learn.
This is something we consider a serious responsibility at Coleridge, and something that we feel compelled to take urgent action on moving forwards. Air pollution is something that effects all of London’s schools, but at Coleridge we want to ensure that we are a school that is doing our best to tackle the issue. Working in conjunction with Unicef, we will be developing a number of child-friendly activities in school in the coming months, tackling the issue and empowering children to feel they can take control of a situation that affects them.
However, beyond our in-school activities, the most dramatic change we can make to the air pollution surrounding our school needs to come from our parent/carer community. We would like to implore parents to help us in tackling this issue.
Urgent Action Plan
- Firstly, we would like to limit the number of car journeys made to school where possible. We appreciate that some parents need to drive, but we would urge all of you to consider whether there is an alternative, given the gravity of the situation our children are facing.
- Secondly, if it is absolutely necessary to drive to school, we would ask you to please consider parking slightly further away from the school and walking the last part of your journey together with your children.
- Finally, we would like to see the end of engine idling around the perimeter of the school (Crescent Road, Haslemere Road, Waverley Road, Crouch End Hill). The fumes from these cars are filtering straight into your children’s playgrounds and classrooms on a daily basis. PLEASE TURN YOUR ENGINES OFF when dropping off/picking up your children from school. We feel this is a behaviour which we can and should stamp out immediately.
The council are planning on increasing traffic wardens around the school in order to help the school monitor the situation.
A group of Coleridge parents have formed a Clean Air Coleridge group and have been working together with the school and local council to raise awareness and funding to tackle the issue of air pollution. We are hoping to be able to raise enough funds to put lots of measures in place to improve air quality and ultimate quality of life for all of our Coleridge pupils. These efforts will hopefully result in initiatives such as School Streets, green screens, improved walking routes and more being implemented around the school. However, such initiatives require time and fundraising. We will be introducing this group and their objectives in the near future.
For the sake of our children’s health and future, we ask that everyone helps to further tackle the serious problem of air pollution, we need to work together as a school community. Please take note of the suggestions above and take action immediately if you are a car user for the school drop off and pick up.