Changing how we travel to school

The Air Quality Programme

In July 2018 Leeds City Council started the ongoing two year Air Quality School Programme. This programme aims to help raise air quality issues outside 30 schools in Leeds whilst promoting sustainable travel to school and:

  • Promote all sustainable modes of travel
  • Improve road safety awareness
  • Improve scooting skills
  • Promote a healthy and active lifestyle
  • Use active travel and have fun!

The programme runs for approx. 6 -7 weeks in each school and is targeted to a Y5/6 audience. The aim is to deliver the programme in three waves of 10 schools per wave until the completion of the programme in July 2020.

As well as receiving 10 new scooters and 2 storage units to go with them, participating schools will also receive scooter safety training, lesson plans and resources on air quality, which include practical experiments using handheld air quality monitors. Schools taking part will be given the scooters, scooter storage, a Clean Air Toolkit (containing the lessons and resources aimed at Year 5/6), the incentives for the pupils in the form of a Goodie box filled with scooter related goodies and £500 of Love2shop vouchers, to further incentivise using active travel to get to and from school.

In February you may have seen the launch day for the scheme which was held at Pool C of E Primary School and featured in local TV news as well as the written press. On the day of the launch of the scheme the Influencing Travel Behaviour Team organised an afternoon of scooting, lessons and air monitoring at Pool C of E Primary School. During the afternoon, the Year 5 and 6 classes took part in half an hour sessions of scooting, a short lesson and air monitoring where pupils learned about air quality, how to be safe on the scooters and how to promote scooting and active travel both in school and the wider community. The launch afternoon was attended by Councillors James Lewis and Richard Lewis, as well as media from BBC Look North, Calendar News, BBC Radio Leeds and the Yorkshire Evening Post!

This scheme is proving to be very successful in reducing car use in schools, particularly in Year 5 where the lessons and tasks are mostly focussed (collectively there has been a decrease in car use of 8% at school level and 15% in year 5 pupils). As well as the reduction in car use, 100% of schools to have taken part so far when asked if they would take part again in future initiatives indicated they would, with all schools who have completed evaluations rating the programme as very good to excellent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the free scooter training is one of the most popular elements of the programme, with many children who have already taken part feeling enthused and excited about scooting to and from school, instead of travelling by car. In some instances, extra scooters and helmets have been purchased by the schools to allow scooter training to be added to the PE curriculum so the children can continue to refresh their scooter skills every year!

Hopefully, schemes like the ongoing Air Quality School Programme can help us to educate both children and adults about the dangers of air pollution, increase knowledge and use of sustainable methods of travel, promote a healthy and active lifestyle and reduce car use and emissions outside our schools.

As schools you can actively promote sustainable travel by encouraging your children and their parents to leave their cars at home and scoot, walk or cycle to school instead. Other initiatives such as scoot, cycle or walk to school weeks, walking bus, park and stride, 5 minute walk and No Idling zones, can all help to reduce air pollution around your school. Information on schemes such as these can be found at our website.

As a school you can also use the Modeshift Stars website to make it easier to create, develop and support your School Travel Plan while simultaneously gaining nationally recognised accreditation for the fantastic work you are doing to reduce emissions!

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