Clean Air in Schools: Goose Green Primary School
Kimberley Hickman is Project Manager & Clean Air Champion at Goose Green Primary School.
After two difficult winters with my asthmatic son, I started researching poor air quality in urban areas, and found not only does it affect children with asthma (e.g. increasing hospital admissions), but it also affects non-asthmatic children.
Like many London schools, Goose Green Primary sits on a busy main road and its playground was exposed to high volumes of traffic.
We are one of the first schools in the area to have taken proactive steps to improve air quality. The whole of Goose Green School's playground now falls within the EU legal limits for NO2. We also have anecdotal evidence of improving asthma symptoms and coughing fits.
Clean air initiatives
- We installed a 2.2m high ‘Green Screen’ barrier of pre-grown ivy to trap pollution between the playground and main road. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels inside the playground have now reduced by 48% and NO2 levels in the playground are 52% lower than the road outside!
- We are planting more trees, shrubs and plants with further funding from the Mayor of London's Greener City Fund.
- We have installed state of the art Air Purifier Units in each classroom to remove indoor air pollutants.
- We have made improvements to cycle and scooter storage to encourage more children to cycle or scoot to school.
Hands-on pupil involvement and education
- We encourage child-led environmental policy making. Our team of ‘Eco-Warrior’ children discuss environmental issues, run environmental initiatives and feed back to their classes. We recently worked with Southwark to create a walking map of the area to reduce congestion, encourage exercise and reduce obesity.
- We invite pupils, parents and community members to ‘Big Dig’ gardening events.
- Our Gardening Club encourages children to appreciate the powers of nature, grow their own food and take responsibility.
- Our school curriculum allows children to: understand pollution and its impact, study the plants and habitats in the playground, run science projects to monitor air quality and grow edibles to use in class and in the school’s kitchen.
Policy and management
- We are working on a “Walking Bus” scheme to discourage driving to school and support the community. We have also set up a “Park and Stride” scheme, encouraging parents who need to drive to park further away and walk the last few hundred metres.
- We are involved in a local campaign for a School Street (car exclusion zone). We discuss issues with the press and local community to create links, raise awareness and keep air quality on the political agenda.
- Goose Green School is an official Clean Air Day Supporter
Advice for other schools to improve their air quality
- Look for funding – Funding for air quality initiatives is often available in the form of grants. Alternatively, ask your PTA to support your school’s clean air initiatives, or use external consultants to fund and run your projects.
- Nominate a Clean Air Champion – They can access support and advice from other local schools via local clean air groups.
- Get involved locally – Get involved with networking and campaigning groups in the school’s local area (I attend Mums for Lungs).
Read more about Goose Green Primary School’s air quality initiatives here
I like the ivy wall because we can breathe in clean air when we run around and play. I also liked planting it because it was a fun way to work as a team at school.
Year 3 pupil