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Council receives government grant to continue vital air quality projects with our schools

Wokingham Borough Council has announced that its vital air quality improvement project has been extended after receiving £125,000 grant from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The purpose of the grant is to provide support to local authorities in England to develop or implement measures that deliver air quality benefits, developing solutions to increase awareness and encourage positive behavioural changes.

The council has used previous funding to employ a dedicated eco-travel officer who has been working directly in schools with teachers, pupils and their families to increase active travel and improve the air quality within Wokingham Borough with a focus on health and the environment.

The council eco-travel officer will continue to deliver a series of one-off events, active travel initiatives, campaigns and educational resources to increase active travel and reduce air pollutant emissions, with particular attention on key target areas within the borough.

As part of the council project, led by its My Journey team, the eco-travel officer has been working with a number of primary schools, monitoring Nitrogen Dioxide (N02) around the outside of the schools. The schools have also been working towards Modeshift STARS, a national awards scheme providing recognition to the schools who demonstrate excellence in promoting active and sustainable travel. 

My Journey encourages schools across Wokingham Borough to sign up, offering a £2,000 grant to those which achieve a new Modeshift STARS accreditation to spend on further promotion of active and sustainable travel to and from school.

Through the air quality project, the council is working on lessons and activity packs for primary schools to teach pupils about the sources and impact of air pollution as well as allowing children to consider what actions we can all take to improve air quality.

The council’s eco-travel officer has recently worked with Hawthorns Primary School in Wokingham, inviting pupils to design an air quality poster to encourage drivers to stop idling in their cars outside of their school. Out of over 100 amazing entries, three winners were selected and their designs will be displayed on a banner outside their school.

Sarah Mapleston, a year 2 teacher at Hawthorns Primary school who has been working closely with the council’s My Journey team said, “Our pupils and families have positively engaged with the opportunities that have been provided by the council's My Journey team which has allowed us to fully take advantage of the various offerings.

“Our travel surveys have shown that many children wish to walk, cycle or scoot to school and we will continue to encourage this as we know children benefit from having fresh air and exercise”.

A Council representative said, “we are thrilled to receive this grant from DEFRA that will allow our My Journey team to continue to help schools promote the benefits of active travel for our children’s health and concentration as well as the air quality across our borough".

“It is great to hear that schools around the borough are continuing to work towards their Modeshift STARS and how pupils have been walking, cycling and scooting to school more. We cannot wait to visit, when restrictions allow, to congratulate them in person for their hard work and see them in action when our My Journey classes can recommence.”

Further information about active travel and air quality can be found on our website.