Forty schools across Hounslow borough have now been officially accredited by Transport for London (TfL) for their commitment to sustainable travel.
Forty schools across Hounslow borough have now been officially accredited by Transport for London (TfL) for their commitment to sustainable travel. This involves pupils, parents and teachers increasing their commitment to beating congestion, pollution and improving road safety around schools.
TfL has accredited the 40 schools that have committed to the Sustainable Travel, Active, Responsible, Safe (STARS) programme, which is an online accreditation scheme that inspires children and their schools to think and act differently about travel and its impact on their health, wellbeing and the environment. The programme works to address issues of congestion at the school gates, road safety and air quality and urges children to walk, cycle or scoot to school.
The morning rush hour is a busy and often stressful place to be. With so many vehicles on the road heading to school, it is damaging to the environment and has a real impact on air quality in Hounslow.
Yet the average journey to school is less than one kilometre – that’s a ten-minute walk or even faster if you cycle. However, many of these journeys are made by car, resulting in a congested and polluted environment for us all. By swapping car journeys for active travel, STARS schools can make a real difference to the environment and the health of school children and communities. Walking or cycling to school is also a really fun way to travel that can be sociable and a great shared experience.
Schools that sign up to the STARS programme are fully supported by Hounslow Council officers as well as by a champion at the school. Outside agencies also support the scheme with educational sessions, including with police providing advice on road safety and Junior Road Watch, a scheme to prevent speeding around schools.
Schools can achieve three levels of accreditation under the STARS scheme – Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each requires different activities to be completed. Of the 40 accredited schools in the borough, four are now bronze accredited, ten are silver and 26 have achieved gold.
Participation in the STARS scheme also has much wider benefits for schools and children. It means that participating schools gain priority access to free road safety education courses including Junior Road Watch, Pedestrian Skills Training and Bikeability training. It also counts towards Healthy Schools silver and gold awards, allows Junior Travel Ambassadors to develop real world skills and acts as evidence of promoting and achieving active travel to Ofsted, local residents and other groups.
Hounslow Council’s Cabinet member for Children, Learning & Employment, Councillor Lily Bath said:
“We want to make sure that all schools in our borough can take advantage of the benefits the STARS scheme offers with active, healthy children and cleaner air. At the same time, we want to reduce the dominance of cars on our roads so that it is safer for children to walk and cycle as much as possible.
“Healthy, active schoolchildren are more engaged at school and physical exercise offers a boost to mental wellbeing too. I encourage every school to become an accredited participant in the STARS scheme; you will be supported and reap the many benefits with a cleaner, safer local community around your school.”
Getting started on this journey is easy. By joining the programme, schools can join others in the borough of Hounslow that undertake active travel through STARS and have the opportunity to experience more than a six per cent decrease in car use on journeys to school on average. All schools across the borough are welcome to join the STARS programme.