Air Quality Initiatives

At Goose Green we have a formidable combination of a very involved parent body and a very proactive leadership team, both of whom are extremely aware of the dangers posed by London’s current poor air quality.

Goose Green’s Approach

As a school we are aware of the fact that there is an underlying long-term issue which requires long-term solutions in both education and policy.  There is also an urgent shorter-term issue: to protect our children right now (what we call the “sticking plaster approach”).  We aim to deal with both of these issues in our approach.

Our strategy can be broadly split into three categories:

  1. Infrastructure – physical changes at the school that will help alleviate the short-term dangers and improve the long-term situation;
  2. Policy and Management – changes made in the school’s management of air pollution issues and the way the school helps deal with issues on a wider scale (e.g. within Southwark);
  3. Pupil Involvement and Education – how we teach the children how to make positive change, both now and for their future.

Infrastructure

On-going or recently completed projects:

  • The Green Screen Project – The installation of a 2.2m high pre-grown living ivy barrier between the school’s playground and the main road on which it is situated (completed in February 2018 and supported by the Mayor of London, Dulwich Society, Winkworths, Suzanne James and others). See more on this below.
  • The APU Project – To install air purification units into all classrooms within the school by Summer 2018 (supported by Southwark Council, Marylebone Services and Suzanne James).
  • Playground and Roadside Greening – To add further trees, shrubs and plants throughout the playground (including edible features and greening the roadside barriers at exhaust level) – ongoing.
  • Cycle and Scooter Storage Improvements – To encourage more children to cycle or scoot to school (completion due Summer 2018).

Policy and Management

Focus areas:

  • Walking Bus – A Walking Bus scheme to discourage driving to school and ease pick-up and drop-off congestion.  This will help children get to school on time and assist working families.  We are currently applying for funding to cover set-up costs and mapping a pilot route (target: September 2018).
  • Park and Stride – To create a relationship with a local car-park owner and encourage parents who need to drive to park there and walk the last few hundred metres. This will ease congestion and reduce pollution.  Children will also become more active (target: September 2018).
  • Local involvement / strength in numbers – Active involvement in both the Cleaner Air for Southwark’s Schools network and the newly formed local Inter-School Air Quality Group (set up by parents at the Belham).
  • Creating links, raising awareness and keeping air quality on the political agenda – We discuss current issues with the press and with our local community.

Recent press appearances:

Pupil Involvement and Education

Four ongoing initiatives:

  • Eco-Warriors – A team of children elected from each year group who meet weekly to discuss environmental issues, start and run environmental initiatives and feed back to their classes to enable all pupils to help.  Child-led environmental policy making.  A recent eco-warrior initiative was to work with Southwark to create a walking map of the area surrounding the school to a) reduce congestion; b) increase levels of exercise; and c) reduce obesity levels.
  • Clean Air Day – We ran in-house Clean Air Day event to raise awareness, educate families and collect pledges (e.g. walk to school).  There was a special assembly and children were asked for suggestions and encouraged to take the conversation home.  Goose Green School became an official Clean Air Day Supporter.
  • Gardening Club – We plan to set up a lunchtime Gardening Club (in September).  This will encourage children to appreciate the powers of nature, grow their own food and take responsibility for their own green infrastructure.
  • Curriculum development – The SLT reviews the curriculum annually in order to bring in opportunities to: a) understand pollution and ways to minimise it and its impact; b) use the greening of the playground to study habitats (e.g. of minibeasts); c) run science projects to monitor air quality; d) study plants; e) grow edibles (and use them in class and in the school’s kitchen).

Case Study: The Green Screen Project

In Spring 2017, a group of parents who were concerned about air quality at the school (particularly in the playground) decided to form a sub-team within FOGGS to specifically fundraise for and install a Green Screen.  The project was so big that they decided the campaign needed to be self-funded and to sit outside of the more “general” PTA structure to ensure that FOGGS could still continue to support the school in the usual way.

The campaign team identified:

  • The Problem: It was clear that, being in Central London, air quality was not good.  FOGGS researched the subject, involved local campaign groups in seeking science and statistics and measured air quality with the help of the school’s eco-warrior pupils. 
  • The Solution: FOGGS researched all types of solutions for the boundary fence, including variations in greenery and comparing the cheaper method of growing our own hedgerow saplings, climbers vs. the more expensive pre-grown option.  It became evident that the pre-grown option was preferable because it was a) instant and b) far more robust (a number of DIY methods have been attempted in the past and failed).  Evidence from other similar projects showed that a Green Screen like ours was capable of improving levels of NO2 by 30-40% and particulate matter (PM) by 40-60%.  We plan to take our own measurements in due course.  The cost of the solution was just over £20,000.
  • The Campaign: The campaign was designed to raise the money for the project from multiple sources.  FOGGS focussed on:
    • FOGGS fundraising – A stand-alone Just Giving account was set up to allow parents and friends interested in this particular cause to donate.This was a huge success – parents who wanted to give to this cause were able to and those who did not (or could not) were not put under any pressure.
    • Local businesses – FOGGS approached local businesses with a sponsorship proposal, offering different levels of publicity for different levels of support.This was very well-received and a number of local businesses were very keen to help with such a pressing issue.
    • Local government and other funding sources – We were granted £11,794 by the Mayor of London through his Greener City Fund.
  • The “Big Dig”:  To increase awareness and involvement of the school community, FOGGS decided to use ‘parent power’ to help with the installation of the Green Screen over 3 Community Planting Days.  This had the added benefit of decreasing labour costs and providing local volunteering/education opportunities.  We welcomed the entire community, from pupils and parents to local businesses and political supporters.  The planting days were held over February half term 2018 (in sunshine, believe it or not!) and were a huge success.  Not only was the installation successful, but the feel-good factor amongst the school community was (and still is!) at an all-time high!

Videos

We have two videos which capture the spirit of the Green Screen Project brilliantly.

If you have any questions or you feel you would like to help on any of the ongoing projects, please contact the office, who will put you in touch with the relevant staff member.