Today there are more cars on the road than ever and in our world of convenience shopping we are becoming more and more reliant on transport. Our growing reliance on motorised transport is causing detrimental effects on the environment and on our physical and social health. Transport releases many chemicals into the air, and some like carbon dioxide are contributing to global warming and therefore climate change.
The more we use transport, the more air becomes polluted. Exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds and particulates, all of which are very harmful to health when released into the atmosphere. Soot particles from exhausts cause lung damage, especially when they contain chemicals such as benzene.
The more people rely on cars to get to work and to take their children to school, the more we are damaging our health and the health of those around us. Walking or cycling to work or school, or using public transport, instead can provide exercise that can help promote a long and active life.
Did you know?
On average, one in seven children suffers from asthma; this figure increases to one in three in inner city areas
In slow moving traffic, pollution levels are higher inside cars than outside
Cycling or walking briskly for half an hour a day can halve the risk of heart disease
Transport and schools
YoungTransNet surveys show that many young people would like to travel in a more sustainable way, with 30% saying they would cycle to school. Yet according to the Department for Transport, currently only 1% of them do. Surveys also show that over half of all primary pupils live within a mile of their school, yet one-third are driven there; and a survey by Living Streets found that 90% of parents who walk to school find this time important for spending quality time with their children.
By walking and cycling more, pupils improve their health as well as build independence, road safety and social skills, help reduce carbon emissions, and reduce local traffic congestion during the school run by helping take more cars off the road.
Living Streets run a range of schemes to encourage parents, children and young people to make walking to school part of their daily routine. They have a Walk Once a Week scheme for primary schools and a Free Your Feet challenge and Campaign-in-a-Box citizenship challenge for secondary schools. They also offer a range of information and factsheets for parents and councils. Visit the Living Streets website for details.
Sustrans Free Range Kids campaign has loads of ideas, advice and resources to help you promote walking and cycling to school, encourage active playtimes and enhance learning by using the outside environment. The Sustrans Bike It initiative aims to give pupils greater confidence on their bike, get fitter, have fun and improve their knowledge of bike mechanics thanks to ‘Dr Bike’ sessions.
Visit the Sustrans' website for more details on the above or to get further information and resources to help you with your school travel initiatives.
School Travel Plans
If you study the transport topic, you will need to draw up your own travel plan. This is a collection of ideas and actions to encourage safer alternative and more sustainable transport. By studying transport, pupils will be able to:
Understand the impact that travel has on our environment and health
Be encouraged to lead healthier, more active lifestyles
Be able to implement an alternative transport to school programme and to discuss these ideas with their families and the wider community
The Pod - EDF Energy's Programme for Greener Schools
The Pod, EDF Energy’s Programme for Greener Schools, can help you with the transport topic. The Pod is an interactive online resource for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 teachers and pupils. It aims to make real and measurable improvement to the resource use and carbon output of schools across the country.
All activities on the Pod are accredited by Eco-Schools England and specifically designed to help schools progress through the Eco-Schools programme and achieve Bronze, Silver and Green Flag awards.
Both teachers and pupils can use the Pod and joining is completely free. Visit www.jointhepod.org to register.
The Pod’s transport activities
The Pod offers a range of practical transport activities, designed to be run either by a teacher, class or Eco-Committee. The Pod’s activities typically come with an activity resource pack, lesson plan, take-it-home sheet, interactive game, assembly and an audit to help you track and measure the impact of the activity. Upon finishing an activity you can enter your start and end audit data into the Pod’s special online Pod-o-Meters to measure any savings made. The Pod’s transport information pack helps you understand the impact of transport, the costs or benefits of different forms of transport and much more.
The Pod is expanding its resources all the time, but the following is a list of the transport activities currently available for Key Stage 2 and 3.
Better off by bike: Pedal power is the best kind of energy! It causes no pollution and doesn't release any carbon dioxide into the air. So get on your bike now!
Inspire sheets: help inspire those at home and in the local community to make your local area greener
The audits that accompany each of the activities can be used to support your Environmental Review and your monitoring and evaluation efforts; and the activity’s associated lesson plans will help you link biodiversity into the curriculum.
Visit the Pod's Activity pages.
Linking transport into the curriculum
Eco-Schools England have developed a series of lesson ideas designed to inspire you on your journey to embedding sustainable issues into everyday lessons. We have primary and secondary ideas that will encourage your students to solve real-life problems and present their solutions in a variety of ways.
Many of these lesson ideas cover the transport topic as well as link into a range of curriculum areas. Visit our Eco-Schools Free Resources section to find out more and to download these lesson ideas.
Living Streets also have a range of lesson plans and resources to help you embed walking to school into your learning.
Other sources of school transport resources
For information, practical advice and lesson ideas on walking to school, visit Living Streets' Walk to School Campaign pages. The travel footprint calculator can give you emission figures for your journeys; a useful source of data for your monitoring and evaluation.
To see a list of other organisations that can provide you with school resources and advice on tackling the transport topic, or help you school travel plans, visit our Useful Links page.
See how other Eco-Schools have successfully addressed the transport topic
Queen Elizabeth II High cover five topics with their tREe CYCLE project. They are reducing their carbon emissions from transport, offseting the rest by planting trees and even created a bike shed from old plastic bottles.
Covingham Park Primary have introduced a "five minute walk zone" to help create safer, smarter journeys to and from school. Their new slogan is "Park and walk, take time to talk."
Or visit our case studies section for even more ideas and inspiration from other Eco-Schools
National Awareness Days and Campaigns
There are many National Awareness Days, events and campaigns that tie in with the Eco-Schools transport topic. Why not use them as a way to introduce transport issues or projects to your classes and get your students really interested and involved with them. Click on the titles to find out more.
You can get all the environmental awareness dates for the coming academic year, as well as dates for Eco-Schools and Pod events by downloading the 2012-2013 Year Planner.