Walkers are real stars as school is recognised for travel changes

Karen Whinney, governor responsible for travel plan, headteacher Becky Smith and Andrew Selous MP, c

Karen Whinney, governor responsible for travel plan, headteacher Becky Smith and Andrew Selous MP, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group with junior travel ambassadors Jenna Whinney and Katharine Oxer. - Credit: Archant

A school’s work in increasing the levels of walking, cycling and sustainable transport used by pupils has led to a national award.

Barnabas Oley Church of England Primary in Great Gransden was named National STARS School Travel Planning Primary School of the Year, with the winner being announced at the Houses of Parliament.

The school has been taking part in Cambridgeshire County Council’s Modeshift STARS (Sustainable Travel Accreditation and Recognition) school travel planning programme, where it has achieved gold accreditation working with the road safety education team.

In November last year the school won the regional ward and went on to compete for the national title.

Research for the travel plan involved identifying the need for slower speed limits around the school and pupils presented their findings to the parish council before working with the council on a successful bid for a 20mph speed limit.

The number of pupils walking to school increased from 38.2 per cent in 2015-15 to 55 per cent in 2016-17 and there has been a dramatic fall in the number of children being dropped off by car from 44.3 per cent to 9.3 per cent.

Head teacher Rebecca Smith said: “This award fully endorses the work of so many different groups of people who have contributed to making travel to school safer and more sustainable.

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“Motivated by our junior travel ambassadors, the school has worked alongside the parish council, local police, local authority travel advisors, governors and parent volunteers.”

She said: “We now have embedded schemes for all year groups which include Bikeability, Balancability, Scootsmart and Walksmart. All of these initiatives have helped to encourage increased walking/scooting numbers. Parents have responded positively too, supporting our efforts by parking away from the school and walking in with their children. We are very surprised but also very proud to have received this national award.”

Councillor Mathew Shuter, chairman of the highways and community infrastructure committee, said: “Modeshift STARS presents a huge opportunity for us to increase the number of children and young people that have an active journey to school in Cambridgeshire.

“I am thrilled that one of our schools has won such a prestigious award for its work in encouraging more sustainable travel to and from school.”