Southwark council’s air quality, team supported by Charlotte Sharman Primary School, in Kennington, hosted an air quality audit, organised through the Greater London Authority.
Mark Cottray, the GLA’s auditor, and Cllr Octavia Lamb, Southwark council’s deputy cabinet member for air quality, joined Andrew May, headteacher at Charlotte Sharman School, to look at the work the school has already made a start on.
They hope the audit will offer suggestions for further steps, and help the school become a forerunner in the race to tackle poor air quality in the capital.
Southwark council says its new air quality strategy looks to encourage collaborative working across the council, ranging from housing, highways and education, to health, environment and external partners, to do their best for the borough’s air quality.
It commits to lobbying the government, addressing engine idling, increasing the planting of trees and hedges, and much more.
When Charlotte Sharman Primary heard that the GLA were conducting air quality audits in schools, they immediately invited them to their school in Southwark.
Headteacher Andrew May hopes to tackle the London-wide problem head on. He is working with the auditors and the council to develop measures to improve air quality for the children, staff and the local community as a whole.
On the day, Mr May took Mark Cottray and Cllr Octavia Lamb to watch the children being dropped off at school. They were pleased to note that the majority arrived on foot, and in an orderly fashion.
Charlotte Sharman Primary was an early adopter of the council’s School Travel Plan, which promotes walking and cycling to school.
After this, they discussed the school’s good work in addressing local air quality, which includes theatre productions on the subject for the children, regular Bikeability sessions, which teach road safety, and their Healthy Schools silver award, which recognises the work they’ve done to encourage the children to be active, healthy and knowledgeable about sustainable travel.
“It was wonderful to talk to teachers and students and see what they have achieved”
Mr Cottray also talked to some of the children about air quality; he was impressed that they understood that walking is good for the environment and that car fumes are bad for the air. He also conducted a thorough air quality audit throughout the school; the results will be published later this year.
Cllr Octavia Lamb said: “It was wonderful to talk to teachers and students at Charlotte Sharman School and see what they have achieved in terms of improving air quality, and learning how they plan to take this forward.”
Cllr Maisie Anderson, cabinet member for public health and social regeneration, said: “London’s air quality is a public health crisis. The council is committed to working through our own policy, and together with other boroughs and the Mayor, to become part of the solution to combatting poor air quality.”