At St Mary’s school, we believe that every child should be able to live and work happily and healthily. As a Church school, we believe that one of our responsibilities as human beings is to care for God’s creation, so that everyone can enjoy it safely.
‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.’ Genesis 2:15
Very sadly, the location of St Mary’s school has the highest recorded levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) of any school in London, due to its location next to the Marylebone Road. This is very worrying to us because of what it means for our pupils, staff and whole community.
You can find out more about air pollution in this helpful video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39170488
What are we doing about this and how effective has it been?
Our children have put together their own video about what they have been doing about this issue and what you can do to help:
We have been encouraged that our internal monitoring of air quality (June 2017) shows that air quality within the school site is now below the legal limit of 40μg/m³, despite being so close to Marylebone Road, which has levels in excess of 100μg/m³. This is, in part, due to the substantial greening of our school playground and grounds, something we are keen to extend throughout our site. We are still concerned, though, about parts of our school that are directly facing the road, about many of our children’s routes to school which involve crossing roads with illegal levels of pollution, and about the places where our families live.
We have now achieved TfL’s Gold STARS award for our work in this field, as well as our school’s approach to sustainable travel.
We monitor the pollution levels daily. Check out today’s pollution levels on this helpful map from DEFRA.
Some of our pupil councillors spoke at the National Air Quality summit about their concerns regarding air pollution.
Enford Street Closure for Play Street Event
On Thursday 14th June, between 3.00 and 5.15, Enford Street was closed to traffic to allow us to hold a Play Street Event, focusing on clean air and road safety. There were lots of fun things to do, including craft and cycling activities, and information about how the Marylebone Low Emissions Neighbourhood group is trying to reduce air pollution. We hope this will have made some drivers think about the effect of their driving on our school, and will have encouraged families to adopt safer walking practices. This was our second after-school ‘play street’.
Mask Design Competition
The children excitedly put forward lots of different designs for masks which can be worn around the local streets to protect from air pollution. The winning design, by Emily in Year 5, has now been made into a mask in China by Cambridge Masks and is ready for the chidren to wear!
Other key activities:
- The School Council wrote to Mayor Khan in July 2016 – he wrote back to us explaining his plans for improving air quality School Council letter to Mayor, Mayor Response
- The whole school wrote again to Mayor Khan in January, explaining the effects of air pollution on their health and suggesting actions that could be taken.
- We were delighted when Mayor Khan visited us in May 2018! The school will be given £10,000 by both the Mayor’s office and Westminster City Council to install air filtration systems inside the school building.
- Children are busy designing the school garden which will replace our car park. We have raised £12,000 for this, including £10,000 from British Land.
- The School Council has undertaken surveys of traffic outside our school and reported these to Westminster Council.
- Year 4 undertook a project in the summer 2017 with Sustrans to raise awareness of air pollution and measure air quality on our site. Here are the results: St Mary’s Bryanston NO2 results.
- The School Council has joined up with St Edward’s School Council, and met with local councillors to voice our concerns.
- We have invited experts from British Land to look at our building and provide ideas for protecting our site from pollution. We have now implemented some of these ideas, e.g. bringing NASA recommended house plants into every classroom, raising money to turn part of the school car park into a garden, and mapping different routes children can take to work which avoid the most polluted roads
- We are talking to our neighbours, and local businesses, to raise money for living walls and/or plants which will help shelter our school from pollution. So far, thanks to local councillors, parents, Governors and Waitrose, we have raised around £2,000.
- We have encouraged as many of our families as possible to walk, scoot or cycle to school by adding scooter and bike storage in the car park (funded by TfL). We run cycle training for all year groups (and for some adults) through Sustrans, so that everyone can cycle confidently and safely.
- Our pupils have studied the effects of air pollution, and are extremely knowledgeable about it. They have actively promoted awareness of the issues, both within the school, and around the local area.
- In September 2017 we took part in a TfL audit of air quality, which has produced suggested ways TfL, Westminster Council and local businesses can support the school to improve air quality for our pupils. As part of this, the team presented to the School Council and Green Team.
- We wrote to the editor of the Evening Standard, who named us in their paper: Evening Standard letter
- On Wednesday 20th June 2018, 5 pupils attended the National Clean Air Summit, hosted by the Lord Mayor and the Mayor of London: clean air summit
How can I help?
We have been asking parents and friends of St Mary’s to contribute house plants from NASA’s suggested list, to make the air inside our school much safer to breathe:
If you would like to donate a plant, we will very happily receive it and find a home for it! We are delighted with the plants we have received from parents, neighbours and St Mary’s Church. Thank you.
Money for the Garden
If you would like to make a donation towards our Garden Project, please contact Ms Cahill at the school office: email@example.com
Sustainable Travel Options
Please try and travel to, and around, our school in the most sustainable way possible. If you can, please walk or take public transport. We highly recommend walking on side streets, and NEVER on Marylebone Road if you can help it. You can find low pollution routes here: https://walkit.com/cities/london/ Here is an example of the route from Baker Street station to St Mary’s school: walkit