Whole School Approach to Improving Air Quality

Air pollution can have extremely negative impacts on health and wellbeing, leading to serious health problems. These impacts are often most severely felt by vulnerable people such as children, older people and those with existing heart and lung problems.

People living in areas near major roads can be exposed to high levels of pollution.

Air quality is about how healthy the air that we breathe is. Air is made up of "good" gases like oxygen that we need to breathe, "bad" gases like nitrogen dioxide that affect our health, and tiny dust like particles. Most air pollution comes from cars, vans and trucks, and from heating our homes and buildings. This means that the way we travel and heat our buildings affects the quality of air we breathe.

A Whole School Approach will ensure that all members of the school community are involved (staff, students, parents, and governors); that learning is backed up by school policies and reflected in the culture, ethos and environment of the school.

These are the 9 Strands of the Whole School Approach

Leadership & Management and Managing Change

  • The Head teacher and SLT give Air Quality a high status within the school.
  • Named governor & member of the SLT with this responsibility
  • Ensure effective consultation and communication with all school governing bodies around air quality issues
  • School staff leading by example – becoming positive role models for children and young people in relation to Air Quality: 'Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk (literally!).'

Policy Development

  • The school has policies / practices/ procedures and educational experiences that support clean air.

E.g. School travel plan; road safety policy, ECO school related policies

  • Schools should have an up to date Asthma Policy in place

Relevant policies are agreed by governors and staff that have involved consultation with pupils /students and parents.
Relevant policies link to and are consistent with other polices in school.

Toolkit of Measures to Improve Air Quality at Schools

Curriculum planning & resourcing (including working with external agencies) teaching and learning

  • The whole curriculum should be organised to complement a whole school approach to improving air quality
  • There is a planned programme of PSHE which is clearly timetabled which incorporates educational experiences that support clean air
  • Clean air is seen as a cross curricular theme and is incorporated into relevant subject areas e.g. Science, PE, citizenship, PSHE
  • Learning strategies are used to address skills, values and attitudes as well as knowledge: to enable children and young people to have a better understanding of air quality issues and are provided with opportunities to be empowered to create a cleaner environment for the future.
  • Learning strategies might include: experiential learning, values clarification and analysis, creative thinking, future problem solving, storytelling, inquiry learning, science in the community.
    Visitors are used to support and enhance the curriculum e.g. Sustrans Living Streets
  • Resources are assessed and evaluated for suitability before being used and reviewed for effectiveness once in use. A range of teaching and learning strategies are used, based on effective practice.

Environmental Education Activities for Primary Schools: Suggestions for Making and Using Low Cost Equipment

Air Pollution Health Crisis Teacher's Pack

Clean Air School Pack

School culture, ethos and environment

  • How can the school's physical surroundings and design be altered to improve air quality in and around the school?
  • Invest in walking and cycling infrastructure and facilities
  • A culture of Active Travel to and from school – needs to be fostered through the systematic adoption of supportive programmes e.g. park and stride, walking buses
  • Consider a drop-off exclusion zone around schools
  • Support behaviour change campaigns e.g. no idling outside school

The physical environment needs to be developed to support walking and cycling to school

  • Links to relevant programmes e.g. Leicestershire Healthy Schools Programme, Eco Schools, Bikeability.

Giving pupil's a voice

  • All pupils are given opportunities to identify needs, comment on policy and practice and contribute to curriculum planning and evaluation of effectiveness.
  • Children and young people are involved in awareness campaigns
  • School council is involved in making whole school decisions about whole school strategies to improving air quality
  • Children and Young People act as Advocates/ Ambassadors for Clean Air / Air Quality

Provision of pupil support services

  • Children and Young People are more vulnerable to breathing in polluted air than adults
  • For their size, they breathe more air each minute than an adult. Buggies and prams put them at the level of car exhausts.
  • If a child breathes high levels of air pollution over a long period, they might be at risk of their lungs not working as well as they grow older :
  • wheezing
  • coughs
  • lung cancer when older
  • developing asthma during childhood as an adult
  • if they have asthma already; air pollution can make it worse
  • infections like pneumonia

The school keeps up to date with local services and provides clear access to information about them for pupils. Where appropriate the school offers school-based drop-ins and other support services for pupils including school nursing.
Specific needs of individual children and young people are taken into account and appropriate signposting of services for them and their families is given.

Bottom of Form

Staff Professional development needs, health and welfare

  • The school ensures teachers, governors and support staff receives appropriate CPD, INSET and ongoing support so that they feel confident and competent to contribute towards a whole school approach to improving air quality
  • School staff act as positive role models- for example choose active forms of transport to and from school

Partnership with parents, carers and local communities

  • The school recognises that parents are crucial to the success of the Whole School Approach to Air Quality programme and gives them regular and accessible opportunities to comment on policy and practice. For example: Active Travel to and from school
  • Parental involvement in Mode Shift Star & the development of a School Travel Plan
  • Partnership work with District Council Air Quality officers

Assessing, recording and reporting pupil's achievement

  • PSHE (including will be assessed on skills and attitudes as well as on knowledge and will involve pupils in the assessment.
  • Part of the assessment will involve pupils being asked to reflect on their work and learning as well as how well they feel the PSHE curriculum is meeting their needs.
  • Parents will receive information about pupils' learning in PSHE/ other related subjects such as science/ biology / geography including Air Quality
  • Assessment opportunities are built into the PSHE / other lessons

(specifically relating to Air Quality) and Programme