School Streets Sheffield: school in Sharrow spent five years campaigning for traffic restrictions
It's been a busy week at a Sheffield primary school, where students have been hard at work addressing climate change issues.
Porter Croft Church of England Primary Academy on Pomona Street is also one of four schools in the city with a School Street, which restricts traffic on a road outside the school during drop-off and pick-up periods as part of its ongoing campaign.And their success in encouraging safe and sustainable travel did not come easily, as it took them five years to persuade students and families to choose other and cleaner methods to commute to school rather than driving.
Speaking as world leaders gather for the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, headteacher Cath Thomas said the school has been doing active promotions over the years by encouraging pupils to walk to school, introducing Wheeley Wednesdays and campaigning for the road to be closed over the past three years.
This school, she said, has achieved Mode Shift - Active travel Gold status and is now aiming for the newly created platinum status.
She said: "So we got the road closed in front of our school beginning September and a one-way system was put in place at the beginning of half term which helps to stop traffic in front of the school at the beginning of the day and the end of the day.
"I think people found it tricky at first about where to park but now everyone is very calm, and this has become a very positive area.”
Where else have School Street closures taken place?
Councillor Douglas Johnson, executive member for climate change, environment and transport, who visited the school on Friday, also praised the school for its efforts to address climate change.
He said the 30-minute road closure during the beginning and end of the school day is part of a trial by the council and has been brought to schools that have successfully enforced traffic calming measures.
He said: "As a result, the council has been able to make alterations to the road, making it one way and putting up signage to warn people about how important not to be driving down here during school time."
The three other schools involved in the experiment are Carfield Primary School, Nether Edge Primary School and Greystones Primary School, but Coun Johnson encouraged other schools to get on board too.
What can children do to address climate change?
Ms Thomas stated that as a headteacher, tackling climate issues has been well ingrained in the school, with the children participating in COP26-related activities.
She said: "We think the climate change issues are very important at our school so the children this week have been doing a lot of work on COP26 activities.
"We have been writing letters to MPs to ask what they're doing and explain to them what we are already doing as a school.
"We have also been building Lego models for a better world, we have been planting seeds, making posters and writing poems and generally finding out what COP26 means for the world.”
The United Nations is currently hosting the 26th global climate change conference called a COP (Conference of the Parties) and chaired by the UK.
The summit is widely regarded as the world's last best chance to stop climate change from becoming uncontrollable.