Catalyst for Change
Through talking about air quality at my children’s school with other parents I realised that other parents had the same concerns as me and we decided to do something about it. We started by suggesting to other parents that we bring in plants to improve the air inside the classrooms. This was well received and put the issue high up in people’s minds so that at a meeting with the school governors a week later, air quality at the school was the hot topic everyone wanted to talk about.
Once we had the attention of the governors, we brought it up with the head teacher, providing her with a lot of research about air pollution and the detrimental effect on health. She invited us to present at the PTA AGM which was attended by the school management team and parents and we launched the Clean Air Council under the PTA. Working with the PTA and other parents throughout the school has proved vital to ensure that we have support and to demonstrate that the school community is behind us.
Keeping up the Momentum
Before the Covid pandemic, we continued to raise the profile of air quality at the school by periodically selling plants for the classrooms and by holding a clean air stall at the summer fair. We engaged with parents and local residents by asking them to choose which air pollution mitigation measures we should adopt first at the school. Since the pandemic has struck we have not been able to have the same level of direct contact with the school community but we have been working behind the scenes.
We have air purifying plants donated by parents and the local W6 Garden Centre inside all of the classrooms; thanks to Tree Appeal and with the help of the Tree Company (London) and GoodGym Hounslow we were able to plant hedge ‘whips’ (young plants) around the smaller school playground; the school started a gardening club and they have active travel days from time to time when children are encouraged to come to school using their bikes, scooters or walking instead of by car; the PTA funded an air quality monitor installed inside the school; Airly have installed an external air monitor in the main playground; and the PTA are fundraising to purchase air filters for the classrooms which are most affected by air pollution.
We set up the St Peter’s Clean Air Council for St Peter’s C of E Primary School, Hammersmith in June 2019.