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Supporting Lewisham schools to tackle air pollution

Find out more about tackling air pollution in school areas in Lewisham.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 90% of children around the world are breathing in toxic air every day.

This poses a serious risk to their physical and mental development. A major concern for children is their exposure to traffic-related air pollution on their routes to school. 

We want to use our school specific action plan, which complement our 2022-2027 Lewisham Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), to reduce the exposure that children experience to poor air quality in a systematic way. 

The following school specific actions form part of the fulfilment of Action 14 (Public health and awareness raising) in the AQAP to deal with air quality around schools. 

In-house school action plan

We encourage school to compile their in-house action plan using prescribed guidance/templates available via the Global London website or the London Schools Pollution Helpdesk.

Air quality monitoring in/around schools

We currently monitor air quality around schools and across Lewisham using the combination of following devices.

Real time monitors can also measure particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10). Pending the availability of funding, further Diffusion Tubes and sensors/nodes also will be deployed around schools in the coming years.

Lewisham Measured Pollutants levels

All current air pollutant concentrations recorded in around Lewisham schools are below the current legal annual average limit of 40μgm-3. Our Annual Status Reports (ASRs) show all our measured air pollutant concentrations across Lewisham since 2013.  We are working hard to achieve the new and more stringent WHO guidelines published in 2021.

2019 Greater London Authority (GLA) modelled data

Since 2013 in according to the GLA (2022), there has been a significant reduction in total NOx emissions across the whole of London and Lewisham in particular. Compared to 2016, total NOx emissions have reduced by 18% in Greater London, and 17% in Central London. The data shows no exceedance of the NO2 air quality standard of 40μgm-3 around schools in Lewisham but exceedance of the new WHO guideline of 10μgm-3. This is not unique to Lewisham and is the same for all London boroughs. All the concentrations of PM2.5 recorded around Lewisham schools are however above the 10μgm-3 interim guideline, which the Mayor of London has committed to meet by 2030, with all exceeding the WHO guideline of 5μgm-3.

Note: Modelling air quality is carried out to inform policies in area where no measured data is available. No modelling is perfect, and the limitations must be acknowledged.

Air quality forecast and information

While sources of pollution will reduce over time, with actions being taken across London in general, it is important to ensure that we protect children’s exposure to poor air quality in Lewisham now. To this end we have made a free Lewisham Air app available to all residents. This app allows residents to find low pollution routes and shows the reduction in exposure to poor air quality achieved by choosing these routes.  It also provides alerts where pollution levels are predicted to be high, with tailored health advice. This app is of particular use to parents and children when looking at routes to and from their home and school.

You can check air quality levels via our website. There are other resources like air text that support access to local air pollution information due for publication soon.

School Superzone Project

We will be setting up a number of Superzones around 400m radius of our targeted schools which aim to create healthier and safer places for children and young people to live, learn and play. A School GLA funded superzone project has been setup around Haseltine School with other schools to follow pending the availability of funding.

School Air Quality Workshop Programme

We are continuing the Pan London Idling and air quality workshops (plus idling enforcement) around schools.

Lewisham Council is currently launching a programme of free interactive workshops and events for students throughout the autumn and spring terms. We will print a free banner for each of the 10 selected schools created from their students’ artwork and speak directly with parents to tackle idling outside their school gates.

The following schools are participating, and the reports will be made available on this website in due course. There are only our spaces left out of 10 places.

School Air quality workshop factsheets are now available, click on the school name below:

  • Haseltine Primary School 

Carbon School Programme

We are carrying out actions to help school manage their carbon emission. Read about our interrelated air quality and Carbon Management Programmes on our website.

School Air Quality Audit Programme

Lewisham Council is launching in October 2022 a programme air quality audits in Lewisham (in accordance with the initial 2019 GLA school audit programme) [5]. This programme is important for schools where school streets are not possible. We have just secured funding of £5,000 for a Starter Pack to go towards implementing the recommendations made in the report.

What is an Air Quality Audit?

A School Air Quality Audit is where specialists assess sources of air pollution in and around the school, and identify areas where children, staff or the wider community are likely to expose to higher levels of air pollution. They will then work with the school and Council officers to design a series of measures that can be considered moving forward. Whilst the focus of the measures is to help reduce sources and exposure to harmful emissions, some will also help encourage more active and healthy travelling behaviour and improve road safety

How and why your school was selected?

Due to limited resources, we have initially selected 10 schools that would benefit from an audit. To ensure that the selection process to identify schools for action is open, fair and transparent, we used a set of general criteria to prioritise the schools for action.

These include:

  • Levels of pollutions surrounding your school
  • school statistics: Total number and age of pupils and
  • whether the school are engaged with Transport for London STARS programme (Sustainable Travel: Active, Responsible and Safe).

The following schools have been selected and the reports will be made available on the website in due course. 

1. Adamsrill Primary School
2. Ashmead Primary School
3. Baring Primary School
4. Edmund Waller Primary School
5. Fairlawn Primary School
6. Good Shepherd Primary School
7. Kender Primary School
8. Our Lady & St Philip Neri School
9. Stillness Junior School
10. Torridon Primary School

Greening around schools

We are encouraging the schools to use GLA/Helpdesks’ Toolkit and advice for barrier planting to protect playgrounds where possible. We support tree planting to help the physical and mental health of the Lewisham population, especially school-aged children, through the creation of green corridors and tree avenues outside or near to Lewisham primary schools.

Educating children

We are designing and will be delivering a clean air communications campaign to raise awareness of the harm caused by poor air quality (indoor and outdoor) and how individuals can take action to reduce their emissions. Links to all resources compiled will be sent to all schools across Lewisham. 

Pedestrianisation/active travel

We are encouraging active travel by introducing school Streets, temporary road closures/ play streets and restrictions for parking. We will assess the feasibility of school streets at a number of schools per year. Implement where they are deemed appropriate.

Ultra-low emission vehicles

Pending the availability of funding, we will be carrying out a feasibility study for the creation of a fleet of electric school vehicles for disable/vulnerable children or use contractors with ultra-low emission vehicles to transport disable/vulnerable children.

Lewisham Council will continue to work to secure additional funding and resources to work with all stakeholders to improve air quality around schools.

If you have any question, please contact the Environmental Protection Team at environmentalprotection@lewisham.gov.uk.