We are actively engaging with ongoing research at both schools looking into the quality of the air our children are breathing. We have measured the air quality inside and outside the schools and are looking at ways to improve our practise so that the quality of the air our children breathe is enhanced.
It is very important that the school environment protects children’s health and does not increase exposure to air pollution. School-aged children spend a great deal of time inside school buildings. They are more vulnerable to airborne pollutants than adults not only because of their narrower airways, but also because they generally breathe more air per kilogram of body weight. The exposure of children’s developing lungs to air pollution can result in reduced lung function that persists through to adulthood, increasing susceptibility to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Research suggests that ventilation rates keeping carbon dioxide (CO2) levels between 600 and 1,000 ppm may improve cognitive performance of students. Ensuring good air flow in classrooms and around the school is important and also maintaining temperatures as close to 20˚c is thought to also help with creating the optimum learning environment so all classrooms have a thermometer to check the temperature in classrooms at different times of the day.
Both schools, being in London, and both near busy roads mean that we need as educators to be actively thinking about how we can ensure that the air that our children is breathing is as clean as possible. Year 6 have taken part in a project looking at the importance of having a green wall of ivy surrounding a playground as it forms a ‘barrier’ along busy roads and in playgrounds to ‘block’ out toxic fumes. Research on urban vegetation suggests that it can help reduce the impact of pollution on people and buildings by acting as a pollution sink. The transport of pollutants from nearby traffic sources in urban areas can be effectively reduced by using green barriers. We have installed green wall infrastructures at both schools around the perimeter of the schools to reduce the impact of pollution in near road environments.
When we engage in the many outdoor activities and visits to places in and around the local area we do consider walking routes to attempt to take children using a route that has the cleanest air.
The clean air route finder is really useful.
There are two monitors outside the schools to measure the air quality outside our schools. This information is being collated over an extended period as we will benefit from advice on how to respond to the findings over the coming months.