Walk and Wildlife Day
At GHS this year a Sustainable Travel Group was formed with the aim of raising awareness of, and starting conversations about, our place in the wider transport context; GHS’s efforts in both the Senior and Junior School have led to us going forward for a national travel award, Modeshift STARS. We are delighted to have gained Bronze level through our actions this year and are part way to achieving a Silver Award, hoping to achieve two main aims in the next year to complete this: decrease car travel by 10% and raise awareness of the benefits of active and sustainable travel.
This year Junior School have celebrated Walk to School Week in May with walking buses from the Spectrum Leisure Centre and Burchett’s Farm, a week of themed assemblies, lessons featuring sustainable travel superheroes amongst other fun activities. This summer, new scooter and bike storage will be added in the Junior School playground. In the Senior School we have relaunched our train buddy system for Year 7, introduced a walking buddy system and published train discounts to new pupils. We have worked with Surrey County Council and the charity Living Streets to make a Pindar map showing walking times to school, park and stride zones, plus public transport options. We have also established links with neighbouring schools on transport matters. Awareness raising events such as Clean Air Day in October and Active Travel Days in this spring and summer meant 141 pupils tried out another more sustainable and healthy form of getting to school. A new wider pedestrian route now separates pupils from the car drop off zone. Year 9 have analysed travel data from pupil surveys showing that car use had increased due to Covid-19 but is now declining again to 49% of all journeys. We hope to see a return to the train being the main mode of transport in Senior School, offering independence, a chance to meet friends, a reduction in air pollution locally and globally. We are also pleased to see the growth in park and stride amongst pupils who complete the last 5-10 minutes of their journey on foot, reducing school gate congestion and delays for local residents and businesses.
Mrs Boulton launched a whole school walking challenge which led to the creation of a new ‘Walk and Wildlife Day’ in July when staff and pupils were challenged to walk from home to school. In total GHS walked 2564 miles (4125km), which would be the equivalent of the distance between Guildford and Senegal, Kazakhstan, Sudan or Newfoundland. Pupils used a QR code to link to a specially created plant list to help them appreciate the local environment. There was a wildlife photography competition based on wildlife and being with friends outdoors.
Our Green Prefects Livy and Camryn have worked together with Mrs Boulton, Mrs Howitt, Mrs Hughes, Dr Lockett, Mrs Moffat as well as the wider staff and pupil network and have been phenomenal in raising awareness, advertising and running events. With the guidance of Miss Hanlon they have renewed the Green Flag Award that GHS holds. They should be incredibly proud of what has been achieved. I hope they take their achievements and inspiration forward, inspiring others and getting involved, making a positive difference for local neighbourhoods and the wider planet.
We hope we have encouraged members of the GHS community to reflect on and reconsider their own personal environmental habits in the area of travel. It certainly is a complex issue and while we appreciate this we hope to lean from the pause that lockdown brought and consider how we can make more good journeys, ones that delight, bring joy, generate endorphins, connect with local areas and are healthy for ourselves and the wider community.
Mrs Sharon Howitt