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Westerings Primary Academy and Rochford District Council pilot ‘school streets zone’ as part of Great Big Green Week


In a bid to support safer and healthier school commutes, Westerings Primary Academy and Rochford District Council successfully piloted a ‘School Streets Zone’ for one day (Wednesday 12 June), as part of the Great Big Green Week.

To tackle concerns raised by parents and residents regarding congestion and safety during school pick-up and drop-off times, Sunny Road was temporarily closed to all vehicles from 8:15-9:00am and 2:30-3:30pm - to create a ‘School Streets Zone’. The aim is to create a secure environment for children arriving and leaving school, promoting safety and reducing traffic around the school.

To support the day,  the school and council organised ‘walking buses’ supervised by volunteers to ensure a safe journey for families opting to walk to school. This community-driven effort not only enhances safety but also encourages physical activity among children and fosters a sense of belonging within the neighbourhood.

Henry Muss, Rochford District Council's Climate and Sustainability manager, said: “The turnout of over 300 children and parents, who would normally drop off the kids at the carpark on walking bus days, walking together down the traffic-free Sunny Road was fantastic. This pilot demonstrates how small changes can produce significant benefits for our community as well as our environment in tackling the second largest source of carbon pollution in the district of Rochford - transport emissions. This approach is designed not only to mitigate congestion and make school streets safer but also to provide an opportunity for parents and children to enjoy quality time walking together. A big thanks to those at the council and the headteacher who enabled this to happen. I hope the success of this pilot will pave the way for other schools to follow suit.”

Adam Stainsbury, Westerings Primary Academy headteacher, added:Seeing hundreds of Westerings children safely walk to school during the Great Big Green Week was remarkable. Not only is walking to school better for their physical and mental health, it's also better for the environment and reduces the number of vehicles unnecessarily congesting the streets for other road users. On a daily basis, we unfortunately see drivers outside the school gates making hasty or risky choices which put other families at risk, all with a view to saving a few minutes in the morning. With almost 80% of our families living within walking distance of the school, we want to do everything in our power to encourage more families to make safer and healthier choices. 

“During the pilot, our parents were able to access free parking at the library car park and surrounding streets. This meant that families who live further afield and needed to drive, could opt to park-and-walk to school from one of three recommended locations. We look forward to hearing from our parents and other stakeholders about the trial, with a view to possibly being the first school in Essex to adopt the 'School Streets' initiative that has been so successful in other boroughs.”