Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Primary celebrates being the first school in Crawley to achieve the Gold School Mark award as part of our active travel programme.
The School Mark award is a joint Sustrans and Crawley Borough Council initiative. It helps pave the way for schools to grow a culture of active travel by encouraging pupils to cycle, walk and scoot. We are currently working with 17 schools across the borough.
The special ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Crawley, Cllr Geraint Thomas and Cllr Peter Smith, as well as Sustrans staff.
The school has been working with us since April 2011 and have been working their way through the School Mark programme for the past four years. They achieved the Bronze award in 2015, Silver in 2016, and have now achieved Gold.
The school earned the award through the commitment made by the school's Bike It champion, Mrs De Lange, and Head Teacher, Mr Melia.
The number of children arriving at school by cycling, walking or scooting has risen
Working together with a dedicated Sustrans Bike It officer the school gathered a wealth of evidence that is required to achieve this challenging award. This includes showing that, since working with us in 2011, the percentage of pupils arriving at school by car has dropped by nine per cent. The number of pupils arriving at school by cycling, walking or scooting has risen by six per cent.
Work towards the award is structured so that children are empowered to make the decision to cycle, scoot or walk to school and enjoy the benefits associated with it.
This includes a variety of educational and fun events such as monthly Bike It Breakfasts, bike skills workshops as well as a genuine commitment from the school to promoting cycling, scooting and walking both within the school policy and the wider community.
Cycling boosts health and friendships
James Cleeton, Sustrans England South Director said:
“I congratulate everyone involved in this marvellous achievement – the Gold School Mark award is an outstanding recognition of a school’s commitment to active travel by encouraging children, parents and the wider community to make the choice to walk, cycle or scoot.
“The health benefits of having a more active school community are well documented and broad-ranging.
“Incorporating physical activity in schools is not only good for our environment, but it is also a social activity that can help young people by boosting friendships and combating stress or loneliness.”
This award is well deserved
Celebrations continued after the awards assembly. Our Bike It Officer, Pat, conducted a Dr Bike safety inspection at the school. We also held a static bike challenge where 3.3 miles were sprinted out by a group of Year Six children during break time. A Year Six pupil achieved the fastest speed of 32 mph and won himself a bike computer.
The school has further planned a BMX fun day and also a bicycle decoration day highlighting the importance of High Visibility in conjunction with Diwali and Fireworks.
Mayor Carlos Castro said:
“There is clearly a desire from people in the local community who want to choose to walk and cycle more and programmes like this one which encourages families to travel more actively can really help.”
Cllr Geraint Thomas, said:
“The School Mark program is an exciting initiative to help improve the environment outside of schools as well as encouraging families to walk, cycle or scoot to school. Initiatives like this benefit the community as a whole.”
Cllr Peter Smith said:
“It's encouraging that there was such a positive response from everyone at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Primary. They have worked hard but had a lot of fun too and this award is well deserved.”