The Ty’n Y Wern Primary School community in Caerphilly has become only the third school in Wales to have received the prestigious Gold Active Travel School Award from Sustrans.
Ty'n Y Wern Primary School pupils and staff celebrate receiving their Gold Active Travel School Award with Community Councillor, Peredur Owen Griffiths MS, and Sustrans Cymru staff. Credit: Gareth Llewellyn
The award, which has only previously been achieved by two other schools in Wales, is given to schools that have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to promoting active and sustainable travel.
It's no mean feat to achieve the Gold award, and it shows that a school’s committed to making significant and lasting organisational, cultural and behavioural changes.
A reflection of ambition within the school
The fact that Ty’n Y Wern is only the third school in Wales to have received the Gold award is a reflection of their commitment to encouraging and supporting active travel among their school community.
This is the result of the work done by the whole school community after they committed to the Active Journeys programme and the Active Travel School Planning project, projects funded by Welsh Government to promote active travel.
Pupils, staff, parents and guardians came together to celebrate the achievement by holding a celebratory event.
There was an opportunity for pupils to take part in a ‘bling my ride’ session, and there was a visit from Community Councillor, Peredur Owen Griffiths MS, as the award was presented to school staff.
Peredur Owen Griffiths, Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales East, said: "I would like to congratulate Ty'n Y Wern Primary School for this tremendous accolade.
"Teachers, pupils and parents have put in a lot of hard work to achieve the Gold award from Sustrans.
"The fact that only two other schools in Wales have earned this award speaks volumes."
The importance of active travel to the school community
Speaking about the school’s achievements, a culmination of their commitment to Sustrans' Active Journeys programme, Headteacher, Soph Goodliffe, said: “We are over the moon and so incredibly proud to have achieved our Gold Active Travel School Award.
“This reflects our school’s dedication to the mental and physical health of our learners, and it’s also testament to the support of our whole school community.
“Health and wellbeing are at the heart of everything we do at Ty’n Y Wern, and we recognise the importance that physical activity has on both the physical and mental health of our children.
“We believe active travel is a fantastic way of not only increasing physical fitness, but also reducing congestion and pollution around the school, resulting in a happier, cleaner, and healthier school environment.”
A positive culture change around the school run
Speaking about the school's achievements and the importance of their commitment to active travel, Peredur Owen Griffiths MS said: "Since taking on this Sustrans challenge, there has been a big culture change during the school run for so many families.
"Pupils and parents have increasingly rejected the car for a greener and healthier form of transport, contributing to making our air cleaner and our roads safer.
"I would now like to see other schools in Wales follow in the path of trail blazers like Ty'n Y Wern Primary School."
Ty’n Y Wern acknowledged the impact that active travel has had on their school community.
According to staff, pupils have learned new skills and it’s helped build their self-esteem and confidence.
A steady increase in the number of active journeys to school has meant that there’s less congestion during the school run.
Active travel has also helped the school develop close links with its wider community, according to Headteacher Soph Goodliffe. She added: “Trethomas Bluebirds FC, a local football club, have helped and supported us with fundraising projects.
“It was with their support that we were able to raise £1,500 for an adapted bike for one of our pupils with a physical impairment.”
Continuing the journey of culture change
Receiving the Gold Active Travel School Award looks to be continuing the journey of changing how the school community involves active travel, building on the good work they've been doing through the Active Journeys programme and Active Travel School Planning project.
Soph Goodliffe added: “In the future, we would like to set up a bike bus to give more of our pupils the opportunity to enjoy a bike ride to school.
“We would also like to upskill our staff so that they have the skills and confidence to take the children on led bike rides around the community."