Active travel isn't just important for the fight against climate change and reducing air pollution. It's also great for our physical health and wellbeing. As part of the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the Active Travel Act in Wales, Sustrans Cymru is recognising the efforts of schools that have promoted and supported active travel in their communities.
Father and sons cycling to school in Llangollen, North Wales. Credit: G. Thomas/Sustrans.
Our Active Journeys Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government and is helping children across the country to walk, wheel, scoot, and cycle safely and confidently to school.
Schools receiving support through the programme see a significant increase in the number of young people and families travelling to school actively.
As part of Sustrans Cymru's celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Active Travel (Wales) Act, we wanted to recognise the special efforts made by schools from across Wales and their roles in supporting future generations to travel actively.
Two children cycling on their journey to school. Credit: G. Thomas.
North West Wales
School: Ysgol Gynradd Llanfairpwll
Special Recognition: Dedicated School Champion; bringing active travel into the classroom
Ysgol Gynradd Llanfairpwll, Anglesey, are a new Active Journeys School who joined the programme in September 2022.
Sustrans want to give special recognition to the dedicated school champion, Mr Eilir Evans, who teaches Year 3 and 4.
Mr Evans has been enthusiastic and dedicated to the Active Journeys Programme since the very beginning.
Mr Evans developed a three-week work unit for Key Stage 2 pupils dedicated to active travel and road safety.
By incorporating this into the curriculum, Mr Evans has ensured that active travel, clean air, road safety and health and wellbeing themes have been embedded into pupils' learning.
As well as learning in the classroom, pupils at Ysgol Gynradd Llanfairpwll have taken part in Bike to School Week, a Dr Bike maintenance session, a Festive Bling your Bike, and a Be Bright Be Seen event since September.
More recently the school took part in Sustrans' Big Walk and Wheel, the UK's largest inter-school walking, wheeling, scooting, and cycling challenge.
The pupils recorded a total of 2,086 active journeys to school during the 10-day challenge.
We look forward to collaborating with Mr Evans in the future to further increase awareness of the benefits of active travel with pupils in Llanfairpwll.
Engaging pupils in a Dr Bike maintenance session. Credit: G. Thomas.
North East Wales
School: Ysgol Tir Morfa Community Special School
Special Recognition: Including everyone and reducing air pollution
Ysgol Tir Morfa, Rhyl, joined our Active Journeys Programme back in 2018.
Sustrans want to give special recognition to Ysgol Tir Morfa for including everyone in active travel.
We believe that every pupil should have the opportunity to walk, wheel, scoot or cycle, and Ysgol Tir Morfa exemplifies active travel inclusion.
For children and young people with disabilities, changing how to travel to school can be a little more challenging.
Even so, nothing gets in the way of Active Journeys Champion Fran Hoare’s class getting active.
During summer 2022, a multi-use track was built at the Ffordd Derwen site.
This allows for the fleet of adapted cycles, scooters and wheelchairs to be used to help pupils grow in confidence in a safe and secure environment.
They also ditched the minibus since the start of the pandemic, with pupils and teachers choosing to travel actively instead on trips and outings.
Tir Morfa saw a 96% reduction in overall CO2 emissions by decreasing minibus travel, including getting to and from school.
Lastly, inspired by seeing an abandoned bike during a litter pick, the school has started a ReCycles project for pupils to learn bike maintenance.
Pupils from the Post-16 site have achieved their City and Guilds level 1 bike maintenance award, developing skills to enable active travel for others in the future.
The Active Journeys programme has helped support schools all over Wales. Credit: G. Thomas.
Mid and West Wales
School: Ysgol Glannau Gwaun
Special Recognition: Committed to including everyone and thinking outside the box
Ysgol Glannau Gwaun, Pembrokeshire, joined the Active Journeys Programme in October 2020 and have been working with us for the last three years.
Sustrans want to give special recognition to the school for being so committed to including everyone and thinking outside the box.
Active Journeys champion and Deputy Head Teacher Mrs Osborne is dedicated to making sure every pupil can take part in walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling.
One of Sustrans' key values is including everyone, and Ysgol Glannau Gwaun is a perfect example of how this has been made possible.
With support from Sustrans, Mrs Osborne purchased a large fleet of scooters and helmets for pupils at the school.
Not everyone can afford to buy new scooters and bikes, so a fleet of equipment has meant that everyone can be included in the skills workshops run by Sustrans and that everyone can travel to school actively.
Ysgol Glannau Gwaun have participated in Sustrans' Big Walk and Wheel every year since 2020.
During Big Walk and Wheel 2023, Ysgol Glannau Gwaun’s daily average score was an impressive 52%, meaning over half of the pupils travelled to school actively during the challenge.
Pupils enjoying themselves after having travelled actively to school. Credit: Jonathan Bewley.
South Central Wales
School: Tre Uchaf Primary School
Special Recognition: Champion going the extra ‘active’ mile
Tre Uchaf Primary School, Swansea, have been part of the Active Journeys Programme since May 2021, and have been working with us over the last three years.
Sustrans want to give special recognition to Tre Uchaf Primary School’s champion and year 6 teacher, Mr Morgan Civil, for going the extra ‘active’ mile.
Mr Civil has built a bike and scooter storage and workshop on-site for pupils to develop their bike mechanic skills.
Mr Civil also runs a bike club and leads the walking bus.
The bike club have been busy developing their cycle skills as well as their bike maintenance skills with puncture repair sessions.
The bike crew use their skills to support their local Active Journeys Officer, Roger, with Dr Bike events.
Active travel sessions such as safer routes to school, as well as regular bike and scooter skills workshops have been made possible by the support and dedication of champion, Mr Civil.
More recently, the school took part in the Big Walk and Wheel.
The pupils recorded a total of 953 active journeys to school during the 10-day challenge.
Tre Uchaf finished Sustrans’ Big Walk and Wheel competition with their weekly Friday Walking Bus, despite the wind and rain.
Students taking part in a scooter skills session. Credit: Sustrans.
South East Wales
School: Fochriw Primary School
Special Recognition: Whole school community approach to active travel
Fochriw Primary School, Caerphilly, have been a dedicated Active Journeys school on the programme since September 2021.
Sustrans want to give special recognition to the Fochriw Primary for their whole school community approach to encouraging and increasing active travel.
Headteacher Mrs S. Pascoe has been exceptionally supportive in enabling active travel across the whole school.
The pupils' Active Journeys crew have been busy promoting active travel to the rest of the school as well as the wider school community with assemblies and posters.
Pupils at Fochriw have also taken part in Bike to School Week, a Dr Bike maintenance session, a scooter skills workshop, and a safer routes lesson.
Parents have also been key in encouraging the whole school community to walk, wheel, scoot and cycle.
Despite the school being located on top of a hill, the school have taken part in Sustrans' Big Walk and Wheel competition for the last four years.
During this year’s Big Walk and Wheel, Fochriw’s daily average score was an impressive 66.67%, meaning well over half of the pupils travelled to school actively during the challenge.