21 @the_isba Autumn 2021 | Environmental sustainability A lack of trust around public and shared transport (including dedicated school transport), combined with the typically longer home-to- school journeys experienced by independent school pupils, has led to many parents driving their children to school in single-occupancy cars. On top of its impact on traffic congestion, this has a significant effect on schools’ carbon footprint and the air we breathe. As society is placing an ever-greater focus on sustainability, cleaner air and greener initiatives, schools are considering the steps they could take to make their own operations more environmentally-friendly. Up to now, the focus has been mainly on site buildings and infrastructure (lighting, heating etc.) but the daily school run, responsible for approximately a quarter of rush-hour traffic as it stands, must be considered as part of this if we are to avoid a car-led recovery from the pandemic at the expense of our children’s health and wellbeing. Action in this area is made all the more crucial given that estimates from Unicef ( ) suggest that up to two-thirds of the toxic air particulates that children breathe is during school hours, and this can impair health and cognitive development over time. A greener, smarter school run benefits everyone A green goal is a worthy target, but when taken alone it is usually not enough to convince those involved to change their behaviours, or to justify the potential upheaval of overhauling a system with so many moving parts. However, implemented correctly, a greener school run can significantly improve the lives of all involved and result in tangible long-term benefits reaching far beyond simply a lower carbon footprint. • For pupils: The need for schools to adopt greener practices is not lost on pupils, who have directly expressed a desire for their school to do everything it can to prioritise sustainability. When we asked parents from independent schools about their child’s attitudes towards the environment, 68 percent of them ( https://ridekura. com/green-guide/ ) reported that their child was more interested in environmental issues than they were. More tellingly, it was also reported that 54 percent of independent school pupils expressed an active desire for their school to be ‘as green and environmentally-friendly as possible’. Given that this view was actually exceeded by the parents themselves – with 60 percent having the same wish – it is clear that green credentials are rapidly becoming a crucial differentiator when it comes to how attractive an independent school is perceived to be by prospective attendees. There is also the broader benefit that alternative methods of transport tend to be more sociable than car journeys. Using the car, pupils just have their parents and – if they’re lucky – their siblings or a carpooling school friend for company, whereas shared transport and journeys on foot can be organised in groups. Through this, pupils are able to spend more time with their friends and classmates, unwinding and catching up outside of the traditional classroom environment. Particularly given the crippling effect that the past year of lockdowns have had on pupils’ social lives, any way in which schools can facilitate pupils spending time together should be encouraged as a means of furthering pupils’ long-term development. • For parents: Currently, parents directly managing the school run are responsible for endless tears, tantrums and stress-related screaming matches – and that’s just the parents themselves. Our research into the school run ‘parental pain points’ found that more than half (55 percent) of parents at independent schools dislike the school run and wish there was a way to make it easier. Furthermore, 45 percent of parents report that the school run is a regular source of stress or arguments in their household, and a significant 31 percent are frequently late for work or important appointments due to issues with the school run. Racing for the bus home Plotting live journeys

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