Celebrations as Northumberland school named one of the best in the UK for active sustainable travel

28 Apr 2022

Pupils at Stannington First School received an adrenaline-fuelled treat in recognition of their commitment to walk, cycle or scoot to school.
Record-breaking bike stunt team 3SIXTY wowed children and staff as they celebrated becoming the first school in the North East and one of a handful nationally to achieve the Modeshift STARS platinum award – the scheme’s highest honour.
Presenting the award, Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member for local services, said: “This award is very well-deserved as Stannington First School has been doing amazing things since they started on their STARS journey.
“They’ve shown a huge commitment in achieving each of the accreditation levels and seen the benefits for their school and the local community by reducing traffic, improving road safety and air quality while helping everyone get a little bit fitter and healthier every day.
“They are leading the way regionally and nationally and are a true inspiration to us all.
“We hope they enjoyed this special treat today and well done everyone.”

Modeshift STARS is a national awards scheme recognising schools, businesses and other organisations that have shown excellence in supporting cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable and active travel.
Since signing up for the scheme in 2019, cycling has become a key part of school life, with the headteacher pledging that every child will be able to ride a bike by the time they leave the school.
Among the 60 initiatives delivered so far are a bike track on their school field, where pupils can hone their skills as well as new bike and scooter storage facilities and pool bikes.
Three members of staff have been trained to take pupils out on bike rides and throughout the year they enjoy lots of different activities, including treasure trails around the village to encourage everyone to Park and Stride to school. 
The school is also a keen supporter of Northumberland County Council’s Big Gear Change campaign which encourages residents to make small lifestyle changes to make a big impact on both health and the environment.
Headteacher, Alexandra Palmer, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive our Modeshift Platinum Award and this was a fantastic way to celebrate the commitment and enthusiasm undertaken by the whole school community to make a positive change.
“Working with our local community, we have considerably reduced traffic congestion at the school gates, which has made the area safer and cleaner. 
“We have identified a walking zone around our school with two designated ‘Park and Stride’ areas for those who can’t travel actively for the whole journey and engagement with active travel means the vast majority of our pupils arrive at school energised and ready to learn; it’s a really positive start to the school day.
“These initiatives have been well supported by children and their parents and we have recently installed a cycling track on the school site so that all pupils can learn to ride safely and with confidence. It is our aim that all pupils will learn to cycle as an important life skill and also develop an understanding of why we need to consider active and sustainable travel where possible.”
The display from the 3SIXTY team was a hit with pupils too.

“My favourite part was when they jumped up the ladder. I was a bit scared they were going to hurt themselves, but they still did it and I believed in them. You just have to believe in yourself to cycle.” – Zach, Year 4. 
“Today was exciting because we got to see people doing stunts and tricks that one day we might want to do too. I’m really happy that we’ve got this award as we’ve worked really hard for it.” Ellie, Year 4. 
 “I like cycling because it makes you fit and feel better inside. I like park and striding as it makes you happy because it gives you a chance to walk to school. I liked the stunts and how they showed me how to get better at cycling.” Isla P, Year 4.  
Find out more about the difference walking and cycling is making at the school here.

Every school in Northumberland has the opportunity to register and plan sustainable travel initiatives to achieve their Modeshift STARS award. Schools can reach five levels: green, bronze, silver and gold and platinum. Schools interested can find out more here. 

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