Hear from Active Champions from The Ridge Junior School!
Interview with Active Travel Champions: The Ridge Junior School, STARS Local Authority Primary School of the Year 2023/2024
Image – Beverley Furbur: The Ridge Junior School
We spoke to Beverley Furber from The Ridge Junior School, who were recently awarded STARS Local Authority Primary School of the Year 2023/24, South Gloucestershire Council
Why did you get involved with travel plans and stars?
‘As a school we knew it was necessary to reduce the amount of cars coming to the school site. The Ridge is on an estate with a single entrance and exit which leads to the road where The Ridge Junior is positioned, beside its neighbouring infant school. This road then leads to two concentric circles, which are residential except for a rank of shops. All the extra traffic must leave the estate via a traffic light-controlled junction, leading to queues of traffic. Parking is difficult as some residents park on the road or do not want driveways blocked. We added this to the school development plan, and sought help from the South Gloucestershire Road Safety team, to formulate a travel plan.’
The Local Authority contact is Catherine McCoy, who we are delighted to announce has joined the Modeshift Board as STARS Focus Group lead for Education and SEND groups. Catherine immediately recommended Modeshift Stars and plans went quickly from there.
Image: Catherine McCoy
What do the children and staff like doing best?
‘We have greatly reduced the number of cars coming to the site, and vastly increased sustainable methods of travel. Our latest survey shows cars have reduced overall by 9% for children and 20.8% for staff .We have increased green methods of travel by 4.61% for children and 14.8% for staff. We achieved our Very Good Travel Plan award very quickly, and in just over a year achieved our Excellent Travel Plan. We have used funding to change entrances to school, including a bike gate, and had our planning changes to the outside pavements, including dropped kerbs and removal of the grass verge. This enlarged the area of shared path needed to accommodate the increase in families walking, cycling and scooting.
The thing that engages the children most of all are the initiatives, especially the Golden Lock on bikes and scooters, or Golden tickets for park and striding.
We have active travel tickets for staff who travel actively, which are entered into a draw and awarded in assembly. This has helped to show children that staff are also travelling actively when they can.
What’s next for your school, and what else would you like to achieve?
We have now achieved an Outstand Travel Plan accreditation in just over two years. We want to continue to reduce traffic and increase active sustainable travel. We have changed the street scene and fencing outside the school, with the help of parents, local councilors and the perseverance of Andy and Catherine. This benefits the whole community. This was finished before the start of term one this school year. We will continue to try to make the journey to and from school safer. There are still more cars at pick up than drop off and we would like to tackle this. We are also Federating with our neighbouring infant school. Hopefully we will now be able to pass on the benefits of our Active travel plan and encourage them to start their own journey in school.
Any advice to encourage other schools to get involved with Modeshift Stars?
You don’t have anything to lose, and the whole community has a lot to gain. I have already advised a school in Batley, Yorkshire, to join Modeshift Stars, to help with their travel plan. They need help to encourage children and families from a built up urban area, to walk cycle and travel actively for health reasons as some of the children need more encouragement to exercise. Catherine helped immediately by providing the name of their local council contact involved with Modeshift.
Traffic and pollution is an ever present problem. Parents worry about children travelling actively because of perceived danger of cars but each child travelling actively means there is one less car on the road, so collectively, we all win!’