Graphic showing children in a green triangle with the words School Streets

Islington’s School Streets create cleaner, greener, healthier school run

Islington’s pioneering School Streets have helped children enjoy a cleaner, greener, and healthier school run, new monitoring data has revealed.     

A report on 13 of Islington’s School Streets reveals how they have so far fulfilled the objectives of the School Streets programme, contributing to a reduction in air pollution, an improvement in safety by reducing traffic and speeds, and have helped children to exercise on their way to and from school.    

School Streets are a key part of the council’s vision for a more equal borough, where toxic air pollution is a thing of the past and where all can travel easily around the borough. They also help improve learning, with a study suggesting that active travel such as walking, cycling or scooting can increase a child’s concentration by four hours.    

They work by preventing motor vehicles, other than those with exemptions, from using streets outside schools during drop-off and pick-up times. In doing so, they make it safer and easier for children to walk, cycle and scoot to school.     

In September 2020, Islington Council introduced 13 School Streets as 18-month trials, as part of wider efforts to create people-friendly streets. Public consultations on these 13 schemes have now started to help decide if they should be made permanent, changed, or removed. These consultations will run until Sunday, 24 October.    

To help children, parents, teachers, residents and local businesses participate in the public consultations, the council has released monitoring data for these 13 School Streets. The figures – which have been published in full on the council’s website – reveal:    

  • Children have enjoyed cleaner air, with nitrogen dioxide levels falling outside all 13 schools between January 2020 and June 2021
  • Even after taking the impact of Covid-19 on transport into account, there was a reduction in traffic within the school streets zones between August 2020 and July 2021 of 50% during the morning school run, and by 39% during afternoon pick-up times
  • Streets were safer, with traffic speeds falling on 10 School Streets and remaining the same on three
  • At Thornhill Primary School, there was an 11% rise in the number of pupils walking, cycling and scooting to school between May 2019 and August 2021, with the proportion of children travelling by car falling from 17% to 8% during the same period.  

Today also marks the publication of Islington’s annual air quality report, which shows how air pollution levels fell outside all schools where data was available between 2019 and 2020.  

The report also shows that all 74 of the monitoring sites outside schools read below the legal air pollution limit of 40 µg/m3 – reflecting the positive impact of Islington’s School Streets and people-friendly streets programmes. 

Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “We all have a role to play in tackling the climate emergency, and something as simple as leaving the car at home to walk, cycle or scoot to school makes a huge difference, and improves children’s physical and mental health.    

“Our ambitious School Streets programme is a key part of our vision for a more people-friendly, equal Islington where children can travel to school without the toxic effects of air pollution, and where streets are safer for walking, cycling and scooting.  

“The monitoring data from the 13 trial schemes that we are currently consulting on reflects the positive impacts of the programme in making the school run cleaner, greener and healthier. Local people are at the heart of everything we do, and we’re looking forward to hearing feedback on School Streets in their area.”    

A total of 35 School Streets, covering 36 schools, have been introduced in Islington. In November 2020, Healthy Streets Scorecard revealed that, when taking into account planned and installed schemes, Islington had the highest proportion of schools on Schools Streets of any London borough.    

In 2020, 22 of Islington’s 35 School Streets were introduced in 2020 as 18-month trials, of which 13 are currently open to public consultation. Public consultations on the remaining nine trial schemes will be announced in due course.    

Notes to editors

Notes to editors     

The 13 schools that will be subject to consultation from today, and which are mentioned in the monitoring report, are as follows: Blessed Sacrament RC Primary School, Gillespie Primary School, Gower School, Hargrave Park Primary School, St John's Highbury Vale, St Jude and St Paul, St Mary’s C of E Primary School, St. Andrew’s C of E Primary School, St. Mary Magdalene Academy, Thornhill Primary, Tufnell Park Primary School, Vittoria Primary School, Whitehall Park School.     

Traffic figures in the monitoring report have been adjusted using Transport for London data to account for the significant impact of Covid-19 on transport and travel behaviour. Further information on this process, which has been independently peer-reviewed, can be found in the report itself.    

Media contact information

If you are a member of the media and would like more information please contact:

Islington Council media team – media@islington.gov.uk or 020 7527 2307.  Out of hours: 07769 163303

If you are a member of the public with a general question about the council please contact:

Access Islington – www.islington.gov.uk/contact-us or 020 7527 2000