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On Thursday 16 June our school community joined together to promote National Clean Air Day.

Activities included a Y10 DTE air monitoring exercise; a London Schools Eco Network Sustainability Conference for schools; green-pledges from Highgate pupils and parents, and a welcome committee for Senior School cyclists to celebrate their eco-friendly travel choice.

Clean Air Day
Cyclists were rewarded with a pastry at the school gates

Over 100 people pledged to avoid car-travel on 16 June, which had a notable affect on air pollution readings. Year 10 pupils worked together in the DTE Department to assemble Dyson-developed instruments to monitor air pollution across two days (15 and 16 June), to note any variance. Pupils took readings in five key locations around the three schools during peak morning travel. Unsurprisingly, they recorded a significant drop in levels of gases (Volatile Organic Compounds and Polluting gases) and particulate matter on Clean Air Day, demonstrating how much of a difference it can make if the whole community pulls together to tackle a serious issue.

Dyson Air Pollution monitor
A pupil monitors local air pollution

Highgate Biology Teacher, Jenny Chapman, led a London Schools Eco Network Sustainability Conference at Highgate, welcoming over forty school representatives from across the capital to share ideas and best practice for embedding sustainable values within their schools.

Jenny explains: “We’re seeing more and more schools take sustainability really seriously in their culture, their estates and their educational offering. Bringing staff together like this allows for us all to share our expertise and ideas and the ripple effects are huge. There was a fantastically collaborative atmosphere at the CPD day, with a packed schedule of talks about everything from engaging senior leadership, embedding sustainability in all aspects of the curriculum, recognising and managing eco anxiety, running environmental inset and quantifying carbon footprints in schools. With the impacts of climate and ecological crises being felt by us all it was inspiring to see so many staff dedicated to making a real difference in their schools.”

One conference attendee said: “I’m enormously grateful to Highgate and Jenny and her colleagues for organising such a special day full of epic and highly practical and useful talks and a chance to network with others in the same boat but at different stages”.

Sustainability conference
Over 40 school representatives gathered at Highgate to discuss sustainable values

Ahead of National Clean Air Day, we encouraged our school community to make eco-friendly pledges, and think about anything else they can do to reduce air pollution around the school. Some of the excellent feedback included: more education for parents about the dangers and illegality of idling; more frequent leafletting to discourage drop-off/pick-up right outside school; and install a visible air pollution meter outside school to display real-time information about air quality, which is already in the pipeline.

Our dedicated Senior School Environment Committee were keen to play their part, providing a welcome committee at the School gates to celebrate pupils and staff arriving by bike and raise awareness of the campaign.