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Rotherham school scoops national Active Travel Award

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Posted 18th December 2020

Brookfield Junior Academy in Swinton has been recognised as the ‘National Modeshift STARS Primary School of the Year’, thanks to their commitment to sustainable and active travel since 2017.

The Department for Transport (DfT) joined the Modeshift STARS Team to announce their success at the Modeshift STARS Education National Celebration on Friday the 4th of December.

Due to current public health restrictions, the Modeshift STARS Team took this year’s event online to provide a fun and engaging event for twelve 2020 STARS Schools of the Region and their local authorities. Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Minister for State (Department for Transport) joined the event via video to congratulate all the schools for their hard work in reaching the National Awards and thanked them for their contributions for promoting sustainable and active travel in their communities.

Brookfield Junior Academy’s ability to excel in promoting sustainable travel earned them a Gold Modeshift STARS award last year, which helped to secure their title of “Yorkshire and Humber School of the Year” in November 2019. The school signed up to the Sustainable Travel Accreditation and Recognition Scheme (STARS) in September 2017 and by the summer of 2019 had reduced the percentage of pupils normally travelling to school by car from 35% to 10% over that period.

Sustainable travel has been embraced throughout the entire school community; staff have worked collaboratively with colleagues, parents, governors, ward councillors and their local MP to support walking, scooting and cycling. With help from the STARS South Yorkshire team, Rotherham Council, local businesses and other outside agencies, the school has improved road safety outside the school gates, improved the health and wellbeing of pupils and reduced traffic, air pollution and harmful greenhouse gases as more pupils choose to walk, scoot or cycle to school.

Eunice Newton, the CEO of Aston Community Education Trust said: “The ACET family are delighted with the announcement that Brookfield Junior Academy have won the ‘National Modeshift STARS Primary School of the Year Award’; it is a fantastic achievement which recognises the commitment and determination of pupils, staff and parents/carers to work together to accomplish a positive outcome for the Swinton community. Our thanks must go to Andrea Liversidge, the former Principal of Brookfield Junior Academy who invested time and energy in prioritising this initiative with her staff in order to promote active and sustainable travel for all pupils. Andrea Smith, who led as the STARS active travel champion at the school also deserves a special mention. This award epitomises what can be achieved when a community comes together. Thank you to everyone involved in Brookfield’s success!”

The STARS South Yorkshire team work closely with the school; supporting dozens of initiatives that empower pupils to travel actively and sustainably to school. Walk to school events, Dr bike cycle safety checks, puncture repair workshops, scooter skills sessions, cycle skills training, classroom activities, led bike rides, pupil-led parking campaigns and initiatives such as the 10 Day Active Travel challenge have all been hugely well received by pupils and parents.

Modeshift STARS Active Travel Officer for Rotherham, Dom Qaiser-Sweeting said: “We are extremely proud to see Brookfield Junior Academy become national award winners. On average around 46% of primary school pupils are being driven to school every day across England. To see car journeys to school fall from 35% to just 10% within a couple of years explains why they deserve the award. The school is a shining example of how the whole community, both inside and outside school, can work collaboratively together to change the way we travel for the health and wellbeing of young people and the local area. The ACET trust have engaged extremely well in STARS and we are likely to see even more of their schools achieve Silver and Gold accreditation in the new year. Watch this space!”

Swinton ward councillors (Cllr Cusworth, Cllr Wyatt and Cllr Sansome) have supported a range of road safety initiatives at the school and also provided the school with scooters that they can use in the playground for future initiatives. Swinton Ward Councillor, Victoria Cusworth, said: “This is fantastic news for all students, parents and staff at Brookfield Junior Academy who have been working hard to get active. The initiative was started by the Governing Body during the time that I was chair of governors. Everyone at the school has embraced sustainable travel and deserve to be recognised nationally for their dedication. To see the amount of car journeys fall by so much is a credit to the commitment of all those involved over the past few years. They are an example to schools, not just locally but across the country as well.”

Councillor, Stuart Sansome, added: “Rotherham Council is very supportive of cycling and walking and is involved in a number of initiatives to encourage more children and adults to find active ways to travel to school, work and for leisure. Not only is cycling and walking better for your physical and mental health, but better for the environment and it makes our borough a more pleasant place to live. Just small changes to your routine can make a big difference. It’s amazing to see what the children and staff at Brookfield Junior Academy, with support of partners, have achieved. They are an inspiration to us all!”

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