Two primary schools in Hackney have been selected for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s first “air quality audits”.
William Patten and De Beauvoir are among 50 schools taking part in the pilot, which aims to identify ways of protecting children from toxic fumes in the capital’s most polluted areas.
The audits are to be completed by the end of the year, with final reports to be published by the Greater London Assembly (GLA) by March 2018.
Recommendations could include moving entrances and play areas, reducing car idling during the school run and planting greenery along busy roads nearby.
Craig Porteous, William Patten’s deputy headteacher, said the audit is a “wonderful opportunity” to ensure all is being done to protect pupils.
A report last year revealed the school was one of 27 in Hackney where levels of dirty air breached EU limits.
Porteous praised parents and staff for their hard work in response to the findings, which he says has helped the school win selection for the first air quality audit.
Explaining what will happen during the pilot, he added: “The audit will focus on the streets around the primary school but the auditors will also review conditions within the primary school building and grounds.
“The issues identified will be examined in depth to identify and work towards potential solution. The day will also involve an interactive emissions awareness raising talk at the school during a special assembly.”
Porteous revealed the school has already submitted a planning application for a trellis to be installed along the wall on Church Street, which will then be covered with ivy.
He said: “Ivy screens are known to be effective at stopping some pollution coming into playgrounds by acting as a barrier and by absorbing some of the pollution through its leaves.
“The pupils will also benefit through raised awareness and will develop their understanding of alternate routes to the school which carry less exposure to air pollutants.”
Local London Assembly Member Jennette Arnold welcomed the involvement of two primary schools in the borough, saying: “There is a lot of evidence showing that air quality can have a long-term detrimental impact on the health of our children.
“It’s great to see that the Mayor is taking genuine steps to tackle the impact of toxic air on children in Hackney, and I hope this audit is just the start.”
If the pilot is successful, Khan hopes local councils will take the lead and audit every school located in an area of high pollution.