Over 500 east London school pupils took to the streets to march against car use near their junior school today.

The protest by children from Manor Junior School in Barking is part of Living Streets’ national campaign, Walk to School Week.

The pupils joined the demonstration to encourage less cars around the school to combat air pollution and childhood obesity. Barking and Dagenham has some of the highest levels of childhood obesity in London.

Clare D’Netto, Headteacher at Manor Junior School said: “This protest sends out a powerful message that cars choke our streets and pollute our air.  If we can encourage more walking to school, we can show our children that small steps can change their lives.”

Ben Tunnicliffe, Eco School coordinator, said: “We have consulted with our school community and found that the vast majority of pupils at Manor Junior School live within a mile of the school, yet nearly half are driven to our school gates. The student-led Eco School Council decided that this needs to change.”

The school has been working closely with Barking and Dagenham Council and Be First, the council’s pioneering regeneration company, to encourage cycling and walking to school and reduce congestion.

Councillor Evelyn Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement said: “It is important for our young people to be as active as possible and walking to school is an easy win for us all.”

Nick Davies, Transport Manager for Be First said: “It’s often said children are the champions of change so today’s march by Manor Junior sent a powerful message across London that it’s cool to walk to school.”