Robert Clack School L-R Emile Zubkute, Victoria Spashett, Mrs Ellen Monk and Angel Omoregie

Students from Becontree Heath schools are asking parents to switch off their engines if they have to drop off their children by car as part of a campaign to make the local environment cleaner and safer.

The schools and students are encouraging parents to make a ‘Parkwise Pledge’ to turn off idling engines, to be considerate about where and how they park, and also to make one trip on foot or by bike each week.

Alice Carroll, Deputy Head, at Grafton School, explains: “It would be fantastic if all of our pupils and staff could walk or cycle to school, but we know for some it is necessary to come by car. For these families, we are asking them to make the Parkwise Pledge. We hope it will create a safer, more pleasant environment for our pupils, their families, neighbouring residents, and all other road users.”

In addition to learning about the Parkwise Pledge, pupils at nearby Robert Clack Lower School participated in a street design workshop. This involved learning about different design models, observing collection time at their school and discussing possible ways forward. They also took part in the consultation on proposed changes to Tenterden Road, which many pupils felt is crowded and unsafe.

Year 8 student Emile Zubkute said: “It’s nice to see people working hard to make the school a safe place to be and an enjoyable environment.”

And, Angel Omoregie said: “The workshop was interesting because we could go out and speak to students coming out of school and ask them about their experience of traffic in the local area. The workshop was good because it explained everything and how the area will be improved.”

Victoria Spashett, Be First Project Manager for Becontree Heath Low Emission Neighbourhood, said: “Around 150 balloon’s worth of polluting gases are churned out a minute by idling engines. So, our message to drivers is simple – cut out the smoke – it makes us choke!”

During the morning peak, one in four cars on the road are on the school run and a YouGov poll in 2018 found that more than two-fifths of UK children in urban areas are concerned about air pollution near their school.

The Parkwise Pledge and walking and cycling promotion is part of the Greening the Fiddlers, Becontree Heath Low Emission Neighbourhood.