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Gatwick School impresses Leader of Council as it continues to grow

The Leader of Crawley Borough Council, Councillor, Peter Lamb, paid a visit to The Gatwick School in Crawley recently to see first-hand the progress of one of Crawley’s newest schools.

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Operated by Aurora Academies Trust, The Gatwick School caters for students aged 4-16 and it began life as a free school in 2014 with only 44 children on roll.

Just 4 years later there are over 650 students and the school has waiting lists for places. Councillor Lamb was keen to see why the school has become so popular and he was not disappointed!

Visits to classrooms were organised and led by some of the student councillors including the Head Girl and Boy from both the primary and secondary phases.

Councillor Lamb was extremely impressed with the standards of teaching and learning throughout the school and commented on the high quality learning environment and the engagement in lessons, particularly noting one English lesson in which students were actively involved in constructing a reasoned argument, a skill needed by politicians at all levels!

Head of School, Mark Roessler said:

“This was a great opportunity for us to host the visit of the Leader of the Council and it was very definitely a two-way meeting: Councillor Lamb was able to see the high quality of education on offer and our students also got the chance to question him about his job and his vision for the town. He more than held his own in that exchange and replied very professionally to all the questions thrown at him!”.

Aurora’s Director of Education and Executive Head Paul Reilly said:

“In our first inspection we were rated by Ofsted as being Good with some Outstanding features and that has really helped cement our reputation in the community. We were thrilled that Councillor Lamb gave us so much of his time and showed such interest in seeing how the school has developed”.

Councillor Lamb later added:

“This was my first visit to the school since its opening. It’s great to see how things have developed over those last four years and there were a number of pleasant surprises for me in the way subjects are being tackled at the school. I look forward to seeing how The Gatwick School continues to grow and take shape over the years to come.”

Aurora’s CEO Tim McCarthy concluded:

“Aurora Academies Trust is very proud of The Gatwick School and everything that has been achieved here and we believe that we have delivered on the promise we gave to Crawley Borough Council from the outset that we would provide a great education for children and families in this area. We are delighted that Councillor Lamb has been able to see this for himself”.

Education

Crawley pupils reduce local CO2 by Three Tonnes

In just two weeks Crawley school children reduced local air pollution by six kilogrammes of dangerous nitrogen oxide (NOx) and almost three tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) by walking, biking and scootering to school, instead of travelling by car.

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Pupils at Waterfield Primary School with Councillor Geraint Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability and Patrick Alexander, Bike It Officer at Sustrans.

As part of cycling and walking charity Sustrans’ annual Big Pedal challenge, children from eight Crawley schools used human power for an astonishing 18,284 journeys. 

This comes hard on the heels of two important new pieces of research:

  • Sustrans published YouGov data in March which showed that almost two-thirds (63%) of teachers would support a school gate vehicle ban during drop-off and pick-up times and that more than half (59%) want urgent Government action to improve air quality near schools
  • Public Health England called on local authorities in March to limit transport emissions urgently, banning idling car engines around schools and investing in foot and cycle paths.

NOx can cause breathing problems, reduced lung function and damage teeth. CO2 is a major contributor to climate change. In Crawley children travelled 12,655 miles actively during the challenge, which equates to travelling almost half way around the world. The reduction in CO2 and NOx was calculated by comparing this to the amount generated if all these journeys had been taken by car.

Councillor Geraint Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability, said:

“It is fantastic to see an increasing number of schools in Crawley taking part in the Sustrans Big Pedal, whilst promoting sustainable travel to young people.”

Children at Waterfield Primary have won special recognition from Sustrans for their Big Pedal achievements, receiving a certificate in a presentation attended by Cllr Geraint Thomas. The Bike It Crew at Waterfield Primary are notoriously competitive. They held a Bike It Breakfast, Bling your Bike and daily assemblies to mass up a total of 4,386 journeys and a total score of 76.91%. 

Justin Moss, the Deputy Head of Waterfield Primary said,

“Our pupils are so motivated when it comes to travelling sustainably; they’re also very competitive. They walk, scoot and cycle regularly so the Big Pedal has been amazing for us over the past few years. We regularly talk about the benefits of exercise with the children in whole school assemblies and because of this the children understand the differences it can make to their moods and their ability to engage in their learning.

“At Waterfield we have an elected Bike It Crew and the Big Pedal is their biggest job during the year. They have worked tirelessly to encourage teachers and children to continue to travel sustainably as well as organising events and judging the Bling your Bike competition. I am extremely proud of them and all of their achievements this year.”

Hot on their heels was Seymour Primary, who organised Bike Days for all children from years three to six. These days provided an opportunity for children to progress their bike skills and have a go on the bike obstacle course. On these days the school was flooded with bicycles, scooters and active children.

Across Crawley eight schools took part, from a potential 35. While we can’t say what the impact would be if it was replicated across Crawley even just for two school terms these findings raise interesting questions.

Sustrans’ Regional Director for the South, James Cleeton, said,

“The children, families and schools of Crawley have shown how individuals can dramatically improve the world around them, by replacing cars with human power for just part of the daily routine.

“These children haven’t just prevented the emission of dangerous, invisible pollutants around their schools, but they’ve improved their mental and physical health, giving all of them a better start to the school day.

“At Sustrans, we’re so grateful to every local authority, school, teacher, parent and child who has helped make this possible. What a great start to summer – and a glimpse of what school mornings in Crawley could be like in future.”

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