Healthy and Sustainable School Travel – Actions for Zero-carbon Eco-healthy Schools

Ben Whittaker
Ben Whittaker • 28 November 2023

Project completed as part of the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTM UHB) and Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Intensive Sustainable Innovation Group Scholar Programme

Scholar: Dr Esther Tobarra-Sanchez

Nearly one in three children in CTM UHB are overweight or obese (29.3%) and this is a high rate within Wales (and noting Wales has one of the highest prevalence of obesity in the UK). lt is also important to note that CTM UHB serves an area with a high “Index of Multiple Deprivation” with limited affordability and resources. 

Children who actively travel to school can meet between 25-35% of their recommended amount of physical activity per school day, and therefore, the declining figures for Active School Travel feel like a lost opportunity in this context. Also, routines established during childhood will influence adult behaviour and habits.

The ultimate aim of this project was to encourage School Communities and the Cwm Taf Public Services Board (PSB) to introduce policies that increase “Eco-Healthy School Travel” and focus on children as leaders and facilitators of change.  The task was to contribute to this delivery plan locally by:
1) collating information to create a behaviourally-informed framework for achieving the co-benefits of “Healthy and Sustainable School Travel”.
2) creating a package of multiagency practical guidance to support Schools, Local Authorities and other stakeholders to bring change through their strategic and investment decisions, better informed influencing and advocacy, enhanced partnerships and project design at a local level.

Method / Approach:
1. Literature Review; Stakeholder analysis and liaison; Field work experience; Project definition
2. Tailored writing of a “Local Multiagency Policy document"; Brief “Step by step Toolkit document” for schools with guidance to overcome obstacles and signposted tools and resources; “Charter of Commitments” for Schools and Local Authorities to encourage change; Behavioural science-informed “framework” for implementing and assessing the co-benefits of Eco-healthy School Travel initiatives.
3. Engagement Exercise – Brief questionnaire to Headteachers disseminated through Directors of Education to identify local priorities and current actions, SWOT analysis of perceptions of barriers and needs; Consultation feedback of documents from CORE GROUP. Dissemination of improved and corrected version of documents to stakeholders

Resources produced during the scholarship aimed at the PSB and local Schools included a local framework and a proposed charter.

Summary of framework: