Whitehall Junior School has been part of the A*STARS Programme (Active Sustainable Travel And Road Safety) for the last two years.
Shabina Afzal , from Walsall Council’s Traffic Safety & Operation Team, has been working closely with Bev Simpson and the rest of the school staff to ensure Road Safety and Sustainable Travel initiatives are included in the curriculum. As a result of this partnership, Whitehall was one of the top performing A*STAR School in the 2014/15 academic year, achieving an A*STARS silver award. These efforts also showed a marked improvement in the schools travel statistics in 2014/15, with 68.5% of pupils using active travel (walking, cycling or scooting) up by 9.9% on the 2013/14 results. Car use also dropped by 8.8% over the same period!
Through the Schools A*STARS Action Plan, concerns were raised about drivers not observing the zebra crossing correctly. This was assessed against other school requests and was successful in receiving funding for a ‘Safer Route to School’ scheme in 2015/16. A scheme was developed, which included upgrading the existing zebra crossing for new LED lights, which use less energy, create less light pollution and, most importantly, are more visible to drivers (during the day and night). Other improvements include buff coloured ‘high friction surfacing’ on the approach to the zebra, to make drivers aware of the crossing, and new school “gateways” with red coloured surfacing and new school signs to create a “safe school zone”.
All road marking along Delves Road have also been remarked as part of the scheme and Civil Enforcement Officers will be patrolling to ensure drivers adhere to the parking restrictions. Adam Cross, Senior Engineer, who coordinated the works said “The scheme has been well received by the school and residents it has really made the zebra crossing stand out, which was the main aim of the scheme. It is important to remember that highway improvements do help to make areas around schools safer but parents also have their part to play by parking sensibly, or even better, leaving the car at home all together!”