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Parent Governor, Rowan Hall, explains how the #GoGoGreen campaign was delivered and what the early outcomes have been.

Our beautiful living green wall, which stretches the 60 metre perimeter of our school playground, is the culmination of a project which began in 2017 and has involved the whole school community and more than 50 organisations and businesses across the city.

In September 2018 our school partnered with the University of Sheffield Department of Landscape Architecture after we learnt that monthly averages of Nitrogen Dioxide levels in our playground had exceeded World Health Organisation guidelines twice in two years.

This is not an uncommon story for inner city-schools in Sheffield but our Head Teacher and staff team didn’t want to be complacent – they wanted to take action. Thanks to the special collaboration with the University of Sheffield, our school became the case study for PhD student María del Carmen Redondo Bermúdez and the Breathe Project research. Funded by the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, this study looks at school playground air quality before and after the construction of a living green pollution barrier.

The wonderful Maria has been taking daily measurements of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5) from our school playground since April 2019.

With six month’s data compiled prior to the construction of the living green wall, Maria will continue to monitor the air quality to understand the impact it has had on critical pollutants. The study will be published in 2021 and will consider the role of green barriers in combating air pollution, as well as their impact on the happiness and wellbeing levels of children, families and staff. We have much to say on this latter point. Watch the below video to  learn what parents, teachers and children had to say after volunteers installed the first layer of Ivy Screens around our playground.

The #GoGoGreen campaign launched publicly in March 2019 with this corporate donor pack and this video.

An early relationship formed with Sheffield Business Together in March 2019 led to key introductions to Henry Boot and Arup which supercharged the pre-planting groundworks project in the summer break of 2019.

Since inception in 2017 over 50 businesses and organisations from across the city have supported the #GoGoGreen campaign, offering in-kind services, funds and partnerships essential to its delivery. A combination of fundraising led by our incredible Home School Association and supported by the whole school community, private donations and corporate sponsorship, raised the £20,000 needed for materials, services and plants. The project has also received over £54,000 of in-kind services from businesses donating their time, tools and expertise for free.

In October 2019 teams of awesome volunteers planted 50 ivy screens and over 240 plants in a series of well-attended planting parties.

The final living green wall was designed by Maria and Steve Frazer from Urban Wilderness, and the plants in front of the Ivy Screens were supplied by Johnsons of Whixley and chosen because of their ability to reflect, trap and absorb air pollutants.

On 4 November 2019 we publicly launched our living green pollution barrier with the aim of thanking the many, many people, businesses and organisations that had generously supported our #GoGoGreen campaign.

Our ambition is that we can continue to work with Maria and the University of Sheffield to use the research data and learning from the #GoGoGreen project to feed into a toolkit that can support other schools interested in similar schemes. There is already a great appetite from Sheffield Business Together and their cooperative of businesses to support schools in the region looking to green their playgrounds, and needing support to do so.

The accompanying educational programme delivered by the school team and volunteer families continues. Outdoor lessons in our new green playground, travel to school initiatives, environmental, health and wellbeing activities are fundamental to the school’s ethos and we are lucky to have the support of many families who work with the school team to help engage children in this. Thanks to some of our musical families, the children have even been learning their own #GoGoGreen song about travelling to school on sustainable transport (the lyrics are obvioulsy more catchy than that but you get the idea).

We would like to thank everyone that has supported the #GoGoGreen campaign; from the school office team who became landscape procurers, to the children that helped collect air quality data, the parents that became planters, and businesses that became donors. It’s been a community effort and we would love the benefits to reach far and wide.

UPDATE: September 2020

We are proud to announce that we have been shortlisted for TWO awards this week!

Catherine Carr, headteacher, and  Hunters Bar Infant School’s #GoGoGreen Campaign have been shortlisted in two TES Awards categories – Environmental Champion of the Year and Community and Collaboration Award.


Would you like to learn more?

As well as print and broadcast coverage #GoGoGreen has inspired a number of online articles and presentations, which you can view here:

Head Teacher Catherine Carr

“Our school has a long history of being proactive when it comes to environmental initiatives and advocating the health and wellbeing benefits of green spaces. We have an active eco team in the school and fantastic support from parents who are championing the vision to green our school playground. We are very proud to be working with the University of Sheffield on this research and being part of real change for children. I’m thankful for all the support we have received so far from children, parents and carers, staff, others schools and partners in Sheffield.”

Maria del Carmen Redondo Bermúdez

PhD researcher Maria del Carmen Redondo Bermúdez, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape Architecture and the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures.

“Different plants have different capacities to reduce air pollution, depending on the characteristics of their leaves and bark. By using a mix of plant types – trees, shrubs, climbers and herbaceous perennials – we will try to cover all the mechanisms for pollution mitigation. Planted together they will form a barrier against the wind that brings contaminants to the playground.”

Professor Anna Jorgensen

Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture, Professor Anna Jorgensen.
“If we can show that our green barrier makes a positive difference to air quality and children’s health and wellbeing there’s great potential to involve other schools locally, nationally and internationally. We are already working with a team in Buenos Aires, Argentina to develop the idea there.”