Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh received their Green Flag for Travel in May 2016. The school is a mixed secondary school located in the heart of Limerick City. In excess of 500 students attend the school. The school is a Gaelscoil which means they have a wide catchment area with some students travelling from as far as Kilkee and Tipperary.
Step 1: Green-Schools Committee
The Green-Schools committee is open to any student that is interested in participating and helping to join. Each year a representative from each year is encouraged, but this is not always possible. An AGM is held at the start of the year to discuss different roles and different pupils are elected to different jobs. The committee meets after school to ensure as many students can attend.
Step 2: Environmental Review
A baseline travel survey was carried out in the school by the Green-Schools Travel Education Officer to establish the current travel patterns to and from the school. The results of the survey showed that the majority of the students travelled by car to school at 72%. The second largest travel mode was park and stride at 11%. Mapping workshops were carried out to find out which were the most popular routes to school and to see whether some of the students who travel by car could use more sustainable modes. The results of the mapping workshops showed that the school has a very large catchment area with students travelling large distances to the school. Following the mapping walkability audits of six routes were carried out to help identify possible park and stride locations that could be promoted for students to use. Six routes were chosen as there is a number of different ways of getting to the school.
Step 3: Action Plan
The Green-Schools committee prepared an action plan which included a number of ways to promote sustainable modes of transport. This plan was tailored to suit the school. As a mixed secondary school a fun element was included to get more support from the students. A school car free day and park and stride promotion was two of the early actions. The school car free day included a member of the GS committee dressing up in costume to help promote the day. This added to the day and made it memorable and unique. Key national events were included in the action plan as a way of getting the whole school to engage with the programme. Regular WOW days were a feature of the action plan. Other actions included; Dr. Bike workshops, awareness raising workshops, CSPE travel projects, Halfords bike maintenance workshops, big travel challenge and national walk to school week promotion. Whole school actions which are memorable are key ingredient of success in a secondary school.
Step 4: Monitoring and Evaluation
The GS committee monitor and evaluate the programme through ongoing surveys. These surveys are analysed and displayed on the GS notice board which is in the school canteen. These surveys have shown a large increase in the numbers who park and stride to school up from 11% to 50%. Walking numbers have doubled from 6% to 12%. It has proven successful to share the positive results with the whole school, as it shows students that their hard work is paying off. The GS committee also monitor the number of students who participate in regular WOW and COW days by giving raffle tickets to each student who take part. A draw for small prizes is then held for the students who participate as an added incentive.
Steps 5 & 7 Curriculum Work and Green Code
The Green-Schools work is incorporated as much as possible into the curriculum. The woodwork class made don’t park here models during class. They were then painted during art class. These models are used to discourage bad parking practice near the school. The green codes were developed during class and made into posters during art class. The green codes were then displayed throughout the school so the travel message was spread through the whole school. In geography classes the causes of greenhouse gases and environmental pollution were covered and solutions to prevent climate change were discusses.
Step 6: Informing and Involving
The Green-Schools committee informs the school community using various mediums. These include the Green-Schools notice board, class announcements and notices through the intercom when required. Various communication methods is very important in the school as it operates over three campuses.