A Galway secondary school is Ireland’s new Travel School of the Year for 2022. At a ceremony in Dublin Zoo during National Bike Week ‘22, Gort Community School were named Ireland’s Travel School of the Year by the Green-Schools Programme, following their participation in the programme’s Big Travel Challenge in February. Nine schools were awarded at the ceremony and named as Cycling, Walking, Scooting and Park ‘n’ Stride Schools of the Year.

During February schools undertook the Green-Schools Big Travel Challenge – now in its seventh year – which asked them to concentrate on one sustainable transport mode for two weeks to see if they could achieve real, lasting change in the travel behaviour of their staff and students. The Challenge is an initiative of Green-Schools Travel, which is supported by the NTA and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Healthy hearts and weather warnings

The students and staff at Gort Community School took the challenge seriously and almost doubled the numbers of students walking to school over the course of the challenge. They promoted the challenge through posters in and outside the school, held a non-uniform day to raise prizes to later use as incentives and organised a Valentine’s Day ‘Walk Your Way to a Healthy Heart’ Walk for students. The school group remained steadfast in their goals, keeping momentum up during storms and weather warnings, through clever use of social media and community networks.

Congratulating Gort Community School and the other schools on their achievements, Green-Schools Travel Manager Jane Hackett said: “Habits are hard to break – particularly during the colder, darker winter months. We are excited to be back celebrating the Big Travel Challenge in person and I’m seriously impressed with the hard work and dedication these students put into changing travel habits at their school. We have a primary school here that grew their cycling numbers from one sole student to 15, in a school population of just 25! These results aren’t easily come by so I can’t congratulate our nine winners enough.”

Bike Week

One other secondary school (Malahide Community School, Dublin) was a winner in the Cycling category of the awards while the other seven schools were all primary schools from Meath, Waterford, Dublin, Clare, Limerick and Carlow. This Bike Week, Green-Schools Travel Officers have been out in schools organising cycle training; bike maintenance session, group cycles and many more community events to celebrate the joys of cycling.

All winning schools:

  • Walking School of Year 2022 (Primary): St. Stephen’s NS, Navan, Meath
  • Walking School of the Year 2022 (Secondary): Gort Community School, Galway
  • Cycling School of the Year 2022 (Primary): Gaelscoil Sáirséal, Limerick
  • Cycling School of the Year 2022 (Primary): St. Brendan’s National School, Carlow
  • Cycling School of the Year 2022 (Secondary): Malahide Community School, Dublin
  • Scooting School of the Year 2022 (Primary): Scoil Áine, Raheny
  • Scooting School of the Year 2022 (Primary): St. Mary’s Primary School, Dungarvan, Waterford – could not attend ceremony
  • Park ‘n’ Stride School of the Year 2022 (Primary): Knockanean National School, Ennis, Clare
  • Park ‘n’ Stride School of the Year 2022 (Primary): Scoil Mhuire, Oranmore, Galway – could not attend ceremony