THE BRIGHTON WALDORF SCHOOL WINS EARLY YEARS ESTABLISHMENT OF THE YEAR 2021 IN MODESHIFT STARS NATIONAL AWARDS
School Celebrates Nationwide Recognition For Its Sustainable School Travel Initiatives
Teachers, pupils and parents at The Brighton Waldorf School, located in the heart of Kemptown, have been celebrating the School’s latest achievement – being awarded The Modeshift STARS Early Years Establishment 2021 national title.
This new accolade follows the School’s recent successes of being named the Modeshift STARS South East’s Regional Early Years Establishment for 2020-21 for its work in getting more children, parents and carers walking, cycling or scooting their way to the School and receiving the Gold Modeshift STARS accreditation earlier this year.
Jasmin Brackenfield, one of the School’s Early Years Kindergarten Teachers, who has been spearheading the sustainable activity and weekly Active Travel Fridays said: “When I heard that we had won the Modeshift STARS Award for the Early Years Establishment for the South East, I literally jumped for joy – and we are all absolutely delighted to now be the winner of the Early Years Establishment of the Year category in the National STARS Schools of the Year Awards.
“Our Travel Advisor, Polly Stebbens at Brighton and Hove City Council, put us forward as she was so impressed by our daily walks. At drop off, the children put on High Viz Vests, greet their friends then set off to East Brighton Park. We walk all year round, no matter what the weather is like, as it’s so good for the children’s physical and mental health.
“For example, if a child has some stress at home, by the time we return to Kindergarten after our morning walk they are happy, completely in the moment and just ready to play. Walking is excellent for both physical and mental health as it not only increases a child’s resilience, but it also sets good habits of healthy activity for life.”
Jasmin continued: “We appreciate the joy and enthusiasm with which the children walk, scoot or cycle to Kindergarten on our weekly Active Travel days. If it is too far to travel the whole way actively, we encourage families to park and stride for at least five minutes each Friday throughout the school year.
“We want to thank all the parents for their ongoing efforts and leaving that bit earlier to park and stride or cycle in. As many of our families travel long distances to get to the School, we focused on park and stride. It’s great as we have managed to halve the families travelling just by car. “
It’s not only the children who are developing good habits. The School’s Early Years staff are also leading by example. Kindergarten Teacher, Carrie Rawle, has a distinctive bright yellow City Bike that she rides into school every day and Jasmin herself mostly cycles along the Undercliff Walk. “I love the sound of the waves lapping on my way to school. I could not wish for a better commute and I’m lucky that I have cycle paths for almost the entire journey,” she added.
“Since the School has been involved with Modeshift STARS, and with the support of our local authority, we have seen a change in how children travel to school. We support and help our School families to make changes to their modes of sustainable travel by including events in our newsletter, creating a realistic travel plan, talking to the children and have introduced walk, scoot, cycle or park and stride Active Travel Fridays. In order to support the staff in changing the way they travel to school we have also included Modeshift STARS on our Early Years weekly agenda. Both our parent and staff initiatives have been supported by the School’s leadership and management team, and through this we have also seen staff change to a more sustainable form of travel,” said Carrie.
“Both our Early Years Kindergarten classes walk every day in East Brighton Park and we have managed to continue this through the pandemic. The children’s health and well-being are paramount and over the course of an academic year we see this improve alongside their resilience. The Early Years department continued to promote daily walks to our School families through our online Threshold Learning during lockdown which was well received by both the children and parents,” Jasmin continued.
“We owe a huge thanks to Polly and the whole travel team as they have helped us with ideas, initiatives, sorting out a safer road crossing and reduced the speed limit on Wilson Avenue which we cross to East Brighton Park. Also, the Council has given us funding to build a covered cycle shelter and for bike helmets. We are delighted. Anything that promotes well-being is important to nurture in this day and age and believe me I love the sense of accomplishment cycling home with a head wind, plus it is easier to keep up fitness levels,” Jasmin shared.
Commenting on the School’s sustainable achievements, Damian Mooncie, the School Director said: “Jasmin and the Early Years team have worked extremely hard to achieve these great results. During the four years we have been working with Modeshift STARS, promoting active and sustainable travel and initiating our Active Travel Fridays, we have seen significant, positive outcomes. For example, the number of families using park and stride has increased by 12% and parents and pupil’s walking, scooting and cycling has increased by 7%.
“The School has embedded the use of sustainable transport, the importance of movement in the outside environment and the ecological gain of both within the ethos of the School and the experience of the children in the Early Years Kindergartens. Everyone at the School should be very proud of these outstanding achievements which support our vision to enliven our pupils’ understanding of the community and environment both locally and globally in which they live.”
Jasmin concluded: “We have a great sense of community in the School. We encourage a healthy connection and respect for nature and each other. This is integrated in our curriculum already from Early Years Kindergarten to the GCSE subjects and our Waldorf Main lessons in Farming, Geography and the Sciences.
“In September we will allocate a Pupil Eco Council with children further up the School, and we really want to hear from everyone what changes they would like to see in the grounds, with recycling, and sustainable travel as we strive towards the Eco-School Standard.”