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How a Kensal Green school on the edge of heavily polluted Chamberlayne Road is keeping the fumes at bay

PUBLISHED: 11:17 24 October 2019

Pupils at Ark Franklin Academy enjoying outdoor learning. Picture: Janine Ryan

Pupils at Ark Franklin Academy enjoying outdoor learning. Picture: Janine Ryan

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Green-fingered kids at a Kensal Green primary school have been doing their bit for the planet by growing their own food for school lunches and building their own wormery for composting waste.

Ark Franklin Academy's huge garden and play space, Picture: Janine RyanArk Franklin Academy's huge garden and play space, Picture: Janine Ryan

The pupils at Ark Franklin Primary Academy in Harvist Road - whose reception classes back on to the narrow traffic-laden Chamberlayne Road - have also planted trees and a hedge to stave off pollution.

And it is paying off: speaking to the Kilburn Times one lunch hour last week, head Janine Ryan told us last week the reading on the school's "Brent pollution meter" in the car park was "very low".

The children helped to build the compost and wormery from recycled palettes to tackle food waste, and there is an eco-cabin with a living roof where teaching takes place.

"Outdoor learning really helps the children," said Ms Ryan. "That is where we really push on climate change.

"We planted a whole native hedgerow around our borders with our community two years ago. We planted a whole garden - we took the initiative with The Woodland Trust and took their free trees."

She admits the school is helped by having a "very large site" with four playgrounds at the back of the building. There's a wild garden and children also grow their own salad and herbs for the kitchen.

These form part of school dinners so children understand "no wastage". "Everything we do," Ms Ryan added, "we look at how we can reduce, reuse and recycle.

"We start very simply. Our whole new reception desk is wrapped in a plastic that's generated from recycled ocean refuse. The message to our children is: we need to wrap the desk in something - what might we use? It's about reflecting on our impact on the planet, being agents of change; understanding with rights come responsibilities for ourselves and our community. It's giving back and paying it forward."

With a £20,000 grant from the mayor and Brent Council as part of the Quality Air Audit, the school put double glazing in the reception classrooms and planted more greenery.

The school has worked with a Swiss philanthropist and installed PurisAir filters in its road-facing classrooms, which traps particulates.

"We're waiting for the results," Ms Ryan said. "We may put filters in all the classrooms but we need to know if it's necessary."

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