PUPILS at a Denton primary school are now messengers over the importance of air quality after being chosen to appear on a television clean air report.
Every day on Sky News, viewers are told how good, or otherwise, what they are breathing in is – and the kids introducing the segments will look familiar to the parents of those who attend Russell Scott school.
For after four days of filming in February, they have been introducing them to a national audience since March 1 and until December 31.
It all makes for a very proud headteacher in Steve Marsland after children from every year bar reception took part – but the campaigning does not end there.
Next on the list was an appeal to councillors in Stockport to reject the proposed Bredbury Parkway development that could see traffic piling through Denton, meaning even more pollution.
Pupils even supported Andrew Gwynne MP in a protest against the plans, which were voted on on Wednesday, March 24.
He said: “The children were there with Andrew, with their placards, and presented to the planning committee at Stockport Council, showing some of the Sky footage, to try and make the councillors see sense about the clean air that’s going to be damaged.
“Because of the issue of articulated lorries not being able to get to it from the Stockport side, they’ll have to come through Denton past our school again.
“We’re already in the middle of a two with major routes at the side of us – A roads, motorways etc – and they want to pile more traffic on when we’re trying to reduce it. It just makes a mockery of it.”
Mr Marsland has long been a campaigner for clean air as his school finds itself close to the M67 and major arterial routes.
His scheme of turning pupils into PCSOs patrolling cars waiting nearby with their engines running caught the imagination of schools around the country.
Air purifiers – from Philips, who sponsor the Sky segment – are now in place to make sure what circulates around classrooms is clean.
He added: “We launched the Greater Manchester Schools Clean Air Campaign at the school last October and a survey was done of 9,000 pupils across 20 different schools in the area.
“They found because of pollution from diesel and vehicles in general producing a lot of articulates in the air, it’s five times more polluted inside than outside.
“It traps all the dirt and dirty air knocks a term’s worth of work off for a child. Some of the facts are damning, they’re mouth opening.
“They found the Covid-19 pandemic cleared it up but it’s back to what it was now.
“But following on from the Clean Air Campaign, we were approached by Philips who said, ‘Would you take part in making idents to feature online and on television, pushing over the fact clean air is better than dirty air?’
“You’ve got young children living in towns and cities. Their health is being affected by the number of cars on the roads, especially at drop off and pick up times when the levels quadruple.
“Parents need to change the culture of bringing children to school and think about their health.”
With a school of television stars, Mr Marsland has a new reason for playground squabbles to deal with as there are one or two arguments over whose segment is better!
“There’s always a bit of competition in everything Russell Scott does,” he continued.
“Children are so knowledgeable, though, and the quality of their understanding of clean air and the environment is something that would never have crossed my mind when I was at school.
“We’ve showed them that on your own, your voice is very small but together you can make a proper noise and you can make changes.
“These children are the next generation and my generation has made a right mess of the world they’re growing up into.
“It’s up to them to make a fuss and make sure it doesn’t get any worse for them, their children or their children’s children. What they’ve done is absolutely marvellous.”