Theatre group brings air quality message to schools

Published: 5 May 2017

Eco-themed stage plays have been performed in front of children at nine local primary schools to help teach youngsters about climate change, air pollution and the effect that transport choices can have on the environment.

Nearly 550 pupils took part in interactive performances of the “The Pollution Solution” - a theatrical show performed by the Big Wheel Theatre Company with funding from Wandsworth Council.

The group has worked closely with the council's environment team to ensure each performance highlights practical examples of ways that pupils and their parents can improve the local environment.

The aim is to encourage families to make sustainable travel choices like walking and cycling and so reduce rush hour traffic congestion caused by 'school runs'.

The performances included: Global warming – how your transport choices affect the world; the impact of traffic, air pollution and congestion in your local area; why walking and cycling are almost always the best way to get around and how to do this safely.

The primary schools that hosted The Big Wheel Theatre Company included Rutherford House and the Eveline Day School in Balham, Tooting’s Furzedown, Penwortham and Franciscan
primary schools, along with Griffin and Chesterton schools in Battersea, Heathmere in Roehampton and St Joseph’s RC in Putney.

Last year around 560 pupils at St Boniface, Gatton, Smallwood, Allfarthing, Swaffield, Albemarle, Sheringdale, St Anselms and Holy Ghost also took part in the initiative.

Other steps the council is taking to improve air quality include:

  • In 2009 Wandsworth Council installed its first air quality monitoring station on Putney High Street to develop an evidence base around the high street’s suspected pollution issue. 
  • Successfully lobbied TfL to replace heavier polluting diesel buses with cleaner alternatives.
  • Introducing a day-time ban on deliveries on Putney High Street to cut traffic levels, improve flow and reduce the number of idling lorries.
  • Supporting car clubs which reduce overall car ownership and cut traffic levels. Wandsworth now has 14,000 members, more than any other borough.
  • Lobbying for higher capacity rail, bus, riverbus and tube services so more residents can switch from cars to public transport.
  • Promoting cycling and investing in the borough’s cycle network. Wandsworth now has the fastest growing cycle rate in the country according to Government statistics.
  • Introducing 20mph zones to calm traffic and encourage more cycling and walking.
  • Electric vehicle charging points have been installed which enable residents to switch over to low emission electric vehicles. Up to a further 125 charging points are set to be installed as the council vastly expands local coverage.
  • Helping schools develop school travel plans which reduce the number of cars used on the school run through initiatives like 'walking buses' and car pools.
  • The council's Smarter Driving campaign encourages drivers to take simple steps like fully inflating their tires to reduce their emissions. It also provides free vehicle emission checks in public places like supermarket car parks.
  • Free bike safety lessons for children and adults to give more residents the confidence and skills they need to start cycling.
  • A free airTEXT messaging service warns residents when high pollution levels are forecast.
  • Making the borough more pedestrian friendly, including projects in Clapham Junction, Southfields, Putney and Earlsfield.
  • Ensuring best practice pollution controls are followed on local development sites.

To find out more about how the council is working to improve local air quality visit