Reducing air pollution levels could improve children’s ability to learn

Mon, 19 Oct 2020 09:52:00 BST

To mark Clean Air Day 2020, experts at The University have published new modelling demonstrating that maintaining lower outdoor air pollution (NO2) levels could improve a child’s ability to learn.

The research, on behalf of the co-ordinators of Clean Air Day, Global Action Plan, and the Philips Foundation, finds that maintaining lower air pollution levels in and around school grounds by 20% could enhance the development of a child’s working memory by 6.1%.

This is the equivalent of four weeks extra learning time per year.

To encourage urgent action, campaigners including support from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution (APPG), National Education Union (NEU) and National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT), are calling on the government and local councils to guide schools in using the newly launched “Clean Air for Schools Framework”.

The Clean Air for Schools Framework, developed by Global Action Plan, the Philips Foundation and The University of Manchester, is a free online tool that gives teachers, headteachers, parents and local authorities a bespoke blueprint of actions for tackling air pollution in and around the school, providing vital support to teachers who are already under pressure to ensure pupils regain lost education time during lockdown.

The findings are part of the Clean Air for Schools Programme, a ‘first of its kind’ year-long research project which looked at how air pollution and its effects on children can be tackled in schools across the UK & Ireland.

More information can be found here.