Schools

Give staff concessions in London driving charge plan, say heads

Proposals will 'inevitably' affect school staff, but measures are needed to tackle pollution, leaders warn

Proposals will 'inevitably' affect school staff, but measures are needed to tackle pollution, leaders warn

Some schools could be faced with plugging funding shortfalls for London mayor Sadiq Khan's plan for universal free meals at primary

School staff and other key workers should have concessions on proposed new driving charges in London that will “inevitably impact” them, leaders say.

Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, is exploring implementing a smart charging system in which existing charges are replaced by a pay-per-mile scheme.

But with that technology “still years away”, shorter-term measures such as an expansion of the ultra-low emission zone and a “small” charge for all but the cleanest vehicles are also being considered.

It follows a report by City Hall last year that found that 98 per cent of schools in London are in areas exceeding World Health Organisation pollution limits.

Campaign groups welcomed the announcement, but school staff are likely to be affected by the new charges.

Teacher Tapp polling last year found that half of teachers in the capital still commute by car. In London more generally, about one in five car journeys are for work.

David Boyle, the chief executive of the Dunraven Educational Trust, said any change would “inevitably impact on some teachers’ ability to get to their schools”.

Action needed to tackle air pollution

But he added: “We need to do something about pollution – we owe that to our children. And we will have to manage the consequences.

“There’s no doubt that such changes would lead to schools losing staff who couldn’t reasonably make a journey unless by car.”

Jon Chaloner, chief executive of GLF Schools, said it was “essential” to reduce pollution in London, but added that “while we would support realistic measures to improve air quality, concessions on charges and subsidies (including for electric car purchase) must be a factor for key workers”.

“We cannot disincentivise our staff or add further to their current pressures.”

Stewart Keller, the operations director of the Knowledge Schools Trust, which runs four central London schools, said his organisation woauld “support any initiative to ensure that the children in our care get cleaner air to breathe”.

A spokesperson for the mayor said that “for too long it has been accepted that children growing up in London will breathe more polluted air than their friends and family outside this city”.

Any new schemes would have to “strike the best balance” between health and environment benefits and costs.

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