Laura Sharman 08 October 2020

Air pollution round schools is impacting learning, research finds

Reducing air pollution levels by 20% could improve a child’s ability to learn within one month, new research has found.

A year-long research project by the University of Manchester found that maintaining lower air pollution in and around schools could improve the development of a child’s working memory by 6%.

The modelling, on behalf of the co-ordinators of Clean Air Day, Global Action Plan, and the Philips Foundation, shows that even a 20% increase in air pollution could stunt the development of a child’s working memory by up to four weeks per year.

Campaigners are calling on local councils to encourage schools to use the new Clean Air for Schools Framework to help tackle air pollution.

Chris Large, Co-CEO at Global Action Plan said: ‘This year long research project has uncovered the effects air pollution has on our children’s ability to learn, as well as their health. Given lockdown restrictions have already impeded learning time, we must give all children a fighting chance, especially those in pollution hotspots who are also likely to be victims of the attainment gap.’

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