Minister Donohoe launches Green-Schools National Walk to School Week

6th May, 2015

Feet first for seventh annual celebration of walking to school


Schools across Ireland are currently putting plans in motion to take part in National Walk to School Week, which takes place from Monday May 11th to Friday, May 15th this year.


An Taisce Green-Schools’ National Walk to School Week is a country-wide initiative which will result in thousands of pupils, their parents and teachers walking to and from school, to celebrate the environmental, health, social and financial benefits of active travel on the school journey. This is the seventh year Green-Schools has run National Walk to School Week, which will be promoted to over 1500 participating schools.


Speaking at the launch in Ballymun with the help of students from Scoil an tSeachtar Laoch’s Green-Schools Committee, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD said: ‘Encouraging our children, at an early age, to consider more sustainable ways of getting to school, other than the car, is essential. National Walk to School Week makes walking all or part of the way to school a fun experience and teaches our children the health and environmental benefits attached to doing so. This programme has been developing, year on year, and I am confident that this year it can surpass all others in terms of the number of children that will travel to school by foot during this week. Other walking initiatives undertaken by Green-Schools across the year, such as Walk on Wednesday Days, Feet First Fridays, ensure that the lessons we are teaching our children are being promoted year-round and not just for one week during the year’.


The school has been working on the Green-Schools Travel theme for two years and will receive their Green Flag for Travel in May.


Building on the success of last year’s National Walk to School Week, Green-Schools hopes that schools will help achieve the target of 20,000 pupils walking to school all over Ireland on National WOW (Walk On Wednesday) Day on May 13th. Last year 41,000 students, in schools registered with Green-Schools, walked all or part of the way to school: the highest figure recorded to date!

One of a Kind!

National Walk to School Week is now one of the most important action awareness weeks in the Irish school calendar and is the only one of its kind in Ireland which promotes active and sustainable travel on the journey to school.  Green-Schools across the country will take up the walking challenge in their own unique ways with schools organising events such as Walk on Wednesday Days, Feet First Fridays, walking competitions and fancy dress walks to school, to encourage everyone to get on their feet for the school journey. Many schools across the country will be declared a car-free zone for this walking action week.




Green-Schools Travel


An Taisce has been working on the national Green-Schools Travel programme, which focuses on promoting sustainable travel on the school run, since September 2008. The Travel theme is funded by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and supported by the National Transport Authority under Smarter Travel Schools.


To date, over 1500 primary and secondary schools countrywide have taken part or are taking part in the Green-Schools Travel programme, implementing sustainable travel action plans in their schools. Since 2008 970 schools have been awarded the Green Flag for Travel, representing successful completion of the travel theme of the Green-Schools programme. At ceremonies across the country this May 261 schools will be awarded the Green Flag for Travel.


The ultimate aim of the Green-Schools Travel programme is to encourage students, parents and teachers to walk, cycle, scoot, Park ‘n’ Stride, use public transport or car pool instead of using the private car on the school run. 246 schools will be awarded the Green Flag for Travel at award ceremonies across Ireland later this month.




Green-Schools (known internationally as Eco-Schools), is an international environmental management education programme, environmental management system and award scheme that promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole-school action for the environment, and is operating in over 50 countries around the world including; almost all EU member states, Africa, South America, Oceania and Asia.  Green-Schools is an initiative of FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).


The programme is coordinated in Ireland by An Taisce, operated in partnership with Local Authorities and is supported by the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, National Transport Authority, NPWS, Irish Water and Trócaire.  The programme is sponsored by Repak and the Wrigley Company Limited.


An Taisce’s Green-Schools Programme reached a record level during the last school year with over 90% of schools in Ireland, equivalent to 800,000 students and teachers, participating in the programme. Participating primary, secondary and special schools directly saved in excess of €8m in waste, energy, water and transport fuel costs during the last school year. To date over 67% of schools in the country have been awarded the internationally recognised Green Flag by An Taisce and 20% are in the process of achieving their first Green Flag, which typically takes around two years.


The Green-Schools programme is based on a seven-step environmental management system and continual improvement process which is very student led and also involves the wider community. Green-Schools is a themed programme with schools initially working on the themes of Litter and Waste and then moving onto themes such as Energy, Water and School Travel. Schools that successfully implemented the programme are awarded the Green Flag. The award must be renewed every two years.


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An Taisce


An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, is an environmental charity, with a range of interests, extending from the natural heritage of land, air, water, flora and fauna, to the heritage of buildings and gardens. Through its local, national and international networks, An Taisce seeks to educate, inform and lead public opinion on the environment, and influence policy and development. Strategies to achieve these aims include awareness and education programmes. As the Irish member of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), An Taisce co-ordinates the Green-Schools programme as well as well as other environmental education programmes such as Blue Flag, Green Homes, Green Communities and National Spring Clean, in Ireland. See for further information.