- HomeRun Team
“800 parents out of 1,100 have signed up. They’re not required to, so it’s a good sign.”
Q&A with Michael Clarkson, Estates Director at North London Collegiate School, in North West London. The school introduced HomeRun in 2019.
What kind of school is it?
North London Collegiate School is very much a North London, urban school. We have 1,100 girl students from 4-18 and the catchment area is very wide.
Photo : North London Collegiate School Website When did you implement HomeRun?
We started using HomeRun in summer 2019. Initially it was very much about reducing cars. We run a coach service and roughly half our students come to school via the coaches, but we needed to get a better picture of where people were coming from and how many cars were coming on site. It also gave us more granularity on things, such as how many diesel, petrol, and hybrid cars there are.
Photo : Girls' school association
Who is your primary audience for sustainability - parents, or the council?
Initially, it's for internal consumption so that we can validate what we see in terms of cars coming on site. Plus we publish our carbon footprint and we have a commitment to become carbon net zero by 2030, so that element really does matter.
We have always done the Transport for London (TfL) star system, particularly the hands up surveys where children tell you once a year how they got to school. But they don't really tell you very much, so we're able to back those numbers up with what we're seeing from HomeRun.
We’ve been chatting with Harrow council’s travel team to see how we might set up a neighbourhood approach to using HomeRun. Given that we’re using the same road space, we might be able to provide the data to TfL to take better action in terms of traffic flows or cycle paths, and that would be fantastic.
Has HomeRun been popular with parents?
Nearly 800 parents out of 1,100 have signed up. Given that we don't require everyone to do that, it’s a pretty good sign. It’s a safe way for parents to share their locations and so on, which is great.
“The data has helped us identify the challenge of balancing coach services - how many students, what do you charge? - as well as the pupils who might be able to use them.” Michael Clarkson, Estates Director
How is the data useful?
I think what's really interesting within the data is you can look at the year groups and see how many people are walking, cycling, and so on. We see quite a lot of people who live within three miles who drive but then you realise they're mostly junior school children, which kind of makes sense. But you can also see other patterns that you can look into.
One of the things we've identified is the challenge of balancing coach services - how many students you pick up en route, and also what you charge? The data helps us because it tells us who might be able to utilise the coaches, because they live close to other pupils in the area who are using them.
It’s also helped with planning permissions. The school’s travel plan had baseline data, supported by HomeRun data, which meant we were able to provide more context in terms of current travel patterns.
What would be your advice for other schools adopting HomeRun?
Unless you require people to communicate through the app, it will take time to build up numbers. But I would say that's okay. Every school has turnovers, with new people coming in every year. So I think you just take a long view on it.
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