CHILDREN’S academic performance and health would be put at risk if Bearsden Primary is shut.
This is the view of campaigners from the Save Bearsden Primary action group who are fighting to keep the school at Bearsden Cross.
This week they have highlighted national and international evidence, including from the world’s pre-eminent health organisation, that walking to school is linked to greater fitness and educational attainment.
Evidence from the World Health Organisation found that reduced physical activity due to increased car use affects children’s stamina, alertness at school and academic performance.
A UK Department for Transport survey also found that 90 per cent of teachers reported that the walk to school makes children brighter, more alert and ready for the first class of the day.
But if Bearsden Primary is closed and pupils are moved to Castlehill Primary which is 1.2 miles away, campaigners say far fewer children will be able to walk to school.
A survey of parents conducted by the action group found that 80 per cent of parents currently walk with their children to the school and 18 per cent travel by car.
Some pupils in the catchment area would have to make a journey of up to two miles to Castlehill - 83 per cent of parents said they’d go by car and only 13 per cent would walk, with most of the rest going by bus.
Catriona Padmanabhan, a Bearsden-based hospital doctor, said: “The links between less exercise, obesity and ill health are beyond question and it makes no sense to encourage greater dependence on the car at an early age.
“We owe it to the children of Bearsden to give them the best possible chance of a healthy lifestyle by incorporating physical activity into their daily routine, and walking to school is one of the best opportunities we have.”
Wendy McLaren of the Save Bearsden Primary action group added: “Those of us with school age children have long suspected that it is beneficial on an educational basis to walk to school.
“For many children the ability to sit down and concentrate on lessons is massively enhanced by first getting rid of some of their excess energy on the walk to school. This seems self-evident but we now know this is supported by a vast amount of compelling independent research.
“If East Dunbartonshire Council has our children’s best interests at heart then they should keep Bearsden Primary at its current central location and respect the overwhelming wishes of the community to keep our school local.”