Portsmouth's first Superzone surrounding Arundel Court Primary Academy

Portsmouth’s first Superzone surrounding Arundel Court Primary Academy is set to give children and families a safe environment to thrive.

Having a safe environment to live, learn and play in, eat a healthy diet and be active with clean air is a key part of giving children the best start in life. With this in mind, the Superzone Pilot was softly launched in September 2021. The programme focuses on a 400m radius (roughly a 10-minute walk) around Arundel Court Primary Academy. This is to give children, young people, and their families healthier, safe surroundings.

Arundel Court Primary Academy is the chosen school based on its location in Portsmouth. The school is within the Clean Air Zone and the area is closely populated, with high levels of childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity rates in Portsmouth are high, with 27.3% of Year 6 children being obese in 2021/2022. This means the rates in Portsmouth are higher than the England average.

Great efforts are being made to reduce childhood obesity by Portsmouth City Council, the NHS, and community groups, focusing on families. Yet, the Superzone aims to protect children’s health and encourage healthy behaviours by looking at environment where children spend a lot of their time; at school and the surrounding community (400m radius).

The key areas of focus for the programme came to light when working with the children of Arundel Court Primary to learn what being healthy means to them and how we could support them to be even healthier. The four areas are:

  • Healthy food environment – to increase the uptake of school meals, improve nutrition of lunchboxes, and to encourage healthy eating at home.
  • Active places – to increase active play and active travel at school and the surrounding area. E.g. Arundel Park, Athletic Skills Garden.
  • Cleaner air – to improve outdoor air quality, with less cars and a smoke free zone outside the school gates.
  • Community and safety – to reduce anti-social behaviour, littering, dog fouling and develop a safe environment for activities.

Children's views on what it means to be healthy and unhealthy

After Covid-19 caused delays to launch, the council had the opportunity to hear from both the children and parents of Arundel Court. In this time, school drop-off/pick-up points (Northam and Fyning Street) were under observation on three occasions. There were also three hands-up surveys with the children about driving to school and access to a bikes and scooters. In November 2022, a parental survey took place around the school’s road safety.

The findings have led to a one-week road closure trial between 27-31 March 2023 tying in with the Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel campaign. This national campaign encourages active travel to school by challenging all schools that sign up to compete with prizes to win.

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council, said; “The Superzone Pilot is a step in the right direction towards the improvements we are aiming for in reducing childhood obesity. By working together, and promoting healthy partnerships between schools and communities, I know we will continue to go that way.”

The Superzone Pilot is set to finish July 2024 and it will then be evaluated for its impact on the children of Arundel Court Primary Academy. Until then, an action plan is in place to increase physical activity, improve air quality and improve the surrounding community. Practical workshops will be carried out for parents and carers on healthy lunchbox tips and working towards a smoke-free school gate from April 2023.

If you would like to find out more about the Superzone Pilot or have any questions, please email superzone@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.