Teachers are calling on the government to take urgent action to ban cars outside schools in the UK to help improve air quality.

And one survey has found that around two in three teachers would give their support for schools having car-free roads during pick-up and drop-off times.

Around half of teachers say the government now needs to promise urgent action to boost the air quality near schools.

The survey by Sustrans, the cycling and walking charity, found that 43% of teachers say idling car engines near the school gates is a concern and 63% say air pollution is problematic because the school where they work is based near or on a main road.

The survey has been published after Public Health England revealed in a report earlier this month that air quality needs to be improved at the school gate.

Prevent cars from idling near a school entrance

Among the issues they highlighted is a need to prevent cars from idling near a school entrance, providing parking for those with electric cars and promoting carpool lanes.

The organisation also says that air pollution is a serious environmental threat to the health of people. They add that the number of deaths every year that can be attributed to the exposure long-term of air pollution is between 28,000 and 36,000.

The chief executive of Sustrans, Xavier Brice, said: “We need to change radically the way we travel. Snarled-up roads and idling car engines poison the air and children’s bodies. For too long, the dangerous levels of air pollution close to schools have been ignored.”

He added: “It’s clear that teachers want action urgently to clean up these toxic fumes and they see the closing of roads outside schools as one solution.”

The survey highlights the 26% of teachers believe that school road closures would help lower air pollution levels.

Also, 59% of teachers say that the lack of other routes is a major issue for implementing road closures.

Government to help improve air quality around schools

The rise in asthma among young people has been linked to toxic fumes and growing numbers of teachers now say they want to see Government action to help improve air quality around schools, with Sustrans saying that 34% of teachers believing everyone should be encouraged to cycle, walk or scoot to school.

Experts believe that young children are particularly at risk from growing air pollution levels because they absorb and then retain the toxins for much longer.

News of the findings from Sustrans follows one recent national newspaper revelation that there are hundreds of headteachers around the UK who are currently piloting a ban on cars at their school gates, which is being backed by fixed penalty notices which could lead to points on driving licences as well as a £50 fine.