A NATIONAL awards ceremony has recognised a North-East school for reducing the number of cars doing the school run.

The Federation of Abbey Schools, in Darlington, took four pupils to attend the prize-giving at Portcullis House, opposite the Houses of Parliament, in London.

And the year five and six students were honoured by the Modeshift STARS board after producing a music video to encourage walking, cycling and scooting to school.

Their Park and Stride rap was so successful that car journeys to the school were cut from 35 per cent to just 13 per cent.

The school narrowly missed out on the School of the Year award, but picked up the North-East Modeshift STARS School of the Region award.

Elaine McCue, Federation of Abbey Schools headteacher, said: “Everyone at Abbey School is so proud to be recognised for the work and commitment involved in all aspects of this venture.

“The initiatives are now part of the school culture and embedded into everyday life, with the children leading the way as excellent role models.”

During their visit to the capital, the pupils and deputy headteacher, Amanda Gledhill, travelled across the city in a vintage London bus to the BskyB studios on Thursday afternoon (March 3) and produced their own film to promote cycling in England.

Transport Minister, Lord Ahmed, presented an award at the ceremony on behalf of the Department for Transport who kickstarted the initiative.

Lord Ahmed said: “The schools being recognised have achieved exceptional results in encouraging their pupils to take up healthier and greener travel choices.

“We are committed to Britain becoming a cycling and walking nation and we are providing £50 million for Bikeability training over the next four years so a million pupils can ride their bikes safely.

“There is no better place to instil good transport habits than in schools so the next generation get into healthy routines which improve journeys and quality of life for all.”

Six primary schools from across the country attended the event which saw them give a presentation to their fellow pupils and Modeshift representatives.

Ross Butcher, chairman of Modeshift, said: “The achievements of our STARS Schools of the Region are outstanding and they are really leading the way in demonstrating that it is possible to reverse the trend of increasing car use on the school run.

“They are just the tip of the iceberg though with almost 2,000 schools now taking part in STARS and committed to increasing levels of walking and cycling amongst young people.

“By working together with schools, STARS is successfully helping young people and their families to lead healthier lifestyles and in turn, making our communities safer, happier and greener places to live.”