Walking to school

Walking to school is a great method of transportation for children whose schools are located within a reasonable distance. It improves children's health and allows them to travel independently - but their safety and security is vital.

Benefits of walking to school

Walking your child to school:

  • helps contribute to their daily amount of exercise
  • allows you to spend more social time with them
  • can help build good walking habits in them from a young age, so they choose to walk more when they can

Walking can also help build children’s confidence, as well as teaching them the rules of the road and how to walk safely.

It can help strengthen relationships with the friends they walk with, which can especially help those starting post-primary education.

While walking offers many benefits, it is understandable that parents and teachers may have some concerns around road safety. For more information, worksheets and resources on road safety are available on these pages:

Walking bus

For children who do not want, or who are not ready, to walk to school unaccompanied, there are a number of alternatives. The Walking Bus scheme, for example, enables children to walk to school in safe, supervised groups.

The Walking Bus concept is a safe, healthy and environmentally-friendly approach to walking large groups of children to and from school.

Each walking bus has an adult 'driver' at the front and an adult 'conductor' at the rear. The children walk to school in a group along a set route picking up additional 'passengers' at specific 'bus stops' along the way. The bus runs in all weather conditions and everyone wears a reflective jacket.

Each walking bus is different, as they are developed to suit the needs of children and their parents.

Some schools have a number of walking buses, while others only have one.

Some walking buses operate only on certain days, while others operate only in the morning or afternoon.

Many are set up and run by the school’s Parent and Teacher’s Association (PTA). Remember to check with the school principal for permission and support, they may be able to help with the setup.

Benefits of the walking bus:

  • good for children - a walking bus is a safe way for children to walk to school, allowing children to have regular daily exercise and reinforcing the habit of walking for shorter journeys
  • good for the environment - with less congestion and traffic, which means less pollution
  • good for you - an opportunity for you to have social contact with other parents, physical exercise and the feeling of well-being knowing that you're doing something worthwhile

Insurance

Remember to arrange insurance cover before starting a walking bus. Your school should be able to advise on this. Why not set up a walking bus at your school?

If the school has a PTA, membership of the Parent Teacher Associations  UK (PTA UK) includes insurance cover which includes walking buses.

For more information, contact the Northern Ireland NCPTA adviser, Jayne Thompson:

Or visit the PTA UK website.

More useful links

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