Moving from primary to secondary school

Road safety and travel advice for parents of children who are starting to travel to school on their own.

Travelling safely

When you know which school your child will be going to, help him or her to work out the safest route there and back:

  • start by drawing a simple map, marking the route and talking it through together
  • try and avoid potential danger spots such as busy junctions, bends, heavily parked areas - even if it makes the journey a bit longer
  • in poor visibility remember drivers may not be able to see you
  • if crossing between parked cars is the only option on route, ensure they know how to do it in the safest way
  • ideally always use safer crossing places, such as pelican crossings, zebra crossings and traffic islands
  • make the journey together several times before they start at the new school
  • plan alternative routes


Teach your child how to walk to school safely:

  • make sure your child knows how to cross the road safely and has lots of practice
  • encourage them to use pedestrian crossings and make sure they know how to use them - young people often assume that drivers will automatically stop and never make mistakes
  • emphasise that they must not stray from their agreed route home without prior permission - such as when visiting friends after school
  • talk about peer pressure with them, and about the danger of being distracted - such as listening to music and using mobile phones - whilst crossing the road


If your child is cycling, make sure:

  • your child is able to cope safely when cycling in traffic
  • the cycle is mechanically sound and the correct size
  • the cycle has working lights, reflectors and lock

By car

If there is no practical alternative and you have to drive your child to school, make sure:

  • everyone wears a seatbelt
  • your child knows what to do if you are late picking them up

Consider park and stride, where you drop your child off a short distance away from the school so they can walk the remainder of the journey (5-10 minutes). This helps to alleviate congestion around the local area and creates a healthier, safer and less polluted environment for the school community.

General tips

Teach children to:

  • stand away from the kerb or the edge of the platform when waiting for a bus or train
  • when in a vehicle, to stay seated. If on public transport and have to stand, ensure they hold onto a railing or handle, especially when the vehicle is in motion
  • wait until the bus has moved away before crossing the road to ensure good visibility
  • avoid empty train compartments and, in buses sit near the driver where possible

Avoid trouble:

  • keep to public places
  • avoid badly lit areas
  • know what to do if approached by a stranger
  • never talk to or accept a lift from strangers
  • travel with friends where possible
  • keep mobiles, money and other electronic devices out of sight

Emergency check list - does your child know:

  • home address and relevant telephone numbers
  • how to contact the emergency services
  • what to do if they lose their oyster card, money or keys
  • who to approach in the new school if they have a problem

Other things to think about:

  • if your child will be travelling by bus or train, do the trip a few times together
  • ensure your child knows alternative routes

Transport for London have also produced resources for their ‘STARS Safer Journey Planner’ which include videos created by their Safety and Citizenship team.