Active, safe and sustainable travel to and from school
Active travel (walking, scooting, cycling) for school journeys is supported and promoted by us. The way a school or college and nearby roads and pavements are built and run makes a difference to how active and how safe school communities are when getting to and from their site each day.
We expect educational establishments to manage that activity by writing and updating a school travel plan (STP). An STP is required in support of any larger planning application by the school. The benefits of a good STP are:
- an increase in sustainable means of travel (such as walking, scooting, cycling or using public transport) and reduced car travel to school
- healthier, more active pupils and staff
- reduced risk of accident and improved air quality around the school site
- fewer cars and less congestion around the school results in safer walking, scooting and cycling routes
- increase in the school's reputation within the local community
STARS accreditation scheme for School Travel Plans (STPs)
An up to date STP shows that your school or college is taking responsibility for the safety and fitness of the young people in their care. An STP should identify the travel issues for your school, requests changes that would make routes to school safer for walking and cycling, and sets out the travel activities the school will run during the year to encourage active travel and to better manage car use and parking, and safe use of public transport.
We encourage schools to create their STP via the STARS accreditation website. By meeting certain criteria and running a set amount of travel activities, school can achieve STARS accreditation.
There are plenty of travel activities which count towards STARS accreditation and it’s more than likely that your school is already engaging in many such as:
- Walking trips
- Road safety theatre in education
- Brighten Your Bag – Road Safety Competition
- Walk Once a Week (WoW)
- School Staff Step Challenges
- Installing scooter or cycle storage
- Junior Travel Ambassadors (JTAs)
- Communicating active/sustainable travel messages with the school community
You can find more activity examples by visiting TfL Stars website
Please be aware that this years’ STARS deadline has been postponed until June 2021. Any activity completed by schools within this academic year will count towards your application next academic year.
Leading on behaviour change initiatives (such as awareness raising of air quality issues or road safety education) is one of the ways that schools can work towards avoiding a car-based recovery from the pandemic, and doing this as part of your phased return to school may promote a culture of active travel and sustainability within your school community.
Active travel for the school journey
Walking is the simplest way to travel short distances such as the walk to school. Walking with family and/or friends is a social activity which engages children's minds before they arrive so that their brain is stimulated and ready for school. Scooting, rollerblading and cycling are also modes of active travel. The STARS website has plenty of ideas and inspiration and enables schools to record their activities formally, achieving STARS accreditation by the end of an academic year.
Find more inspirational activity examples by visiting TfL Stars website
Physical activity releases endorphins around the body, so the children arrive to school feeling good, in a positive mind-set and ready to engage in their education. These benefits are also felt by parents who travel actively with their children, so they are ready to start the working day. Choosing active travel over car usage means less congestion and reduced air pollution around the school site for a healthier, happier and safer school community. More families travelling actively also means less people using public transport, leaving space on services for those who must use public transport to be able to maintain social distancing.
Parents who are working from home could take advantage of what was their commuting time and get the whole family off to a brilliant start to the day by travelling actively to school. This will help reinforce healthier lifestyle choices for children which they may take with them into their adult lives.
To monitor travel choices during the phased return to school, your school could choose to conduct regular hands-up surveys. This is simply asking pupils how they got to school that day, and how would they like to get to school. This data can be uploaded to the STARS website for comparison purposes and data collection. The data could determine if there are particular year groups or classes where car usage is causing an issue so schools’ can consider a targeted intervention. This could also be turned into a learning opportunity around data and analysis for older pupils.
For an accurate map of where pupils live, schools can create post-code plots to accurately identify the catchment areas using Google My Maps (or other mapping software) and importing a spreadsheet of addresses. This may help to potentially identify commonly used routes to/from schools and your school could map out safe routes to school which minimise road danger risks. A route that is perceived as safer may encourage more families to consider travelling actively along it.
Junior Travel Ambassadors (JTAs)
The Junior Travel Ambassadors (JTA) scheme encourages peer-to-peer engagement to promote safer, active and independent travel within the school community in a fun and engaging way. The JTA scheme gives pupils all the support and resources they need to spread important messages while building skills for life.
JTAs play an important part in delivering peer-to-peer active travel messaging. They can help to lead fun activities such as:
- Bling Your Bike
- Brighten Your Bag
- Road Safety short videos
Much of the work you do for STARS and your travel plan can support your work towards Healthy Schools Croydon. Healthy Schools Croydon also requires that you are working towards having a valid, STARS accredited school travel plan. If you do not know the status of your school travel plan please get in touch with Lewis Campbell using the contact details below.
Road safety resources
- Guide to teaching road safety by Brake
- Education resources from Think
- Road safety videos for primary schools