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Walking buses

(10 Posts)
longdiling Tue 24-Jan-17 10:51:21

Does anyone have any experience of these? Are they popular? Are they generally run by parent volunteers? I'd like our school to have one and am happy to set it up and run it if there's interest. Thanks

emsyj37 Tue 24-Jan-17 10:54:57

We have one but it is run by the local nursery/preschool. The woman running it had to get a risk assessmemt done by the council to get it authorised altho that may be to do with her Ofsted registration/business and may not be needed for a volunteer led arrangement?

bojorojo Tue 24-Jan-17 11:01:54

My local infant school has one. It is "The Crocodile". They had guidance from the LA School Transport office regarding how to set it up. They liked the idea because it cuts down car journey near the school and were very helpful. I think the Deputy Head was the liaison for the school and the Governors were very involved. I do not think you should do it without involving the school and the LA for advice.

I was not part of the group that set it up because my child was just leaving the school and we live in another village, but the children started out from a meeting point and picked children up along the way. I know there was a parent rota and it has worked very well. The children had yellow reflective vests for the winter. It does take motivated parents though to keep it going.

I would really encourage you to do it.

longdiling Tue 24-Jan-17 11:09:25

Thank you. I would absolutely involve the school and LA. Motivated parents is where it may fall down, we barely have a PTA...

bojorojo Tue 24-Jan-17 23:46:48

I noticed that as part of the consultation for the extensions of my local primary schools, they both said they had a Level 3 Transport Plan in place. I am not sure what that is exactly but it could be a national programme and not just local to me. They went on to talk about crocodiles and children cycling to school. You do need parents for crocodiles though! They also need to have the time and commitment! Clearly a rota works best and parents who do not rush off to work every day are the target parents. We had a very active PTA and GB when it started in my area. You never know, you might be surprised!

longdiling Wed 25-Jan-17 08:51:15

Thanks again! I did read somewhere the suggestion that anyone who wants to use the walking bus has to go on the rota which seemed a good idea. I'm going to email the head and see what she says first off.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Wed 25-Jan-17 09:13:45

We were on one for a while, the dc didn't like doing it everyday because they liked to amble along chatting to me. A walking bus is quite regimented because you have to chivy the slower members along and you can't just chat to your dc. It was handy for me when I had two drop offs in different directions some days and the only other option to get them all there on time would be driving and breakfast club. I can see that it could also be good if their best friends were on the bus with them. Generally though it worked best for those parents who needed it to work (e.g. like me needed to do a nursery run or worked a few days so could drop at bus at 8.30 and still get to work so effectively had twenty mins free childcare in return for walking them in on day off). It wasn't as reliable as breakfast club (e.g. if walking parent ill).

You needed two walking parents a day and I think it was a 1:6 ratio including toddlers. You need to make it a requirement that if the child goes on the bus a parent must volunteer once a week. Most parents at the school couldn't be bothered to join the bus and just walked /drove their dc themselves.

We went to part time as numbers dwindled and then stopped as there were only two families which meant we both had to go every day anyway to keep the two parents and it was a bit mad waiting around in the rain half way to school for another family whom my dc weren't friends with because they were in different year groups.

I know that sounds a bit negative but you really need to make sure that there are clear benefits for the dc/parents and that they are engaged and committed. The SMT will love it because they can add it to their travel plan and they don't have to do anything. You really need at least 6 committed families to make it work.

jamdonut Wed 25-Jan-17 10:20:14

I used to do one , ( when I was still just a parent helper) with another TA from school. We only did it going to school, because a) there were things the TA needed to be involved in after school, and b) we didn't want to be babysitters at the end of the day, standing in the street waiting for parents to come and collect their children! [Hmm]

It worked well for a while until some parents couldn't even be bothered to get their children to our meeting point on time, or inform us they weren't coming at all ( by text is all we asked!). Also we had some behavioural issues, and in the end we had to just stop.

My son didn't like doing the walking bus, because I couldn't give him my full attention.But it got him used to the route before he started to walk with friends instead, in year 5.

jamdonut Wed 25-Jan-17 10:22:32

I should add, the route had to be checked by the council, and we couldn't deviate, unless there was an unavoidable reason ( road works , impassable, etc, etc)

We got checked on once a year as well, the guy used to walk with us!.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Wed 25-Jan-17 10:40:59

We only did mornings too because after school there were clubs etc so children finished at different times and the issue jamdonut highlights about the parents needing to be there, if there was a problem with collecting a child then the school are better placed with emergency numbers etc. Having said that informally other parents on the walking bus would help us out informally in the afternoon if there were problems and someone was ill.

Again route had to be checked and approved. There were rewards for the dc to go on the walking bus.

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