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walking bus logoAdvice from the STP team

This advice supports the Hampshire County Council (HCC) protocol but can be useful if a walking bus is organised and operated  through the PTA or other third party.

Where to start

  • Investigate the number of children living within a mile or more radius of the school who usually travel by car, and whose parents might be interested in them using a walking bus. (Please ask us for details on post code maps).
     

  • Plan a route that is not too long and if possible use paths that are away from major roads (often found through housing estates).
     

  • Consider where 'bus stops' could be along the route.
     
  • Look for parking areas near bus stops that might be used by parents who need to travel to work  - recreation park, supermarket and pub car parks might be worth considering.

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Next step

  • Contact all the parents to inform them of the plan to set up a walking bus and give them the opportunity to indicate  interest in their children taking part and/or their willingness to become a volunteer.
     
  • An important point to raise when advertising for volunteers is that they can make as much or as little commitment as they wish, and that there is HCC public liability and personal accident insurance for them.  A few offering to help once a week gives the bus a better chance of starting, even if not walked every day.  The bus then has more of a chance of continuing and growing because the volunteers are less likely to feel overburdened or  apprehensive of the commitment and responsibility involved.

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Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)

  • If volunteers do not have an enhanced CRB certificate or there is any doubt, then the school should issue them with a new disclosure application form.
     
  • This is filled in by the applicant and returned to the school where valid evidence of identity documents are required to be seen. An authorised person records the details and signs the relevant box in section X.
     
  • So that the school does not need to pay for the CRB check, 'School Walking Bus Volunteer' should be written in 'position applied for' in section B and a cross put in the box marked 'volunteer-no payment due' (just under 'enhanced') in section Y.
     
  • This form is then sent by the school to the Human Resources Service Centre (HRSC)  to be countersigned and forwarded to the CRB.  Two certificates will be posted out from the CRB, usually between three and six weeks later, one to the HRSC countersignatory and the other to the applicant’s home address. The HRSC will email the school with the outcome. Please note that the HRSC is under the umbrella of Education Personnel Services.

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Route

  • Once a route has been decided on, it is necessary to contact us in order to arrange for it to be risk assessed.
     
  • Although an enthusiastic school may have as many as five routes they would like to use for a walking bus, they may find that by concentrating on one or two routes initially, they will have more success in the long run.
     
  • As training is for a specific route, it is important that the correct people are invited to training sessions. Training should be organised so that only the volunteers who will be helping with a particular route are invited. Other training sessions will be needed for other routes.
     
  • If a school wishes to change or add a route, they need to let us know and we will be happy to make an appointment.
     
  • As part of the route assessment we will do an accident investigation.
     
  • It would be helpful to know which roads are likely to be included in the proposed route. This way we can look at the investigation report prior to the visit and bring with us the relevant maps.
     
  • Details and a timetable for each route should be sent or made available to the parents.

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Day to Day

  • Schools need to nominate or employ a co-ordinator who would look after the day to day practicalities of the walking bus as covered in this section. Their role would be to organise the volunteers, timetables, routes etc as well as keep the Headteacher informed of any matters arising.
     
  • It will be necessary to make contingency plans to cover the sickness and holidays of drivers and conductors.
     
  • For communication purposes it would be beneficial for all volunteers to have the telephone numbers of the school, co-ordinator and colleagues in their mobiles. It is also advisable that the co-ordinator is aware of any relevant medical conditions or medication that the children have.
     
  • A register system needs to be organised to ensure that each child that joins the walking bus is accounted for when arriving at the school.
     
  •  The co-ordinator will need to decide whether the children are given their fluorescent and reflective waistcoats / jackets to take home (at the risk of them being forgotten) or whether they are issued by the driver each time they join the bus.

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Road Safety

  • The driver and conductors should give all children joining the walking bus for the first time a brief talk on the  importance of good behaviour and road safety and be prepared to remind them at any time.
     
  • If coat hoods are up because of the weather, then on some parts of the journey hoods may need to be put down as they can impair hearing and vision.

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Finally

We need to know whether it is a HCC or a PTA organised walking bus.  If it is a HCC bus then we need all the details of personnel etc as described in the protocol.  If it is a PTA walking bus with insurance through the National Confederation of PTAs, then the school must write their own route/risk assessment, have their own protocol and deliver their own training.

Image of a walking bus