HCC's Walking Bus protocol
The walking bus is an organised walking group led and accompanied by adults, known as 'driver' and 'conductor'. There is one driver per bus and each conductor has a 'carriage' of children. Parents wait with their children at 'bus stops' for the walking bus adults to escort the children to school.
Headteachers and governors need to:
Understand that the management responsibility of the walking bus is with them.
Understand that Hampshire County Council provides public liability insurance and personal accident cover for the adults only, provided that all adhere to this protocol.
Identify willing and responsible adults to drive and conduct the bus.
3.1 The maximum children to conductor ratios are (unless the circumstances outlined in 3.2 below apply):-
Juniors - 8 children to one conductor
Infants - 4 children to one conductor.
Where there is a combination of juniors and infants in a walking bus the maximum children to conductor ratios can be calculated:-
If the juniors are given a value of 1 point each and the infants a value of 2 points each, then the total combination of children to one conductor must not exceed 8 point
2 juniors and 3 infants (2 x 1) + (3 x 2) = 2 + 6 = 8 points
4 juniors and 2 infants (4 x 1) + (2 x 2) = 4 + 4 = 8 points
In addition, any pre-school children who are able to walk the route or be carried in a baby carrier, which allows the Conductor's hands to be free, are allowed to join the Walking Bus with the permission of the School, a member of the School Travel Plan Team and the Walking Bus adults. They will each be given a minimum point score of 4 which will count towards the ratios. If decided that reins or a wrist strap be used for certain children, then this will be recorded on the risk assessment, as well as any increase in point score.
2 infants and 1 pre-schooler (2x2) + 4 = 8 points
2 pre-schoolers 2 x 4 = 8 points
The maximum number of children in any bus is 20.
The driver has a separate role and must not be included in the ratios.
Alternatively please view our Walking Bus child to adult ratio table
3.2 The ratios set out in 3.1 may need to be reduced according to the routes used (e.g. difficult crossing points and narrow or no pavements) and the behaviour and road awareness of the children.
If the Walking Bus route is considered to be sufficiently separated or distant from the traffic, then if this is agreed by the School, a member of the School Travel Plan Team and the Walking Bus adults, changes may be made to the Walking Bus Protocol including amending the maximum ratios of adults to children, any changes made will be recorded on the risk assessment by the School Travel Plan Team member
Ensure that all adults have Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Disclosures and that they have been completed according to the guidelines laid down by Education Personnel Services.
Arrange an appointment with a member of the School Travel Plan (STP)Team to walk the proposed route(s). The Headteacher and/or a walking bus co-ordinator must be present. The route, crossing points and the bus stops can then be risk assessed by the team member.
Provide walking bus training for the co-ordinator(s), driver and conductor(s). Initially this must be delivered by a member of the STP Team. On some occasions new personnel can be trained by the Headteacher (if trained) or co-ordinator(s) but this is only at the discretion of the STP Team.
Ensure that training given to the driver and conductors will enable them to fulfil the roles set out in documents A and B. Compliance with these roles should be monitored.
Understand that the training is not general but specific to a route. Therefore it is important that the driver and conductors receive training for the route they will be walking.
Keep a record of the route map and risk assessment on file at the school. The map and assessment will include crossing points, bus stops and the names of trained adults. The STP Team must be informed of any new personnel and their training requirements.
Agree that if any part of the route cannot be used due to a temporary blockage e.g. road works or parked vehicles, the bus will need to divert. Safe crossing places must be found. The STP Team must be notified prior to the change of route or as soon as possible after the journey is completed.
Obtain fluorescent and reflective waistcoats/jackets for the driver, conductor and children to wear whilst the walking bus is operating.
Obtain written consent from parent(s)/guardian(s) for their child(ren) to walk as part of the bus.
Arrange meetings between the Headteacher and co-ordinator at least once a term so that the co-ordinator is supported and has an opportunity to discuss any issues and concerns that arise.
Understand that where the walking bus is operated by the school in breach of HCC protocols and guidance, or by a third party e.g. PTA, then the school or third party must do their own route assessment, protocol, risk assessments and training, and arrange their own insurance to cover the walking bus.