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Auckland Transport

The walking school bus merit schemeWSB merit scheme

The merit scheme aims to recognise and profile the road safety, health and social skills that children develop as a result of being part of the Walking School Bus (WSB) programme.  

As children walk to school they receive a stamp and/or click on a ticket. When tickets are completed children receive a corresponding merit key tag. These key tags are then clipped onto their WSB carabiner. In addition to walking key tags there are special skill key tags that can also be earned.

Walking School Bus Key Tags

How the WSB Merit Scheme works

A starter pack is sent to each Walking School Bus which includes:

  1. WSB tickets - these will need to be kept by each Parent Coordinator as evidence of the child's achievement.
  2. Additional WSB bag tags on carabiners for children who may not alraedy have one.
  3. Initial sets of 6 different merit key tags (which can attach to the WSB carabiners and onto school bags). Merit key tags will be given to a child once the child has achieved the merit criteria e.e. a child has walked 50 times on the WSB, thus they receive the first merit '50 walks'. Each merit level has a corresponding key tag.
  4. A sample recording sheet to keep track of each child's achievements and which merit key tags they have been issued with.
  5. A criteria card for the children so they know how to achieve each merit key tag. Children can also keep a record of which merit key tags they've attained on this criteria card (PDF 368KB).

If you are a WSB Coordinator, you will be able to implement the scheme with your own walking school buses. However, your Community Transport Coordinator will be available to assist with any questions that you may have.

It is recommended that merit key tags are awarded at school assembly. By doing this the School is supporting your WSB and it will showcase the benefits of the WSB to new students.

Benefits of the Merit Scheme

  • Children work towards achieving each merit key tag, giving longevity to their involvement on the Walking School Bus.   
  • There will be Leadership and Road Safety merit key tags to keep older children engaged.  
  • There is a Winter Walker merit key tag to encourage children to keep walking though the colder, wetter months.
  • Merit key tags can be presented at school assembly which provides promotional opportunity for your Walking School Buses. 
  • The merit key tags make up a set of collectables that children can work towards attaining rather than constantly requiring one-off resources.

How do I register my WSB for this scheme?

Simply complete the online order form below and once you have registered your school will be sent a starter pack within the month.

Register for The Walking School Bus Merit Scheme

The starter park will include the following:

  • An information brochure
  • WSB tickets
  • Spare WSB bag tags on carabiners (for children who may not have one yet)
  • Sets of 6 of the merit key tags
  • A recording sheet for the coordinator
  • Criteria cards for the children so that they know how to achieve each merit key tag

Your questions answered

1. How do I register my Walking School Bus (WSB) for this scheme?

Simply fill in the online form for each WSB route you wish to register.

2. When does the Merit Scheme start?

The Merit Scheme started in Term 3 2014. As soon as you have received your starter pack you are able to start the scheme at your school.

3. How do I get started?

Register your WSB route and you will receive a Starter Pack in the post. The pack includes:

  • An information brochure
  • WSB tickets
  • Spare WSB bag tags on carabiners (for children who may not have one yet)
  • Sets of 6 of the merit key tags
  • A recording sheet for the coordinator
  • Criteria cards for the children so that they know how to achieve each merit key tag

You may wish to have a launch of the Merit Scheme at school assembly or at a WSB milo and muffin morning, where you explain the scheme to the WSB children and issue them with their criteria cards and new WSB tickets.

4. Is the Merit Scheme compulsory?

No, it is not compulsory. However, the intention of the scheme is to recognise and profile the road safety, health and social skills that children develop from being involved with the WSB programme as well as to encourage children to stay on the WSB for longer, modelling positive walking behaviour to others.

5. How do I keep track of the number of walks for each child on the WSB route?

The Merit Scheme uses the WSB tickets to record 25 walks at a time. In your Starter Pack you will receive a recording sheet to mark off as each child completes another ticket. In this way you can keep track of how many walks they have completed toward each milestone key tag and issue the tags when each is earned.

6. If my WSB children have already been walking for over a year can they be fast-tracked to receive the 50, 100 or 200 walks merit key tags?

No, all children must start counting walks on new tickets from the date you introduce the scheme at your school.

7. What kind of leadership tasks can I give to the older children so they can earn the leadership merit key tag?

Leadership tasks could include:

  • Buddying new children on the WSB
  • Clicking and marking tickets
  • Walking at the front and checking for hazards
  • Being a ‘Conductor’ at the rear of the bus to keep everyone in a group
  • Marking off the Merit Scheme recording sheet when children complete tickets
  • Organising milo and muffin mornings for the WSB

8. What happens when I have extra children join my WSB and I need extra key tags?

You can now order these in small packs of 5 key tags. Click here to view the online order form. Distribution will occur at the end of each month for orders placed during that month.

Similarly, please fill out this order form if a child needs a replacement key tag.

9. If a child’s carabiner gets too full, can I order another?

Yes. If you require additional carabiners you will be able to order these with the bag tags in small packs of 5 via the online order form. Distribution will occur at the end of each month for orders placed during that month.

10. Will there be additional key tags for the children to walk towards in the future when they have achieved all of the key tags in the Starter Pack?

Yes. There will be new key tags introduced each year to keep the scheme current and encourage children to stay on the WSB.

11. Will the Merit Scheme key tags replace other WSB resources such as rulers, pencils, wristbands etc.?

Yes. However, if you choose not to use the Merit Scheme with your WSB, you will still have access to discretionary funding that you can use to purchase incentives for WSB promotions on your route.

12. Why are we introducing a Merit Scheme?

This scheme addresses several needs that have developed with the growth and success of the WSB programme:

  • Children work towards achieving each merit key tag which encourages them to stay on the WSB for a longer period.
  • By presenting the merit key tags together as a set of collectables, there is more incentive to work towards achieving them all. This means that you will not be required to be handing out one-off resources all the time.
  • Older children are encouraged to remain on the WSB as mentors for the younger children by engaging them with the Road Safety and Leadership merit key tags.
  • A Winter Walker merit key tag encourages higher participation in the cold, wet months.
  • Merit key tags are attractive and desirable, and by presenting them at assemblies they provide additional promotion for your WSB.

Walking School Bus