How a Walking School Bus works How a Walking School Bus works

How a Walking School Bus works

Children are collected from stops along a planned route and dropped off at the school gate. Along the way they learn how to safely negotiate the road as well as socialise with friends and neighbours, improve fitness and arrive energised at school ready to learn.

  • Routes vary in length, usually about 1.5 km and/or a 30 minute walk, but they can be longer or shorter.
  • Start times and locations depend on the length of your route and school start and finish times.
  • A Walking School Bus can operate all 5 days of the school week or as little as 1 day per week.
  • It can operate in the morning, after school or both depending on the availability of adult volunteers and what works best for your team of bus drivers.

Age and number of children

  • Walking School Buses are for primary school children and are popular with 5 to 8 year olds, who are still developing road safety skills and are at greater risk of being injured crossing the road alone.
  • Older children may enjoy the bus when given responsibilities, such as looking after younger children or watching for ‘sneaky driveways’.
  • Schools can support and encourage older children to do this by rewarding them or involving them in a student leadership programme.
  • There is no restriction to the number of children and adults that can be on a Walking School Bus as long as the recommended ratio of 1 adult to 8 children is adhered to.
  • Pre-school children who are walking are included in the ratio; pre-school children in pushchairs are not.

The Walking School Bus pledge

The Walking School Bus pledge is a tool we provide parents to help manage kids behaviour on the Walking School Bus.

Each child signs when joining a Walking School Bus, agreeing to follow the road safety rules and to listen to the conductors instructions.

The Walking School Bus merit scheme

Walking School bus tickets and key tags

The merit scheme is to recognise and profile the road safety, health and social skills that children develop from being involved with the Walking School Bus programme, as well as to encourage children to stay on the Walking School Bus for longer, modelling positive walking behaviour to others.

Walking School Buses will need to register for the merit scheme.

Tickets and key tag rewards

As children walk to and from school they receive a stamp and/or clip on a ticket. When tickets are completed, children receive a corresponding merit key tag.

These key tags are then attached onto their carabiner. In addition to walking key tags there are special skill key tags that can also be earned.

Benefits of the merit scheme

  • Children work towards achieving each merit key tag, giving longevity to their involvement on the Walking School Bus.
  • There are 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.

Find out how to register and manage the Walking School Bus merit scheme.

Student leadership programme

The student leadership programme is to help strengthen safety on Walking School Buses and keep older children (Year 5 to 8) engaged and walking on the Walking School Bus for longer.

The programme provides leadership opportunities such as a back up in case of parent absences or increased student numbers. However the senior students will serve as 'student leaders', not a replacement of an adult on the Walking School Bus.

Student leader licences

Students participate in a training programme to become 'student leaders' and are issued with a licence (Learner, Restricted and Full) when they have achieved a set of key skills.

The adult in charge of the Walking School Bus signs off each skill (one at a time) when they are confident the student is reliably demonstrating a skill.

Student leader licenses

Benefits of the student leadership programme

  • Increases safety and leadership on the Walking School Bus route.
  • Provides recognition of a student's leadership status within the Walking School Bus and school.
  • Improves links in the community between Primary and Intermediate schools.

Find out about starting the Student leadership programme.

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