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Independent Travel Training

What is Independent Travel Training?

If a child currently travels to school or college on assisted transport and would like to travel on their own, then their own Independent Travel Trainer could help.

Working closely with the child's school or college we can help identify and practice the skills they need to be able to travel alone safely.

This could include road safety, telling the time, how to use a bus pass, appropriate social behaviour and strategies for solving problems.

As well as learning how to travel on the bus we can also help those who want to learn to walk to school or college.

Cycle training is not run by the Independent Travel Trainers, however it is available through the bikeability scheme in schools.

To find out more please follow the link below:

people on bus

Case Studies

Case Study 1

X was 18 years old but had no previous experience of independent travel.

He was referred as a possible candidate for travel training, although his family were doubtful that he would learn the necessary skills for safe travel. The trainer made contact with the family who were reassured by the time taken both to assess his needs and the route he would be taking. The trainer also liaised closely with tutors at college in order to look at any potential areas of difficulty or risk.

X had very weak literacy and numeracy skills, being able to recognise only a few words and only numbers up to 20. He had little experience of dealing with strangers appropriately or of asking for help and could not tell the time with any accuracy. In order to compensate for these weaknesses, strategies were put in place such as setting timers on his mobile phone and taking photographs of landmarks to help him remember the route. The orange "Access Wallet" was also used to hold important information and an emergency contact number which he could show to the bus driver if needed.

X was looking forward to travelling independently and a programme was put in place starting with two weeks of fully accompanied travel door to door. The trainer then worked on a daily basis teaching the journey in stages and after a week he was making the short walk to the bus stop on his own and meeting the trainer on the bus. He could show his bus pass and ring the bell for the correct stop without help.  After a further two weeks he could get off and walk the short distance to college on his own. He had developed a range of new skills including how to cross roads safely and what to do if he needed help.

A further week was spent building his confidence in his abilities, then the trainer gradually withdrew, shadowing him on the journey and only intervening if absolutely necessary. After six weeks X was travelling to college independetly and after a further three weeks was travelling in both directions safely and confidently.

As a result of learning these new skills X showed an interest in other routes and now finds his way independently to a local club for young people with special needs.

Case Study 2

Y (15 years old) attended a special referral unit for pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties. He had been travelling there in a taxi with three other pupils and his behaviour in the taxi had been very poor, leading to a member of staff asking if bus travel could be a solution.

The trainer met with staff and the student at the unit. They were able to identify the main travel issues, such as frustration with the taxi ride, a need for greater independence and choice, and a need to have more personal responsibility during the journey. It was quickly established that he had many of the skills necessary for safe travel but lacked the confidence to use them. He had been travelling by taxi for a considerable time and had become used to this. The trainer went through the bus route with him, offering to accompany him on the journey or to shadow him if he chose a more discreet form of support. Time was taken to explain and demonstrate appropriate social behaviour, how to deal with difficulties or frustrations and what to do if there was a problem.

Attendance and behaviour were carefully monitored during the trial period and the trainer remained closely involved at all times. Attendance was satisfactory and staff reported that behaviour was improved, with Y seeming calmer on arrival and during the school day. Y continued to travel succesfully on public transport for the rest of the year.

Case Study 3

Z has a visual impairment and was transferring from primary to mainstream secondary education with support. He was keen to use the bus so that he could travel independently with his peers.

The initial assessment was made with his mobility officer, who offered invaluable advice and expertise to the trainer. The trainer was able to offer a choice of routes which were discussed with the family so that the best solution could be found. A programme was then agreed of supported journeys during off-peak periods which enabled him to become familiar with the route in his own time. Issues included poor vision in bright sunlight or in poor weather conditions. The trainer continued to work with his mobility officer to build his confidence and deal with any potential problems.

After several journeys the trainer was able to gradually withdraw so that Z was doing the trip on his own, managing a change of bus and arriving safely at school.