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Safe travel

Walking Bus

Walking Bus Guidelines & Code of Conduct

What is a Walking Bus?

  • A Walking Bus is a safe and fun way for groups of children to walk to school together, accompanied by trained adult volunteers.
  • It allows them to develop good road sense and learn about traffic safety within their own neighbourhood whilst supervised by adults. The physical exercise means they arrive at school alert and ready to learn.
  • Devon County Council provides support for parents and schools who wish to set up walking buses. This includes advice on routes, training, and insurance for Devon County Council maintained schools.
  • Walking Bus scheme is school based. It is run by the school community for the benefit of parents and children in the school.
  • Parents are encouraged to allow their children to take part and, if possible, to assist themselves.
  • As with a normal bus, the Walking Bus will follow a fixed route picking up children from bus stops at set times along the route.

The benefits of a Walking Bus

  • Health – provides exercise for children and volunteers.
  • Safety – children learn valuable road safety skills.
  • Less Pollution – local air quality improves.
  • Less congestion – reduces traffic around schools.
  • It is fun and a sociable way to start the day.

Route selection

  • The Council’s Road Safety team and the Walking Bus Co-ordinator/s will ensure that chosen routes are suitable and as safe as possible.
  • It is vital that the route is manageable for the children that will be walking it.

Insurance

Devon County Council maintained Schools

  • Devon County Council maintained Schools and the Walking Bus volunteers will be insured under the Council’s public liability policy.
  • They will be insured when the Waking Bus is operated in accordance with these Guidelines and the risk assessment. This includes any other advice or instruction received from the Council’s Road Safety team.
  • This is a limited policy and does not provide cover for personal accidents.

Non-Devon County Council schools

  • Non-Devon County Council schools will have to make their own insurance arrangements.
  • The Council’s insurance is limited to the Council’s schools.
  • It is likely a school’s existing policy will cover staff and volunteers, but this will need to be checked with the insurers.

Safety equipment

  • Fluorescent, high visibility coats, reflective tabards or waistcoats are required and are to be provided by the School.
  • Coats may be for suitable for the adults and tabards/waistcoats for the children.
  • The Health and Safety Executive website advises the British Standard for high visibility warning clothing is BS EN 471. http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/factsheets/clothing.htm 

Consent Form and incentives

  • Before a child can use a Walking Bus service a consent form must be completed by the parent or guardian.
  • The success of any Walking Bus scheme will be dependent on the enthusiastic support of the children and adult volunteers.
  • It is suggested that an incentive scheme is set up by each school, perhaps based on regular attendance.

Setting up a Walking Bus

Appoint a Walking Bus Co-ordinator.

A Walking Bus Co-ordinator should be chosen to set up and run the scheme in accordance to these Guidelines.

Assess Parental Interest & Support

Communicate with parents to find out:
• Potential number of children who might use the Walking Bus.
• Potential number of volunteers.
• Best times the bus could run.
• Potential routes.
• Contact details of those interested.

Identify a Route

  • Plot location of pupils wanting to use the Walking Bus on a map.
  • Plan a safe route. Remember that the route will be risk assessed prior to it being accepted.
  • Identify locations for bus stops. Locations where appropriate parking is available will help parents use the Walking Bus.
  • Some Walking Buses, especially for shorter distances, may have just a start and end point and no bus stops on route.
  • Be aware of distance and times. Both should be appropriate for the children walking it.

Adult Volunteers

  • Each school will have a system for vetting volunteers and the Co-ordinator will be responsible with following this procedure.
  • All volunteers must be DBS checked, attend the Walking Bus training and adhere to these Guidelines.
  • The Co-ordinator will plan a meeting for Volunteers to explain their roles and responsibilities will be explained, as well as ensuring that these guidelines are read and understood. Additional volunteers wishing to assist should also attend.
  • The energy and commitment of the volunteers will make a scheme flourish.

Calculate Ratios

  • The ratio of 1 Volunteer to 8 children should be strictly adhered to for insurance purposes. A minimum of 2 adults is required at all times.
  • The use of a push chair or wheelchair will require 1:1 management and therefore any adult with one should be used as an additional volunteer.
  • A maximum of 16 children is allowed on a Walking Bus. If numbers exceed this an additional bus should be run.
  • The Walking Bus should never be operated by one person alone.

Route Risk Assessment

  • When the route has been identified contact rshelp@devon.gov.uk
  • The route route risk assessment can be carried out with the Road safety team, the Co-ordinator and the school.
  • The suitability of routes will need to be reviewed on a routine basis and particularly if any significant changes occur.
  • Volunteers will be encouraged to report any changes or concerns they may have.
  • Each risk assessment should be reviewed annually by the school to be covered by insurance.

Create a timetable and rota

  • Create timetables and rotas that match the availability of the Volunteers, ensuring timings allow for pupils to get to school on time.
  • Give parents as much notice as possible if the Walking Bus cannot run.

Consent & Responsibility

 Prior to commencement the Co-ordinator must obtain Consent Forms from the parents or guardians of each child using the Walking Bus.

The transfer of responsibility from parent to school occurs when the Walking Bus Volunteers pick up the child.  Similarly, the transfer from school to parent occurs when the child is dropped off at their designated bus stop.

Schools should agree a procedure to implement in the event that a child or parent fails to arrive at a designated bus stop on time.

If a parent allows their child to walk home from their designated bus stop without adult supervision, the Co-Ordinator must be informed prior to this and the relevant section of the Consent Form must be completed and is the only situation where a child would be allowed to leave the Walking Bus without an adult.

Incidents

  • Volunteers should be encouraged to carry a mobile phone at all times if possible.
  • The phone should contain a number at the school that can be contacted if there is an incident that needs to be reported straight away. If there is a serious emergency on route to or from school call 999.

Code of Conduct

Walking Bus Co-ordinators Responsibilities

  • Responsible for the setup, management and maintenance of the Walking Bus.
  • Recruit, train and co-ordinate Volunteers.
  • Ensure relevant Covid-19 measures are implemented e.g. Social Distancing, hygiene, face coverings

Walking Bus Volunteer Responsibilities

  • Ensure relevant Covid-19 measures are implemented e.g. Social Distancing, hygiene, face coverings
  • Ensure the agreed adult to child ratio is not exceeded.
  • Ensure instructions are clear and easily understood.
  • Ensure children are reminded about how the bus operates.
  • Ensure children are met at agreed stops and times.
  • Ensure children stay within the Walking Bus formation:
    • Children walking in pairs with Volunteer leading and Volunteer behind group.
    • Children may be asked to walk in single file if the footway is narrow.
    • Volunteers are to adopt a position on the outside corners of the bus, so they are between traffic and the children, especially when walking on the road.
  • Ensure all participants wear the appropriate high visibility clothing.
  • Ensure children are kept away from the kerb wherever possible.
  • Ensure group respects other road users, especially other pedestrians.
  • Ensure driveways are checked for moving vehicles.
  • Ensure crossing roads is kept to a minimum and only specified places used.
  • Ensure children stop prior to crossing a road.
  • Ensure the rules of the Green Cross Code are applied when crossing roads.
  • Use this opportunity to give road safety advice to the children
  • Walking Bus volunteers ARE NOT empowered to stop traffic. If a vehicle stops to allow a group to cross it is vital to check that other vehicles are aware of what is happening and have stopped prior to crossing the group.
  • Keep accurate records of times and stops children are to be picked up from.
  • Carry mobile phone with current contact numbers.
  • Avoid distractions or activities such as talking to friends, using a music player or other device, or using a mobile phone inappropriately.
  • Attend Walking Bus training arranged by Co-ordinator. During training areas for discussion should include:
    • Use of mobile phones
    • Dealing with problem children. Poor behaviour should be reported to the Head Teacher. Persistent misbehaviour, where it compromises the safety of other children using the bus, will be reported to the parent or guardian and may result in the child no longer being allowed to walk with the bus.
    • Dealing with reporting changing circumstance – e.g. reporting road works requiring a route change
    • Using crossing places – supervising the children across the carriageway
    • Keeping time with the set schedule
    • Pacing the journey for distance, stop times and the abilities of the children
    • The possible role of volunteers in providing road safety awareness to children on route
    • General control and management of children on the highway
    • Procedures for dealing with incidents
    • Arrangements for circumstances in which parents fail to collect children on time from their bus stop and/or parents failing to get their child to the walking bus on time – i.e. they will need to make alternative arrangements
  • Concerns regarding the safety of the Walking Bus passengers or route should be raised with the school. Further advice should be obtained from the Road Safety Team.

Parent or Guardian Responsibility

  • Read, sign and return the Consent Form prior to their child using the bus.
  • Inform the Co-ordinator if their child will not be using the bus.
  • Ensure the Co-ordinator has current and correct contact details.
  • Ensure that their children understand how the bus works and that they behave sensibly and obey instructions given by the Volunteers.
  • Retain responsibility for their child’s safety to and from designated bus stop.
  • Ensure children arrive on time at designated bus stop.
  • To get their child to or from school should they miss the Walking Bus.

Children’s responsibilities

  • To wear the appropriate high visibility clothing.
  • Obey instructions given by Volunteers.
  • Behave when using Walking Bus.
  • Remain vigilant and look out for traffic and hazards

Parental Consent form

Parental consent must be obtained. Schools will have standard consent forms that can be adapted  However, it is recommended to include the following:

  • Days / a.m and/or p.m. when child will use the Walking Bus.
  • Which ‘walking bus stop’ the child will leave or join.
  • Details of any special medical needs
  • Agreement of parent e.g.:
    • “I realise that my child’s journey to school is still my responsibility even though they will be using the walking bus.
    • I will make sure that my child is at the stop at the listed time and that they wear the high-visibility clothing provided while on the walking bus.
    • I will make sure that my child is collected from the stop on the return journey home either by myself or a designated person
    • I have read the guidelines and explained to my child the need for good behaviour.
  • Name and contact details of other people who may collect the child.”
  • Parent and child ‘promise’ e.g.

Parent’s Promise.

“I promise I have:

  • Talked to my child about road safety on the walking bus
  • Made sure that my child understands how the bus operates
  • Made sure my child knows where the afternoon stop is
  • Made sure that my child knows what is expected of him / her
  • Made sure that my child knows what days they are travelling
  • Discussed with my child what to do if things go wrong e.g. misses the bus or not met as expected
    Agreed to contact the bus co-ordinator if my details change
  • Talked to my child about road safety on the walking bus
  • Made sure that my child understands how the bus operates
  • Made sure my child knows where the afternoon stop is
  • Made sure that my child knows what is expected of him / her
  • Made sure that my child knows what days they are travelling
  • Discussed with my child what to do if things go wrong e.g.
    • He / she misses the bus
    • He / she is not met as expected at the stop after school
  • Agreed to contact the bus co-ordinator if my details change

I am aware that I am responsible for:

  • Ensuring that my child arrives at the walking bus stop on time
  • Ensuring that my child gets to school if they miss the walking bus
  • Ensuring that I, or a designated person, is waiting at the stop to collect my child after school.
  • Informing the school / co-ordinator if my child will not be using the walking bus”

Child’s Promise.
“When I join the walking bus I promise to:

  • Behave sensibly all the time.
  • Obey the instructions given by the volunteer/s.
  • Wear the fluorescent jacket I will be given.
  • Walk in a pair where possible.
  • Remember to STOP, LOOK, LISTEN and THINK when I am near roads.
  • Look after my own safety and not cause danger to others.
  • Always travel on the walking bus on the days I am expected to.
  • Arrive on time at the stop, before AND after school.

To book a Road safety visit to assess your Walking Bus route, request template consent forms or any queries please email rshelp@devon.gov.uk  


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