Butterknowle Primary School walking bus
Butterknowle Primary School set up a Walking Bus to help reduce traffic congestion outside their school.
Butterknowle Primary School is located at one end of a small rural village approximately halfway between the market towns of Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle. From the outset it was recognised that those families living some distance away in outlying villages had no option but to use the car for their journey. There was, however, potential for families living within the village to walk - the village lies along a linear route thought perfect for walking.
As part of the Travel Plan the school were keen to overcome the barriers of a rural location and decided to set up a Walking Bus. The Walking Bus initially ran twice each morning (one bus to reach school in time for breakfast club, the other for the start of the school day) for a trial during National Walk to School Week. 12 children and 3 adults took part.
Following the successful trial in Walk to School Week, the Walking Bus became a permanent feature of school life.
Success of the initiative
Headteacher, Mr. Paul Ruane, said "The response to both the Walking Bus has been so positive that we have decided to continue with it permanently. Pupils are enjoying the social aspect and parents are acknowledging that they don't have to worry about their children getting to school safely; it's all taken care of by the Walking Bus supervisors."
The school are delighted with a recent OfSTED report that praises a healthy lifestyle including active travel choices. Initiatives that champion physical activity on a daily basis compliment the Healthy Schools ethos. It is apparent that attitudes can change and a lot can be achieved to make a big difference.
The school's Extended Services Coordinator, recognises the success of the Walking Bus, "Even the mixed weather forecast cannot dampen the spirits of the children and parents for their walk to school. We realise that, in a rural area, not all children can walk to school but we are raising awareness that reducing car use is important. Benefits of walking are not just physical - the walk to school is an opportunity to chat with others and engage with the local environment."
One pupil 'passenger' who joined the walking bus comments, "it is much more fun with the bus because there are more people to talk to - it's much better than being stuck inside the car!"
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