Helping You Promote Walking to School, Cycling and Road Safety

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Formal Walking Bus

A formal Walking Bus is when children walk to school in an organised group wearing fluorescent, reflective jackets

and are accompanied by registered volunteers. The volunteers are usually parents or carers of the children participating who take turns at helping out on a rota basis. One of the volunteers or possibly a staff member is a coordinator.


Because the volunteers are taking responsibility for other people's children, certain criteria need to be fulfilled to start a formal Walking Bus scheme. Once the following or similar requirements have been met, most UK local authorities are able to provide free liability insurance for formal Walking Bus schemes in their area. The requirements may vary from area to area but these are a general guide:

  • Police Checks:  The volunteers need to be police checked (CRB enhanced disclosure). This can be done through the school and is usually free for volunteers. Some parents will already have this done if they regualarly go in to help at school or are governors. At the moment if volunteers are CRB checked through other organisations (eg scouts, sports coaching) they still need to be checked through the school, although this is being reviewed and may change (we will try to keep you up to date!).
  • Volunteer Registration: Volunteers also need to be registered (complete and sign a form for the coordinator) and a list of volunteer names given to the local authority road safety or school travel coordinator.
  • Volunteer Training:  Local authorities providing insurance may require the volunteers to be trained which can be carried out by road safety departments. Yes I know... we all are sensible enough to know how to walk our kids to school! However the training covers a few aspects of how to safely walk a large group of children. For example, keeping an adult at very front and very back and putting slowest walkers near the front to keep the group together makes it easier and safer for all. Much as we would like to, as Walking Bus volunteers we are not actually allowed to stop traffic and we can't use 'lollipop stop signs' to stop the traffic.
  • Risk Assessment of Route:The routes to be used are risk assessed (usually by a road safety officer) and approved. A parent who already is familiar with the route is often involved with this.
  • Information and Agreements: All participants including children, volunteers and parents are given information on how the scheme works and need to sign agreements. These may be provided by your local authority. Contact us if you would like to see example forms.
  • High Visibility: All volunteers and children taking part wear high visibility clothing such as a fluorescent, reflective waistcoat, sash or cap. This is usually a requirement of the insurance.

A Quick Start

  • In reality it takes a while to set this all up. If parents are keen to get started it is a shame to delay it. So why not start with an informal walking bus where parents all join with their own children?