One challenge with Walking Bus schemes is in getting older children interested in participating. By starting a Junior Conductor Scheme you may can get round this problem.
How Does it Work?
Children age 8 and over (ie in Junior year groups) join the Walking Bus as helpers and help the adults by handing out stickers and 'buddy walking' with younger children in the group.
They do not replace the official adult volunteers but they can be really helpful with the younger children. Infants who previously would only walk next to mum or dad now walk side by side with Juniors who enjoy their responsible role.
Junior Conductors may receive informal training from a local police or road safety officer. This could be just a 20 minute session one lunch time with some basic pedestrian training and a discussion about walking on the Walking Bus (see our 'Guidance for Walkers' for ideas). They may be presented with certificates and a special Junior Conductor reflective badge.
This scheme was originally created for participants in the Geddington Primary School Walking Bus, Northants by us (as parents) in 2003 and has since been introduced to many schools across the UK.
- This can build friendships between children of different ages from the same neighbourhood.
- The younger children may be more receptive to Juniors reminding them to look before they cross the road than if a parent tells them.
- This role can help the Juniors to gain better road safety skills and awareness which makes them better prepared for independent walking and secondary school.
- By involving Juniors with the Walking Bus you are helping make the Walking Bus more attractive to all age groups. Those juniors who are still driven to school may then want to change their habits and their parents may let them.
- If the Juniors are already walking to school independently or with friends then asking them to walk with a group including adults can be a step backwards. It is important that older Juniors gain enough independence to walk to school confidently and safely without adults. However, they may like to join the Walking Bus as junior conductors just on certain days; if they are on a 'rota' it can add to their feeling of responsibility.