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How to support walking and cycling to and from school

How can schools support walking and cycling to school?

There are several ways that schools can support walking and cycling to school which can support pupils to build independence skills around travel. This can help them as they move from primary to secondary school and become adults. Children must learn how to travel safely when walking or cycling but schools should also encourage parents to support their children to walk or cycle the school journey, where it is safe to do so. This section sets out ideas and tried and tested ways to build a walking and cycling culture at school and with the wider school community.

How do I get cycle training for my school?

Cycle training, delivered through the Bikeability scheme, is often a rite of passage for children and is seen as a valuable training opportunity that can support children being more independent. Bikeability may be the only training opportunity young cyclists receive before going out on the roads. Therefore, all schools should have some Bikeability training to ensure that young cyclists develop good habits from trained instructors. Many schools require that children have passed Level 2 Bikeability training before the school allows children to cycle to their school unaccompanied.  

Your school’s local authority usually offers Bikeability cycle training. The local authority cycle officer or school travel team will often approach schools to offer Bikeability Levels 1 and 2. However, there may not be enough cycle training to go around all the schools. If your school has not been approached and offered cycle training for your school’s pupils, you should contact your local cycling officer to discuss having it at your school. 

What is Bikeability?

Bikeability is a national scheme run by the Department for Transport in England and Wales and by Cycling Scotland in Scotland. Bikeability training courses are offered at three different, consecutive levels:


Bikeability Level 1

This course is usually run with Y3/4 in England and Wales or P4/5 pupils in Scotland (ages seven to nine). This is the starter level, where children are expected to be able to balance on their bikes and not be using stabilisers anymore before starting their training. This course only takes place on the playground, so no on-road cycling will occur. 
There are five areas to cover before being able to move on to Level 2:

  • Maintain your cycle: make sure your ride is in tip-top condition and make simple repairs

  • Glide: smooth, calm and collected

  • Control your bike: including setting off, cruising, slowing down, braking and stopping. You’ll even learn to pedal one-handed

  • Pedal: without feeling wobbly or out of control

  • Be aware of your surroundings: looking behind and turning around obstacles.

Bikeability Level 2

This course follows Level 1 and is usually offered to Y5/6 in England and Wales and P6/7 in Scotland (ages 9-11). Children typically practise skills on the playground first and then go out on the road, learning fundamental life cycle skills including: 

  • Start and stop with more confidence

  • Pass stationary vehicles parked on a road

  • Understand the road: signals, signs and road markings

  • Negotiate the road: including quiet junctions, crossroads and roundabouts

  • Share the road with other vehicles.


Bikeability Level 3

This is the advanced course and is usually offered through secondary schools (11+ age). It is run in smaller groups or one-to-one, and is tailored to the needs of the individual trainee. This level of training is not automatically offered to secondary schools, and should be requested by the school if they want it for students who already cycle. More advanced skills covered in this level include:

  • Use the best riding position for any situation 

  • Ride alongside other cyclists 

  • Ride on more challenging roads. This might include busier roads, more complicated junctions or faster roads with speed limits above 30mph

  • Negotiate more complex roads. For example, junctions controlled by traffic lights, multi-lane roads or cycle lanes.


Bikeability in England and Wales also offers additional modules from starting to ride a bike to others aimed at parents called Bikeability Plus.

How do I encourage and support scootering to school?

Many children want to scooter to school as they see it as fun and more exciting than walking. It is an easy way for younger children to travel to school, and these children can learn how to control a scooter as part of their preparation to learn how to cycle. In addition, many schools now have scooter storage or allow children to leave scooters in bike storage while children are at school. 

There are several providers, nationwide, who offer scooter training to children, usually through local authority Active Travel teams. This training includes learning control skills for scooters and dealing with issues such as cars coming out of driveways and crossing roads while scootering. This training can also support children walking and cycling to school, reinforcing and reminding children of pedestrian training skills learnt in the foundation/early stage of school. 

Having a safe, roadworthy scooter in the first place is essential and means that children are safer when scootering to school. We have created a scooter safety checklist, which can be downloaded and shared within the school community to ensure that scooters are 'pavement-worthy'. There are several ways for schools to support scootering to school, which are outlined below:

  • Writing a ‘scootering to school’ policy 

Schools can create a scooter policy as part of broader policies around travelling to school. This policy should set out the school's expectations around scootering behaviour to and from school, how to enter the school premises on a scooter and where to store scooters on the school site. The policy may be a document that parents sign to say they will adhere to policy rules, including responsibility around scooter storage and liability. Brighton and Hove City Council, Torbay Council and Hampshire County Council have some rules and information that a school could include in their scooter to school policy. We have created an ‘Example Scooter to School Policy’, which can be downloaded from this page and used as the basis for your school’s own scoot to school policy. 

  • Scooter storage 

Many companies sell scooter-specific storage for schools, which can come in many forms. This type of storage is very popular with children and is another way to encourage scootering to school and show school support. Not all scooter racks are the same. Some types of scooter storage are lockable, while others are not. So, some thought is needed around the kind of storage your school would need. Often where a school has lockable cycle storage, scooter storage can be placed there. If you would like scooter storage for your school, speak to the Transport or Active Travel team at your local council to see if they can help you. 

  • Events and promotion

Schools can run events encouraging scootering to school for one day a year or at different points in the year. Events could include a scooter-to-school day, where children could be celebrated and entered into a prize draw, and information about safe scootering is handed out to parents. This could follow the scooter training that the school has set up. Your local council's Active Travel team can provide support for events and promotion around scootering to school. 

How to be safe when scootering on pavements?

Schools should encourage parents to consider how they are getting to school and warn them about particular issues they may face when their child scooters to school. As scootering to school involves using the pavement, children must be aware of potential danger spots where traffic may cross the pavement. These include driveways (where cars may pull out or reverse out and not see a child scootering) or road crossing points (where drivers expect everyone to follow road rules and only cross when safe). Parents should be encouraged to talk with their children about safe scootering to school and issues around points where traffic and scooters may meet on the pavement and road. A ‘Scooter Safety Checklist’ has been created, which can be shared with parents, to ensure that children can keep their scooters in top condition.

How do I promote walking and cycling to school?

Schools have a part to play in their local community and this can include promoting walking and cycling to school to reduce the impact of the school run. Many school run journeys are within walking and cycling distance, and there are often safety issues and complaints from neighbours where a significant number of parents drop off and pick up. While encouraging walking and cycling may seem outside the remit of schools, it can improve a school's reputation around their community and lead to children who are fitter, more independent and with better skills around road safety. In this section, you will find ideas for tackling barriers that parents and the school community may face around walking and cycling to school. 

How can schools encourage parents to walk or cycle to school?

Parents often advise that they drive the school journey as they feel that children are unsafe on the roads without them, and may not feel they have the time to walk or cycle to school. Traffic outside schools can compound this feeling of unsafe walking or cycling. However, schools can make a difference. Keeping pupils safe in and around the school premises and on the school journey is a crucial way to get parents supportive of walking and cycling. Some ideas include:


Policy around entering/exiting the school premises

A clear policy around exiting and entering the school premises will ensure that everyone is safe, including pupils walking, cycling and scootering in and out of school. There may be specific exits/entries that work best for cycling or walking (e.g. close to a crossing point or cycle path). It is common for pupils to not look out for others when cycling out of a school onto the pavement or into the road, and for parents to not park or drive considerately around the school gates as they are focused on getting their child into school and not on others. Your policy should set out that the school supports walking and cycling and seeks to move cars from outside the school gates as much as possible. We have created ‘School Site Road Safety’ guidance, with a focus on keeping the school community safe in and around the school premises.


Policy around the school journey supporting safe walking and cycling 

Having a clear policy around the school journey is also recommended. This policy should set out the school's support for safe walking and cycling and can provide a framework for events and promotional work around walking and cycling during the school year. Although parents may choose to drive, having this policy in place will make it clear that the school supports walking and cycling. It is recommended that if the school has issues around inconsiderate parking and driving, the school uses the home-school agreement to set out expectations for any new parents around parking near or driving to and from school. Examples of school cycling policies can be found online from Buckinghamshire Council and Herne Bay Juniors. An example of a walking-to-school policy is from St Brigid RC Primary school in Manchester.


When are the national events for walking and cycling to school?

Schools can participate in many national events around walking and cycling. Here is a list of national events that happen each year:

How do you teach kids about safe walking and cycling at school?

Taking every opportunity to teach road safety, to support safe walking and cycling, is recommended to help children develop skills around independence and making the right choices around travelling to and from school, as well as for other trips they might make. While it is up to parents to teach road safety and model good road safety behaviours, many parents may feel that the school should be doing this too, so providing some road safety education in class and out on the road is important. 

How does safe walking and cycling link to the national curriculum?

There is no statutory requirement to teach road safety within the curriculum. However, many schools cover road safety through their PSHE curriculum or dedicated practical road safety sessions for pedestrians and cyclists. There are specific skills and learning outcomes that children are expected to have achieved within different Key Stage levels around road safety for walking and cycling, which are outlined below, alongside how road safety
links to the curriculum: 


Foundation/Early Stage 

  • Initial sessions around road safety linked to ‘People who help us’ topic. Looking at school crossing patrols and why they’re needed

  • Ideas from the Government’s Think! campaign on what can be taught can be found here.

  • Skills and learning outcomes: Children at this stage should:

    • Know that when walking with an adult, they should be holding their hand when near a road

    • Know the difference between a pavement, footpath and a road, and 

    • Have been taught to Stop, Look, Listen and Think while out on the road. We have created a document which provides further information on ‘Stop, Look, Listen and Think and the Green Cross Code.


Key Stage 1/ First Level

  • Practical pedestrian training, where a pedestrian trainer will take children out of school to practise pedestrian road safety skills

  • Classroom sessions that introduce and reinforce pedestrian training skills, usually at the same time as pedestrian training sessions or later as a reminder

  • Ideas from the Government’s Think! campaign on what can be taught can be found here

  • Skills and learning outcomes: Children at this stage should:

    • Know that walking and cycling are healthy for them

    • Understand the ‘Stop, Look, Listen and Think’ instruction. We have created a document to provide advice on this: the ‘Stop, Look Listen and Think and the Green Cross Code

    • Know that cars and other vehicles travel on the road and pedestrians travel on the pavement, except when crossing the road

    • Be able to ride a bike using stabilisers.


Key Stage 2/ Secondary Level

  • Be Safe, Be Seen promotions and links to the science curriculum 

  • Bikeability cycle training scheme (Levels 1 and 2 - preparation and on-road training)

  • Supporting more independent travel for those pupils moving on to secondary school from Y6/P7

  • Dedicated Focus Days, where road safety and safe walking and cycling can be investigated across all year groups

  • Ideas from the Government’s Think! campaign on what can be taught can be found here

  • Skills and learning outcomes: Children at this stage should:

    • Know and understand the Green Cross Code and know where it is safe to cross the road. We have created a document which provides further information on this: ‘Stop, Look Listen and Think and the Green Cross Code

    • Understand some road signs and be aware of the Highway Code

    • Have had cycle training as part of Bikeability 

    • Be confident in getting to secondary school before moving on to Stage 3.


Key Stage 3 and 4/ Third and Fourth Levels

  • PSHE and Citizenship curriculum activities. Examples of secondary and primary ideas around safe walking and cycling can be found in our ‘Ideas for including safe walking and cycling in the curriculum’ factsheet

  • Bikeability Level 3 (advanced cycle training) may be offered to children as part of the curriculum or as an extra-curricular activity

  • Ideas from the Government’s Think! campaign on what can be taught can be found here

  • Children at this stage should:

    • Be able to travel independently to and from school, including walking and cycling

    • Understand the risk and effect of behaviour on safety when walking or cycling. 


We have created a number of resources to support primary schools in teaching pedestrian training to their children. These include:

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