a walking bus protocol by lindash



The walking bus is an organised walking group led by adults. Parents wait at a
series of ‘bus stops’ for volunteers to escort their children to school. The volunteers
are called ‘driver’ and ‘conductor’ and will be expected to take responsibility for the
safety of the children whilst in their care.

Headteachers and governors need to understand that the management responsibility
is with them. There is a need to:

1       Identify willing and responsible adults to drive and conduct the bus. In deciding
        the number of conductors required it is necessary to look at the number, age and
        experience of the children involved and the route itself, before making decisions
        on the pupil/conductor ratio:

        In addition to the driver: - Infants – Ratio 1 Conductor to 4 children
                                   - Juniors – Ratio 1 Conductor to 8 children

        The driver who has a separate role must not be included in the ratios

        However, these are maximum numbers and many route risk assessments or the
        assessment of pupil capabilities would require a reduction in these ratios

        The route risk assessment will also determine the size of the bus. It is not
        recommended that any bus carry over 20 passengers. Where more than 20
        passengers are travelling, they should be split into separate buses for staffing and
        travel purposes

2       Organise Criminal Record Bureau checks for the driver and conductor(s) before
        they are place in a supervisory position

3       Provide training for the driver and conductor and keep records of such training.
        The Road Safety Team should be contacted to assist the planning and delivery of

4       Obtain reflective/fluorescent clothing for the driver, conductor and pupils, which
        must be worn on all occasions

5       Establish contingency plans to cover sickness and holidays of driver and
        conductors. No bus should commence without the required and agreed number of

6       Risk-assess local routes to establish a suitable route. The route should be adhered
        to at all times. The risk assessment and risk management control measures should
        be carried out by a person competent to do so, such as a member of the Road
        Safety Team, in conjunction with the senior staff at the school. The senior staff
        should monitor whether these arrangements are successfully carried out in practice
        and a record of the risk assessment should be kept
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7       Provide details of the route and bus timetable for the parents of all pupils taking
        part in the walking bus

8       Obtain parental consent forms prior to starting the venture

9       Inform parents that they should speak to their children about road safety before
        permitting them to join the walking bus. The children should be told to listen to
        the driver and conductor and obey their instructions – in particular with regard to
        stopping and crossing. It must be made clear that parents should have a realistic
        expectation that their child will behave appropriately. The school should have a
        similar expectation

10      Train the driver and/or conductor to give all new children a brief reminder about
        road safety and their behaviour

11      Remind parents they are responsible for their children’s safety on the way to and
        from any bus stop/pick-up point. They must also satisfy themselves that the
        walking bus is safe and that the number of driver/conductors is sufficient before
        handing over their child

12      Establish a system for drivers and conductors to keep a daily register of all
        children using the walking bus

13      Train drivers and conductors to remain with the bus (group of children) at all

14      Train the driver to be in front leading the group. A conductor is responsible for
        their ratio of children (known as a carriage). The conductor of the last carriage
        must be at the rear of the bus.

15      Encourage the children to walk along the pavement away from the kerb in an
        orderly manner, and in pairs when possible, allowing other pedestrians to pas

        Note: Where practical the driver and conductor should walk on the outside of the
        pavement, acting as a ‘buffer’ to traffic

16      Keep road crossings to a minimum

17      Choose a safe crossing place away from parked cars, corners and junctions, etc. If
        available, specific safe crossing facilities should be used

18      Use of safe crossing places:

        Pelican crossing           When using a pelican crossing, make sure all the group
                                   is at the crossing before the wait button is pressed.
                                   Check that the green man shows and all the traffic
                                   stopped before attempting to cross. Do not start to cross
                                   when the green man is flashing.
        Puffin crossing            Similar to pelican crossing: make sure that the group
                                   arrives at the crossing together before pressing the
        Zebra crossing             Wait until all the traffic has stopped from both
                                   directions before crossing the road. Keep looking and

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                                   listening all the time when crossing.
        School crossing patrol     If there is a school crossing patrol on the route, please
                                   us this facility.

        When using all of the above it is advisable to make eye contact with the car
        drivers before stepping off the pavement.

19      Establish at a safe crossing system (see Off-site Activities, Regulations and
        Guidance) when crossing the driver and conductor should gather children away
        from the kerb until they have decided it is safe to cross. It is often safer and
        quicker to cross them in a line than in pairs ‘crocodile style’. Exact number in
        each line should be decided after a ‘risk assessment’ in local conditions. They
        should walk across together looking and listening as they go. When the road has
        been crossed safely the group should be re-formed and the journey continued

20      Understand that it is not recommended to use a traffic island with large groups of
        children unless it is possible to cross the width of the road in one go

21      Agree that if any part of the pathway cannot be used because of a temporary
        blockage, eg: roadworks or parked vehicles, the bus will need to divert
        accordingly. If there are any persistent problems with the route, an alternative
        route should be agreed with the group

22      Understand that the driver and conductor do not have the power to stop traffic in
        order to cross the road

23      Establish that if any motorist stops to allow the group to cross it is vital that a
        check for other traffic is made and the vehicles have stopped before stepping into
        the road. There is always the danger of other drivers overtaking the stationary

24      Establish that in bad weather it will take the driver longer to stop and, as it is more
        difficult for the group to be seen, extra precautions should be taken

25      Recognise that if a hooded coat is worn or an umbrella used, again extra
        precautions should be taken as these can obscure hearing and vision

26      Recognise that if the walking bus should employ the use of a ‘trolley’ this should
        not be positioned over the kerb when waiting to cross a road

27      The headteacher/manager would need to establish a monitoring system to ensure
        that the quality of the undertaking is consistent with the school’s expectations and
        safe practice

Important note

It is only when the walking bus is organised in this way by the headteacher/manager that
the insurance provided by Hampshire County Council for the school will extend to cover
the walking bus.

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