Independent Schools and School Travel Planning Independent Schools (along with Special Educational Need schools and Rural Schools) are considered to be more difficult to engage with the Travelling to School Initiative and when trying to encourage these schools to develop their School Travel Plan. There may be many reasons for this some of which are common to any type of school, some are common to these three types and others that are perhaps unique to a specific category of school. The following information is intended to help School Travel Advisors and the pupils, parents, staff, management team or governors of independent schools to develop a School Travel Plan. Overview An independent school is defined as any school that provides full-time education for five or more pupils of compulsory school age, or one or more pupils with a statement of special educational need, or who is in public care, and which is not a school maintained by a local education authority or a non-maintained special school. There are around 2,200 independent schools in England educating about seven per cent of the entire school age population. This figure varies regionally with about 10 per cent of children in the southeast in independent schools rising as high as 13 per cent in London. About half have headteachers who are members of associations affiliated to the Independent Schools Council (ISC). The ISC represents the 1,276 schools in membership of the principal heads, governors’ and bursars’ associations. What distinguishes these schools from other independent schools is that they all meet the membership requirements of their associations and are accredited and inspected under a framework agreed between ISC and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). Independent schools can set their own curriculum and admission criteria and are funded by fees paid by parents and income from investment. Currently just over half of all independent schools have charitable status. They do not have to follow the national curriculum, they are aware of it, but for most it will represent only a basic minimum standard. They are not required either to employ the Key Stage assessment tests though many prep (junior) schools do use Key Stage 1 and 2 tests simply as a benchmark exercise. Pupils are, in most cases, prepared for the same final examinations (GCSE, A level and International Baccalaureate) as at state schools. Every independent school must be registered with the Department for Education and Skills to operate. Standards are regularly monitored by either Ofsted or the Independent Schools Inspectorate, ensuring that the school meets and maintains the standards set out in the registration. Independent Schools usually attract pupils from a much wider location and catchment areas can be much larger. If pupils are travelling in from a wider area this is likely to make walking and cycling options less feasible and reduces the probability of pupils travelling together with friends or in groups. This may mean that ideas and solutions are more challenging to establish Content of an Independent School Travel Plan The national minimum standard and quality assurance processes have been devised as a mechanism to ensure that travel plans are of a particular standard before being submitted and receiving additional DfES grant funding. Although Independent Schools are not eligible for this funding the standard is still appropriate and should be adhered to, to ensure that the content and quality of any travel plan is of a level that should ensure longevity, assist with delivery of its specified aims and targets and generally be as affective as possible in bringing about long term change. Although the lack of additional capital grant funding from DfES may suggest there is no incentive to get involved with the travelling to School initiative there are many other benefits for a school, its pupils, parents and staff and those living locally who may be affected. For a proportion of Independent schools, reducing car use on the school run will not be a main focus to a travel plan due to the influence of wider catchment areas and a high availability and dependence on private vehicles. A number of families are likely to have second cars, which would be available for the school run. Easy access to a vehicle can be a critical matter when deciding on transport options and the cost of travel is less likely to be a major issue for parents. In some instances schools have been able to provide facilities such as a car park or drop off area for parents thus catering for private car use, which can sometimes mean that the school sees little congestion and dissipates the necessity or attractiveness of park and stride type schemes. Any or all of these factors makes promoting sustainable alternatives more challenging. However, some schools, such as Pipers Corner in Buckinghamshire, have decided to encourage car sharing as a way of reducing the number of cars arriving at the school gate. Schools and school travel advisers should therefore keep an open mind, as with state schools, the focus and reasons for getting involved in travel planning will vary according to each specific school. Independent Schools tend to be smaller in size than many other educational establishments. This can mean that any gains in mode switch to more sustainable transport types may be less prominent when viewed in wider perspectives. As with rural, SEN and indeed any school there are many benefits to be gained from a STP beyond the journey to school such as more independent travel, greater awareness of sustainability issues, improved road safety skills, the health and environmental consequences of transport choices etc. Other issues that can affect the interest and desire of an independent school to become involved in the Travelling to School Initiative include A proportion are boarding schools, have staggered or different start and finish times and may not consider traffic or congestion as being a problem, or they may feel that they want to accommodate those that are arriving by motorised travel (especially boarders with luggage and those travelling a distance) Some are also in rural settings and have additional issues associated with these locations such as inadequate footway or cycling provisions or poor public transport. Academic achievements may already be high which they would not want to disrupt Some are faith schools and can be cautious of information being in the public domain It is not unusual for an independent school to provide their own transport that they feel they manage well Support for Independent Schools Independent schools are outside the control and influence of local authorities. Whilst Education Directorates have extensive details for most educational establishments as well as systems and procedures for keeping in touch with them in many cases this does not extend to the independent sector and awareness of establishments and their details may be vague, incomplete, out of date or non-existent. Every independent school must be registered with the Department for Education and Skills to operate and consequently details including contact information, size, type and location can all be found on Edubase (www.edubase.gov.uk). The Travelling to School Initiative is jointly funded by the Departments for Transport and Education & Skills and the Independent sector is included within the target audience. Although independent schools do not qualify for the Devolved Formula Capital Grant they are still entitled to receive the same advice, support and assistance from a School Travel Adviser that maintained schools are. There can sometimes be tensions when LA resources are available to the independent sector on a similar footing to other education establishments especially when independent schools are in close proximity to maintained schools and there is competition for pupils. There are subtle differences in suggested approaches to independent schools that should be treated more as business entities. Much guidance available locally is thought to have a primary feel and consideration should be given to tailoring this more for the audience, research the school and target the guidance if possible, rather than providing generic information. Try not to promote anything until the issues are understood, a simple (pre survey) analysis conducted by the school (e.g. bursar or pupils) could establish; o Number of staff o Number of cars on site between 8am and 9am o Rough percentage of pupils arriving by car o Rough percentage of pupils arriving by coach o Number of coaches Find out what issues/concerns are important that can be built into the travel plan eg o Safety in the car park o Carbon footprint o Cost/effectiveness of the school bus Independent schools are run as businesses, and if it is important to attract pupils from other areas, it may be appropriate to review any existing bus service provision to see if more business can be attracted from other areas. An audit would also identify where children are travelling from and whether or not this relates to any existing bus provision, especially if local public services don’t stop close enough to the school to allow the children to walk the rest of the way in. Identify how Independent schools compete with each other for ‘business’ and how the STP could be seen as offering greater competition or a particular selling point. If there are both day and boarding Independent schools, it may be prudent to begin with the non- boarding schools. Target preparatory age groups – there is likely to be more potential for change in mode here as there is more probability that this age group is brought to school by car rather than bus. If there is a chance in the future that the school may wish to present a planning application then a condition may be set for the school to develop an STP, and the school may benefit from starting that process now. Regional meeting or local meetings; inviting the bursar (who reports to the school governors), curriculum advisor, management team. An independent school could host such meetings. Other representatives may include; pupils, parents, marketing officer, site management rep, teaching staff rep, support staff rep, local residents rep, parish council rep. The Bursars Association (members of the association are also bursars from maintained schools) is likely to be happy to pass information about the project on to head teachers. This information would need to be personalised specifically for Independent School bursar posts. Membership of the Bursars Association is open to bursars, school business managers, senior administrators (the extent of senior management posts and the titles vary but generally the title of bursar is used) from all types of schools, both maintained and independent, and all categories of schools e.g. junior, primary senior, secondary, senior. The Carbon Trust offers secondary schools and businesses free support to reduce their energy use and cut carbon emissions that includes a free one-day audit. Further information can be found at www.carbontrust.co.uk . The report that is produced identifies possible financial savings and proposes initiatives that the schools (and businesses) could consider. Interest free funding is then available. One Independent school has already been able to update their school boiler. There is also great educational value here. Schools could consider becoming a ‘sustainable school’ and ‘transportation’ plays a part in this. Demonstrating the benefits of school travel planning Examples of objectives and linked actions that could feature in a good school travel plan Objectives Linked action in action plan Community Responsibility To reduce school related travel by car as Involve the Travel Plan working group at parents’ a demonstration of environmental evenings. responsibility Bursars mailing – information about school bus, coach, To improve awareness of travel issues and car sharing. and the impact of traffic on the Promote bus routes. environment and the community Work in partnership with other schools in the area. To minimise the impact of traffic on the Audit current bus use, identify where pupils are local community travelling from, consider introducing a new coach To act in the best interests of the village service (or alter a current service) if the demand is community there. A survey could indicate that the bus services To improve travel to school for staff and don’t provide the required support. visitors The school manages the school bus. Stagger school club finishing times Reduce congestion To encourage a reduction in car use, Provide secure cycle storage facilities and lockers even if it is just for one day per week Introduce school mini-bus between school sites To promote healthy living and reduce car Cycle paths use Promote cycling To reduce congestion (cleaner, healthier, Establish walking bus and/or park and stride. safer) Conduct audit of bus routes, train routes, cycle and To raise awareness of sustainable pedestrian routes and promote to school community. methods of transport to all members of Include information within school prospectus, ‘new the school community starters’ pack, school newsletter and/or display in school foyer Provide public transport and/or school bus timetables Provide information for members of staff Poster campaigns and competitions Displays eg prepared by Year 6 ‘How we travel to school’ and ‘How our grandparents travelled to school’ Participate in: Walk To School Week Park and Walk days Car share Road Safety To raise awareness of road safety to Integrate road safety education fully into classroom parents and children topics and general curriculum To work in partnership with the local ZigZag banners – the danger of parking on zigzags community to ensure that children travel Home to School agreement. more safely Pedestrian, cycling and/or independent travel training To develop a school road safety policy in conjunction with parents. To increase safety and improve the WTSW held in conjunction with presentations and environment around school visitor speakers such as police, fire, SCP etc Safemark – bus initiative Conduct audit of popular or potential walking and cycling routes identifying issues and barriers to higher levels of use. Identify potential highway improvements that are likely to improve safety or perceptions of safety. Path and foliage clearing Restrict car parking spaces to 6th formers who have undertaken specific training eg safer positive driving, pass plus, young drivers. More visible winter uniform. Health To promote the healthy option Healthy Lifestyles week Pupil involvement Road Safety lessons incorporated into the PSHE To include travel and environmental curriculum. issues in the school curriculum Road markings and traffic lights on the playground. Survey – how grandparents travelled to school, comparison with present day. JRSO. RAC Grass Routes Challenge (Yr8 Geography) BSM Ignition programme. The following is included in the Independent Schools Inspection Framework handbook (available from the Independent Schools Inspectorate ISC web site), and can be evidenced by an active and owned STP. 2.1 The School provides a range of educational opportunities suited to the interests, aptitudes and needs of all pupils. The report will include judgements and explanations about whether: 2.1.3 Pupils’ experiences are enriched by Involvement in the development and delivery of the STP as extra-curricular activities, links with the a whole. community, and provision for voluntary Identification of issues and problems affecting school service and work experience for those in journeys and engaging with those who have the power to senior schools resolve or minimise the issues. 2.1.4 Due attention is given to preparing Independent travel pupils for the next stage of education, training Potential consequences of non sustainable travel choices or employment and for adult life 2.2 Pupils achieve good levels of knowledge, skills and critical and creative understanding in their subjects and activities, and learn to apply them effectively. 2.2.ii Pupils develop the essential skills and attitudes for work and study Pupils are articulate, listen effectively, read Find out from staff and students why they choose their intelligently and write fluently and creatively particular travel mode to and from school. Find out from staff, students, parents and local residents what problems are caused by the school run. Pupils apply mathematics and mathematical Preparing travel surveys concepts effectively Analysing Pupils make effective used of information, Consulting with the whole school community to find out what communication and control technology problems are being caused by the school run. Pupils reason and argue cogently and think School council developing the travel plan for themselves Promoting the benefits of sustainable travel Pupils take notes, study and organise their Developing some or all of the STP document work independently Pupils study and work effectively both on Identify other partners who may be able to help develop their own and co-operatively with others and solutions to the school run problems in team Pupils settle and apply themselves, and Accomplishing actions and bringing about solutions to persevere in and enjoy their work and issues identified activities 2.3 The pupils demonstrate well-developed spiritual, moral, social and cultural awareness. 2.3.3 Pupils develop socially in their ability to Responsible attitude accept responsibility for their behaviour, Road safety awareness show initiative and understand how they can Behaviour whilst travelling by bus contribute to community life, including a Safe cycling broad general knowledge of public Workings of local and national government institutions and services in England 3.2 The school has an effective partnership with parents and worthwhile links with the wider community 3.2.2 Parents have good opportunities to be Parents evenings involved in activities in the school and in the Responding to questionnaires work and progress of their children Being part of the STP working group 3.2.5 The school promote positive links with Local residents and businesses consulted and involved the wider community Curriculum links. A STP can provide pupils with an opportunity to learn about their local environment and the impact that their travel choices may have on it. A school with a travel plan demonstrates both commitment to the immediate health and safety of their pupils and to providing them with skills and knowledge for future years. Links with health, physical activity, safety, environment, future life attitudes, skills, beliefs, and abilities. Health and Safety A school needs to ensure a safe and positive environment for students who will benefit from this. They have a statutory duty of care that they owe to all visitors including pupils, which would include safety issues of children leaving the school entrance to perhaps go to separate buildings. Other benefits of School Travel Planning for Independent Schools Congestion reduction Climate change Casualty reduction and/or road safety awareness Sustainable schools, Eco Schools and/or Healthy Schools status Every Child Matters Accessibility and social inclusion Extended schools Healthy living blueprint / our healthier nation Student participation and consultation Further initiatives or ideas that could be used Post code coloured badges / coffee morning Sustainable travel map – where you are coming from and the transportation options available. Assess movement of pedestrians and cyclists to/from and within the school grounds Traffic calming – on/off school site Improve condition of footpaths, cycle ways lighting provision etc. within and in vicinity of the school Provide improved school warning signs Assess movement of buses and taxis within the school grounds Provide a sheltered waiting area for pupils waiting for buses and/or parents waiting for pupils Restrict parking PR – Information via; newsletters, prospectus, displays, travel pack, route maps, new parents evening, open days Local STP Award schemes Parents transport committee Bursars job description to include STP coordinator for the schools Project for students that evidences project management, responsibility etc Involve the whole school community: o Involve the school council in the process and decision making o Plot children's routes to school and issues relating to those routes o Introduce a suggestion box available for staff, pupils, residents, and parents comments or ideas relating to travel. Whilst local policies will vary Safer Routes to School and other Local Transport Plan funding is usually available to support and encourage sustainable travel to any educational establishment and should be available to support independent schools and some of their proposed actions. Many of the difficulties and situations suggested above mean that engaging and working with independent schools to overcome some of these issues, change attitudes and influence behaviour is more challenging and could be more time consuming. As a result local authority School Travel Advisers may be concentrating their time, efforts and resources on what may be considered to be easier hits. It is not suggested that schools in the independent sector do not have access to or are not availing themselves of the support that is available but rather that the targeting and approach of schools in the independent sector may be further down on the current priority list for STA’s. Independent schools may be less aware of the Travelling to School Initiative however any school that wishes to become engaged and involved is encouraged to seek out their authorities School Travel Adviser and request support and assistance. It is very unlikely that requests of this nature will be declined unless strict priorities have already been established and even then it should only be delayed and possible for assistance to be programmed for a future point in time.
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