Our Charlotte McHugh tells us why it’s important to target children transitioning between primary and secondary school with messaging on why walking to school is so important.
We have just launched ‘Next Steps’, our product for students transitioning to secondary school. This product educates children of their travel options and challenges them to walk stages of their new journey.
Why is this important?
Just 35% of secondary school pupils walk to school. This is down from 45% twenty years ago and although the average journey (at 3.5 miles) is too long to walk the whole way, this has not significantly increased for the last generation. There are plenty of ways to add walking into the secondary school commute whether it be skipping a stop on public transport or parking a short way away from the school gates and striding in from there. Here at Living Streets, we are targeting those who can walk the whole way or can afford to walk part of the journey.
What are the benefits?
Physical health: With 20% of Year 6 students leaving primary school obese1, and with secondary school PE hours reducing by 20% in recent years; the Next Steps product takes the onus off teachers and educates new students in the best ways to get physically active on the journey to their new school. Walking to school is easy and completely free; making it an accessible option for children to choose as they begin to make decisions for themselves.
Mental health: By September 2020 all students will be taught about how to look after their mental wellbeing with a focus on promoting the positive link between physical and mental health. Next Steps is an easy and time effective way for teachers to meet some of this requirement. Walking is an easy option for improving mental health. It’s a proven way of reducing stress symptoms and staving off depression. It’s also been shown to help students concentrate in class and inspire creative thinking.
Road Safety: At the age of 11, there is a sharp rise in child pedestrian casualties – 37% of which occur at drop off and pick up school times. This reflects the need for a reduction in motor traffic outside the school gates and a need for road safety education. Next Steps encourages students to walk to school; reducing the number of cars outside school gates, while raising their awareness of road safety.
Congestion: More students walking to school, means fewer cars driving up the school gates. This means fewer idling vehicles producing bad air outside classrooms and improves the safety on the streets around school.
How does Next Steps to Secondary School work?
There are two touchpoints for students:
Step one: On the Transitions Day in Summer Term: a workshop, assembly or stall at the students’ new secondary school is supported by the Next Steps leaflet. This touchpoint encourages students to consider the benefits of each mode of travel. The leaflet includes a magnet to be taken home and encourages discussion with parents and carers.
Step two: In their first term at secondary school, the Next Steps walking challenge encourages all students to fit more walking into their school journey. Additional messaging about the benefits of travelling in an active way are suggested.