Funding to enable and encourage more primary school children to walk to school has been announced (21 March 2019) by the Department for Transport.

The £1 million fund is an extension of existing funding and will affect 400 schools in the following combined authority areas: Birmingham City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester, Merseytravel, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and West Midlands Combined Authority. 

A generation ago, 70 per cent of primary school children walked to school but this has dropped to just over half (51 per cent). The Government has a target in its Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) to have 55 per cent of primary school children walking to school by 2025.

Walk to school

The Walk to School Outreach programme will be delivered by Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking through WOW – their year-round walk to school challenge in primary schools. WOW sees walking rates increase by an average of 23 per cent and results in 30 per cent fewer car journeys to the school gates. 

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, Living Streets comments:

“Nationally the number of children walking to school has fallen significantly over recent years. However, in schools where successful initiatives like WOW are in place, we are seeing more families choose active and sustainable ways to travel.

“Walking to school helps children stay active and build healthy habits for life, which is incredibly important at a time when a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese."

We are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of air pollution on our children’s health - stunting their lung development and increasing the risk of asthma attacks. One in four cars during peak hours are on the school run and the toxic fumes they produce stay around the school gates long after the cars have left. We need to be making it possible for families to swap to healthier forms of travel and this funding will go a long way to doing that in these local authority areas.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, Living Streets