Oxfordshire County Council is one of the latest authorities to sign up to WOW. Richard Kuziara is Health Improvement Practitioner in their Public Health team, he tells us why they want more children walking to school.
Councils are often faced with a host of different objectives – and it’s no different for us at Oxfordshire County Council. When it came to our varying health and transport priorities we took a collaborative approach to see if there was one solution to our individual challenges.
And that’s where WOW came in
Working across departments, our road safety, public health and school travel teams were involved in funding and implementing WOW - looking at the varying benefits it offers.
What WOW could do for us
Oxfordshire County Council is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all our primary school children and their families. To ensure we do this, our Health and Wellbeing Board has a set of priorities.
WOW contributes to all of these priorities. By encouraging the walk to school, we’re giving children a better start in life by helping them be active every day. Medical experts advise that children are active for at least 60 minutes a day to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight.
On top of the health benefits, WOW also helps us meet some of the goals of ‘Connecting Oxfordshire’, our Local Transport Plan:
With WOW ticking a lot of our boxes, it came to deciding how to fund it. We were able to secure funding for at least 20 schools across the council – fully funding WOW for the first year. From year two onwards we are encouraging schools to use a small proportion of their PE and Sport Premium funding to self-fund the WOW programme.
Is WOW working?
The WOW Travel Tracker records all modes of travel and gives us valuable insights into each school’s travel habits. WOW has been easy for schools to adapt to which we hope will encourage them to continue once the initial three-year period comes to an end.
The children love signing in every morning and the system runs itself. The teachers have not actually had to do anything apart from load the homepage up every morning.
Walking has increased from 47% to 54%
Scooting has increased from 3% to 8%
Car trips right to the school have fallen from 31% to 16%
Park and Stride has increased from 7% to 15%