The ‘walking bus’, which collects 80% of pupils for their daily journey to Wheatfields Junior School in St Albans has been nominated for a BBC People’s Award, honouring outstanding achievement across the UK, national media reported on 14 August. There are now at least twenty similar services in Hertfordshire with many more across the UK, and enquiries about the scheme have come from as far away as Germany and the US.

The concept of the ‘walking bus’ was launched in 1998, when only half of Wheatfield’s pupils walked to school, and involves children joining a ‘human bus’ at designated ‘people stops’ along fixed routes, accompanied by adults acting as ‘driver’ and ‘conductor’. At the end of the school day children return home by joining one of four walking buses. All pupils wear fluorescent jackets to ensure they are visible to motorists.

Hertfordshire County Council’s aim is to provide a healthy, safe and environmentally-friendly alternative to short and unnecessary car journeys, and has made a starter-pack available for all interested parties.

“The scheme has really caught people’s imagination, I think due to the simplicity of the idea,” Hertfordshire County Council’s environmental spokesperson, told edie. “Children like to walk to school with their friends, so it’s fun, and it’s healthy, as they get a chance to get daily exercise,” he said.

The scheme also saves parents’ time, as supervision works on a rota basis for the maximum one mile journey, and perhaps surprisingly, the scheme has experienced no drop in popularity with parents or children during the winter months.

Wheatfields School has been nominated in the innovation category of the BBC award designed to honour outstanding ingenuity and was nominated by BBC viewers and listeners. The winners of the award will be announced in October.

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