Encouraging more pupils to walk to school.

How to promote a healthier and more connected community.


A generation ago, 70% of primary school children walked to school. Today, this has dropped to just over half (51%)*.

International Walk to School Month, which is held every October, is a fantastic opportunity to encourage more pupils to embrace the benefits of walking to school. Not only does walking promote physical well-being for pupils of all ages, but it also provides an excellent opportunity for parents of younger children to spend quality time with them on the walks to and from school. In this blog, we will explore the numerous advantages of walking to school, not only for children but also for parents, and offer practical tips on how teachers can promote this healthy and enriching habit. We understand that work commitments and busy lifestyles may not always allow for walking to school every day, but adding just one walk a week will have a positive impact!

Benefits for children:

  1. Physical: By encouraging children to walk to school, we can help in establishing healthy habits early in life. Walking is an excellent form of exercise that improves cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles and bones, and helps to maintain a healthy weight. Regular physical activity, such as walking, reduces the risk of childhood obesity and related health issues. The walk to and from school can also be counted as part of the 60 minutes of physical activity that is recommended for children each day.
  2. Mental: Walking in the fresh air can boost children’s mood, reduce stress and improve general well-being. It provides an opportunity for them to clear their minds, making them more focused and ready to learn once they arrive at school.
  3. Social: Walking to school allows children to interact with their peers, building social skills, and forming friendships. It also helps in building a sense of community among pupils living in the same area.
  4. Environmental: Promoting a culture of walking to school can help children develop an early appreciation for the environment. They can observe and learn about their surroundings, including the importance of preserving nature.
  5. Independence: Walking to school fosters a sense of independence and responsibility in children. It teaches them important life skills such as road safety, time management, and navigation, all of which are vital when making the transition to secondary school when parents are less likely to be on hand to support.

 Benefits for parents:

  1. Quality time: Walking to school with your child provides a precious opportunity for quality time together. It allows for meaningful conversations and the chance to connect before and after a busy school day.
  2. Physical: Parents also benefit from the physical activity involved in walking to school. It’s a great way to incorporate exercise into daily routines, promoting better health and fitness.
  3. Mental: Walking can be a calming activity, helping parents start the day stress-free and take a break in the afternoon.
  4. Environmental: By choosing to walk, parents contribute to a reduction in traffic congestion and air pollution, which benefits the entire community. Fewer cars on the road also mean safer streets for everyone.

How to promote walking to school

Teachers and school leaders play a vital role in encouraging more pupils to walk to school. Here are some suggestions to help promote a healthier and more connected community through walking to school:

  1. Road safety education: Link it to the teaching of road safety education in the curriculum. Let parents know when you are delivering it in school and encourage them to reinforce and demonstrate messages about pedestrian safety, including the proper use of zebra crossings, traffic signs, and how to safely navigate streets.
  2. Walk to school challenges: Organise walk-to-school challenges within the school. Set goals and offer incentives for pupils who actively participate and get involved. Consider friendly competitions between classes or perhaps assign a walk to school ambassador.
  3. Clubs: Set up walking clubs within the school. Encourage students to join and participate in scheduled walks to and from school.
  4. Walking School Bus: Create a “walking school bus” programme, where designated adults or older students lead groups of children on the walk to school. This ensures safety and adds an element of fun to the journey.
  5. Collaborate: School staff and parents should join forces in promoting walking to school. Host meetings or workshops with Friends of the School or PTAs to discuss the benefits and safety measures. Encourage parents to lead by example and walk with their children.
  6. Environmental education: Build discussion about walking into the environmental section of the curriculum.


Walk to School Month serves as a timely reminder of the many benefits of encouraging pupils to walk to school. For children, it promotes physical health, mental well-being, social skills, and environmental awareness. For parents, it offers precious quality time, exercise, reduced stress, and a chance to contribute to a cleaner environment. Teachers can play a pivotal role by incorporating road safety education, organising challenges, establishing walking clubs, facilitating walking school buses, and fostering parent-teacher collaboration.

Let’s take a step in the right direction this October and beyond, for a healthier, happier, and more connected community.



*Source: Gov.uk

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