Parents, pupils and school reap benefits of walking


Robert Doman

I MAY not have walked to school as a youngster, but I often enjoyed the half-mile stretch to catch the school bus.

So it was with fond memories of taking that path with my friends each morning that I paid a visit to Drury County Primary School in Buckley to see how pupils, parents and teachers were embracing national ‘Walk to School Week’.

The scheme takes place every year, as part of National Walking Month, encouraging every child that can walk to school to do so and help alleviate traffic congestion around schools while in turn increasing child safety during peak times.

But I learned that walking to school also gave families more time for social interaction as well as providing pupils with the chance to put their Highway Code knowledge into action.

I was met at the gate by headteacher Mark Biltcliffe who told me he hoped the week-long initiative will encourage more people to walk at least some of the way to school to help create a safer environment for pupils.

“The school isn’t beside a busy main road but congestion can be a problem and children do sometimes cross the road between parked cars,” he said.

“I try to be outside the school quite a bit to see what happens and advise because there is a risk of children stepping into the road to get around vehicles when they are parked on the pavement.

“Walking to school can be a nice experience, even just a short way.”

Headteacher at the school for nine years, Mr Biltcliffe added: “It may be something people do just for the Walk to School scheme, but it would be nice if they could continue just for one day each week.

“We want to work in partnership with parents to support the scheme.”

Crossing the road with some of the 145 pupils currently attending Drury Primary, I spoke to 36-year-old parent Gareth Fuins who said: “We walk to school each day.

“We get time to talk as a family and it helps us to teach a bit of the highway code to our children.

“I think if people live a reasonable distance from the school then they should try it.”

Karen Parry, 41, walked her children to school and said: “More people should try it because the number of cars can make things a bit hectic by the school.

“We stop to check for cars and by walking to school we learn about road safety.”

Some of the children donned special Walk to School hats to help promote the campaign as myself and Mr Biltcliffe assessed some of the dangers faced by youngsters getting into school. Emma Walker, 30, was taking her usual 20-minute walk to school with five-year-old son Louis.

She said: “People with pushchairs sometimes struggle to get around cars parked on the pavement and have to step into the road at a busy time.”

Louis added: “I like the walk. It keeps me fit and I look both ways when I cross the road.”

As a bystander I was surprised to see how quickly the traffic on the quiet lane increased, with some people parking on a corner and restricting the flow of traffic to just one lane, causing visibility problems for other motorists in a bid to get as close to the school as possible at a pinch-point where children were also trying to cross.

I can’t always say that I have been keen to walk the extra mile, or even the extra metre to get to places when I don’t have to.

But when I do park further away I realise it is only an extra 20 or so seconds walk to where I want to be, and what is that when the safety of others and myself could be at risk?

See full story in the Leader

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