Phasing out Home to School travel assistance on routes deemed suitable for walking

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It is the responsibility of parents/carers to ensure that their child travels safely to and from school if they do not qualify for travel assistance.

Cornwall Council generally provide home to school travel assistance only to children who live beyond the ‘statutory walking distance’ where they can be expected to walk to their nearest suitable school (two miles for children up to the end of Year 3, and three miles for children from Year 4 onwards). There are some exceptions to this, for example for children unable to walk to school because of a disability. We also have a statutory duty to provide travel assistance to children who live within statutory walking distance of their nearest suitable school, but who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to their nearest suitable school because the route is deemed unsuitable to walk.

Routes deemed unsuitable to walk

Whether a route is ‘unsuitable to walk’ is determined via a Pedestrian Route Assessment (PRA).

Cornwall Council is encouraging active travel and investing in walking and cycling infrastructure and making our roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists. We hope and expect this will result in a reduction in routes currently considered unsuitable for walking.

As part of our due diligence, we regularly review routes classified as unsuitable to walk to identify if those routes should be reassessed, for example because they have benefited from investment in route improvements such as footpaths, street lighting and zebra crossings.

What happens when a route previously considered ‘unsuitable’ is now considered suitable?

A recent review has identified 16 routes which have previously been assessed as suitable to walk, but for which we are continuing to provide travel assistance – at a total cost of between £50,000 and £60,000 per year. See the 'routes under review' section elsewhere on this page for details of the 16 routes.

We will be reviewing completed Pedestrian Route Assessment for each of these routes and completing further assessments where necessary. If those assessments confirm a route is suitable to walk, in line with our Home to School Travel Assistance Policy, we would start a phased approach to ending travel assistance on these routes. This would mean:

  • we would no longer agree new applications for travel assistance (on the grounds of an unsuitable walking route) for the Academic year 2024-25 onwards.
  • Children who have already been offered transport assistance will continue to receive this.

This could mean more opportunities for children to walk or cycle to and from school and the associated health benefits that brings. However, it is important to remember that it is the responsibility of parents/carers to ensure that their child travels safely to and from school if they do not qualify for travel assistance. That means it is ultimately the parents/carers who decide how the journey to and from school should be undertaken, including whether walking or cycling would be appropriate.

Engagement and next steps

Before we make any decisions, we wanted to understand the potential impacts on children, families and traffic. We also wanted to find out more about the views of parent/carers and schools affected on potential alternative home to school travel options and how we could best implement a phased approach to ending travel assistance. A survey to provide your feedback was available here from 9 August until 1 October 2023. 1,195 responses were received.

The results are reported to the meeting of Cornwall Council's Cabinet on 13 December 2023 where the next steps will be considered.

It is the responsibility of parents/carers to ensure that their child travels safely to and from school if they do not qualify for travel assistance.

Cornwall Council generally provide home to school travel assistance only to children who live beyond the ‘statutory walking distance’ where they can be expected to walk to their nearest suitable school (two miles for children up to the end of Year 3, and three miles for children from Year 4 onwards). There are some exceptions to this, for example for children unable to walk to school because of a disability. We also have a statutory duty to provide travel assistance to children who live within statutory walking distance of their nearest suitable school, but who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to their nearest suitable school because the route is deemed unsuitable to walk.

Routes deemed unsuitable to walk

Whether a route is ‘unsuitable to walk’ is determined via a Pedestrian Route Assessment (PRA).

Cornwall Council is encouraging active travel and investing in walking and cycling infrastructure and making our roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists. We hope and expect this will result in a reduction in routes currently considered unsuitable for walking.

As part of our due diligence, we regularly review routes classified as unsuitable to walk to identify if those routes should be reassessed, for example because they have benefited from investment in route improvements such as footpaths, street lighting and zebra crossings.

What happens when a route previously considered ‘unsuitable’ is now considered suitable?

A recent review has identified 16 routes which have previously been assessed as suitable to walk, but for which we are continuing to provide travel assistance – at a total cost of between £50,000 and £60,000 per year. See the 'routes under review' section elsewhere on this page for details of the 16 routes.

We will be reviewing completed Pedestrian Route Assessment for each of these routes and completing further assessments where necessary. If those assessments confirm a route is suitable to walk, in line with our Home to School Travel Assistance Policy, we would start a phased approach to ending travel assistance on these routes. This would mean:

  • we would no longer agree new applications for travel assistance (on the grounds of an unsuitable walking route) for the Academic year 2024-25 onwards.
  • Children who have already been offered transport assistance will continue to receive this.

This could mean more opportunities for children to walk or cycle to and from school and the associated health benefits that brings. However, it is important to remember that it is the responsibility of parents/carers to ensure that their child travels safely to and from school if they do not qualify for travel assistance. That means it is ultimately the parents/carers who decide how the journey to and from school should be undertaken, including whether walking or cycling would be appropriate.

Engagement and next steps

Before we make any decisions, we wanted to understand the potential impacts on children, families and traffic. We also wanted to find out more about the views of parent/carers and schools affected on potential alternative home to school travel options and how we could best implement a phased approach to ending travel assistance. A survey to provide your feedback was available here from 9 August until 1 October 2023. 1,195 responses were received.

The results are reported to the meeting of Cornwall Council's Cabinet on 13 December 2023 where the next steps will be considered.

  • CLOSED: This survey has concluded.

    Please complete our short survey to give your feedback about the review of unsuitable walking routes. This survey will close on 01/10/2023.

    Privacy Notice 

    We will use the information you provide to inform our Home to School Travel Assistance Policies and their implementation.

    The Data Controller for the information you provide in this survey is Cornwall Council, New County Hall, Treyew Road, Truro TR1 3AY. Data Protection Registration Number: Z1745294. Once the survey has closed, your data will be held within Cornwall Council’s secure network and premises for up to 2 years. Where we ask you to supply personal data on this form, we will only make access to this data available to authorised members of staff who are required to process it for the purposes outlined in this privacy notice. Please note that other information you provide, such as responses to open questions, may be published in full.

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Page last updated: 07 Dec 2023, 11:12 AM