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Travel and Transport

Safer Travel

The School Safer Travel Plan

 St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is part of the Local Authority’s Safe Travel Initiative and has written a Safer Travel plan. We have done this because we are concerned about the safety of our students in their journeys to and from school whilst using the designated bus service available to the members of the school and in light of the safety problems experienced connected with being sited on Wychall Road, which is an extremely busy public road.

We worked with outside agencies in the drafting of the plan and have consulted our principles stakeholders – our pupils, parents and teachers.

Why have we done this?

The school is in its second year of raising awareness about safer road use. Although we have always taken road safety seriously, an accident on Wychall Lane just below the school gates involving a pupil then in Year 8, in the Summer Term 2006, emphasised the dangerous nature of this busy road. As a result, road safety became a priority in the School Improvement Plan and a campaign was launched to raise awareness of the need to use good road sense at all times, and in particular to use the designated pedestrian crossing. It became clear, when talking to pupils, that there was a misunderstanding amongst them and that the red tarmac outside of the school gates was seen as a ‘safe’ area to cross.

The campaign is aimed at all years in the school from Year 7 to Year 13. Special assemblies and workshops, provided by the Road Safety Team of the City Council, are held with a particular emphasis for Year 7 because of our concern for pupils who are now travelling greater distances to school, using public transport and having to cross main roads, having beforehand gone to a school in their neighbourhood and with the benefit of a ‘Crossing Lady’.

The Safer Travel Team have included information about safer bus travel in their assemblies and the need to abide by the Bus Code of Conduct, drawn up in conjunction with the Safer Travel Team and included as part of our Home and School Agreement.

In writing the School Travel Plan, we are widening our area of focus to include safe and sustainable travel for our young people. We have a new lockable bike shed funded through the Safer Travel Plan and run Bikeability courses for Years 7 and 8. The course for the Autumn Term, 2009 begins on Monday November 16, 2009. 

Moving to Secondary School and the School Travel Plan

Starting a new school is an anxious time for both parents and pupils and if your child is walking, cycling or catching a bus on a new bust route, it can seem doubly anxious.

St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School has drawn up a School Travel Plan to be implemented over 3 years. We are currently in Year 2 of the plan. We have always been eager to promote good road sense but an accident outside the school gates 3 years ago highlighted the need to promote the message a fully as we can.

There are two main aims of the plan:

  1. to promote good road sense
  2. to promote the need for more sustainable travel.

The Safer Travel Team and Travel West Midlands will be working with Year 7 pupils in assemblies and workshops on using good road sense as a pedestrian.

Here are some tips for you to share with your child. They are based on the material produced by THINK! and the Department for Transport.

Walking Safely

  • Walking is healthier than going by car but smaller children cannot always see what adults can see. Similarly, drivers cannot always see young children.
  • The best way for children to learn to be safe pedestrians is to follow your good example. Practise the route to school with them and allow them to make decisions with you there to check. Draw up a route plan together so that they are not worried about getting lost. You could mark on the route the places where it is safe to cross a road.

Pointers:

  • Always walk on a pavement – NEVER on the road.
  • If there is no pavement, walk on the right-hand side of the road to face oncoming traffic. Always walk in single file if you have to walk on the road.
  • Check carefully if you have to cross a cycle lane when crossing a road that no cyclist is coming.
  • Drivers cannot always see small children so be very careful when walking behind a parked car because it may begin reversing towards you.
  • Wear something light so that you are visible to drivers.

The Green Cross Code

  • Pupils learnt this at their primary schools and the code still applies!
  • They should continue to use the good road sense that they have been taught.

Using Pedestrian Crossings

  • Many children have difficulty in judging how fast vehicles are travelling or how far away they are and think that they can ‘make it’.
  • Children should use pedestrian crossings (including zebra crossings and signal controlled crossings) whenever they are crossing roads.
  • It is a school rule that pupils should only cross Wychall Lane via the pedestrian crossing just along from the school gates. Parents are informed and pupils are given a detention if they are seen crossing the road at any other point.

Here are some reminders about using crossings:

  • Always wait at the kerb facing the crossing so that drivers know you want to cross
  • At a signal-controlled crossing, press the button and wait for the green man to appear
  • NEVER cross if the green man is flashing
  • NEVER cross until there is a green man
  • Wait for traffic to stop before crossing and DON’T run
  • Walk on the designated strip marked on the road
  • Crossings on dual carriageways are regarded as separate crossings so on the middle ‘island’, press the button again and wait for the green man
  • Look, listen and check for traffic whilst crossing.

If your child has to cross between parked cars, they should remember the following points:

  • Drivers on the road may not be able to see them between the parked cars
  • Check whether there are drivers in the parked cars – they may be about to drive off.
  • Watch out for a flashing indicator – this means that the car is about to drive away
  • Be extra careful crossing near buses or ice-cream vans
  • If there isn’t a safe place to cross, DON’T cross. Walk along the road until it is safe to cross – preferably at a pedestrian crossing.

Cycling

If your child is cycling to school (or cycling at any other time!), here are some general pointers:

  • a helmet should be worn
  • bright/light clothing will make them more visible
  • check the cycle is the correct size and is manageable
  • plan the routes to be used and how to navigate junctions and turnings.
  • Bikeability courses will be available for pupils in years 7 to 8 in the autumn. More details on this will be communicated through the Friday Letter or via Form Tutors.

Cycling on the Road

Points to remember:

  • Cycle on the left of the road, near the curb
  • Look behind before moving off or turning left or right – then use hand signals
  • Keep both hands on the handlebars except when signalling
  • Ride in single file
  • Use cycle lanes where possible
  • Do not ride on pavements unless indicated to do so
  • Obey traffic light signals and road signs
  • Get off and walk at difficult junctions or roundabouts
  • NEVER carry a passenger
  • NEVER wear a personal stereo when cycling
  • NEVER use a mobile phone when cycling
  • NEVER hold onto any vehicle or another cyclist

Always use good road sense.

Transportation

School Bus Numbers and Destinations

Safe transport to and from St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School is of the upmost importance. It is for this reason that we have six National Express buses come onto the playground every day to take our pupils home. The buses arrive onto a supervised playground at 3:00pm and leave at 3:18pm. We work very closely with the bus company to ensure a reliable and safe service for our pupils.