Date: 19th June 2019
The Walking Bus starts its journey from the steps leading up to Chapelhay, opposite the harbour next to the church. Mr Firkin registers in those children present and the Bus starts to walk at 8am. There are various stops along the route and children join the Bus having been registered and received an Emoji sticker from the Sticker Monitor (one of the regular passengers).
Older children walk at the back of the Bus, ensuring none of the younger children drop behind. Parents walk with their children and their friends. Children join along the route as well as at the designated stops.
There is a genuine sense of purpose to the Bus, there is constant chatter and laughter amongst the passengers, but all are aware of the sense of community and being part of a very special experience every morning.
The Bus started with 7 children, by the time it left the shops at Chapelhay the number had increased to 14, rising to over 40 children by the time we reached school. Mr Firkin ensured that all children crossed the roads safely and made them aware of the various traffic hazards. Another member of had joined the Bus to help supervise from the top of Boot Hill.
The Bus is well supervised, the children behave very well and are polite to other pedestrians and those that they pass along the way. The pace is set for the youngest to be able to achieve comfortably, and all arrived at school in breath. The Bus then gained admission to the school before the gates opened at 8.40am. Those wearing high visibility jackets stowed them in their bags for the next day. The passengers arrived happy, healthier and in an eco-friendly way!
Issues discussed arising from the visit
Since I was not able to talk to Mr Firkin at the time of the Walking Bus I caught up with him later to discuss a couple of points that I need clarifying:
- Does there need to be an adult:child ratio maintained? It is for the school to judge the ratio. I would suggest 1:10 / 15 would be best. For this bus alone, 4 adults would be a good number, as we currently have between 30 and 45 by the time we get to school. There are only 6 children at the start of the route, then about 20 by the time we cross Boot Hill. The rest join at Portmore Gardens. We currently have myself, Mrs Bryant and 2 parent walkers who are pretty regular.
- What happens if Mr Firkin is ill one day or needs to be elsewhere? What is the contingency? A ping would have to go out for it to be cancelled, or Miss Heightley would cover.
- Is this a Community initiative in the way we originally envisaged? I feel it would still need to be run by a school adult who can manage the behaviour effectively. Perhaps family walking days each week to encourage the parents to join in occasionally.
- Is the school’s Eco-group monitoring this initiative? Not yet.
This new initiative has been well planned and executed by the school. We should continue to monitor the popularity of the Walking Bus over the winter months, and seek external funding to support this non-statutory function.
Our thanks must go to Mr Firkin for the Walking Bus – absolutely brilliant that once again the pupils are at the heart of what we do!