Walking routes to schools

It is a parent's responsibility to ensure that their child gets to and from school at the appropriate time each day and to put in place the necessary travel arrangements.

Local authorities are, however, required by law to make school travel arrangements where a route to school not available for a child to walk to school in reasonable safety. If the nature of the route is such that the child cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school, even when accompanied by a responsible person, then the Local Authority (LA) will deem it ‘unavailable’ and will be under a statutory duty to provide travel assistance, as set out in its Home to School Travel Policy (PDF, 772KB). In determining what is reasonable, the Local Authority takes into account the latest national guidance issued by Road Safety GB. Full details about the assessment procedure agreed by the Council’s Cabinet at a meeting on 15th October 2012 are published here:

To ensure that all children have the opportunity to walk to school where possible, routes need to be reassessed to take account of highways changes. Parents and schools can also request that a route is reassessed. Assessments do not determine whether a route is safe or dangerous as all roads may present some element of road safety risk. Instead, the assessment determines whether free transport should be provided by the Local Authority because a particular walking route presents exceptional road safety hazards.

Available walking routes - review process

Cheshire East Council is undertaking a review of routes classed as unavailable, to take into account the significant improvements to the highway, footpaths and Public Rights of Way network that have occurred over the past few years since the routes were originally deemed unavailable, which was prior to the policy being determined on 15 October 2012. The latest assessment has enabled these routes to be categorised into 5 phases of possible implementation:

Available walking routes
PhaseYearDescription
1 2017/18 Routes classified as an available walking route to school without any need for additional cost or highway improvement.
2 2018/19 Routes with the potential to be reclassified with some additional cost for highway improvement.
3 - Routes that have potential to be re-classified with some additional cost for highway improvement. These routes are potentially more difficult to resolve than those in phase 2.
4 - Routes that have potential to be re-classified but further assessment is required for feasibility of improvement schemes
5 - Routes that are unlikely to be re-classified, in the foreseeable future, unless there are major developments in the area that would trigger changes to the highway.

Phase 1 - 

Five routes have been reassessed under Phase 1, as shown below:

  1. Elton Road Roundabout to Wheelock Primary School (PDF, 282KB)
  2. Middlewood High Poynton to Poynton High School (PDF, 500KB)
  3. Willaston to Brine Leas School (PDF, 507KB)
  4. Willaston to Malbank High (PDF, 465KB)
  5. Bollington to Tytherington High via Middlewood Way (PDF, 490KB)

The background on Available Walking Routes - Phase 1 includes information about the process to date, including decisions made.

Latest information

Letters have been sent to parents June confirming free transport will be withdrawn from September 2017 for routes 1 and 2. 

Letters have been sent to parents in June to confirm that free transport will continue for September 2017 for routes 3 -5 pending completion of the required highways changes and Network Rail assessment, as agreed at the Special Council Meeting in February. Once these routes are deemed ‘available’, parents will receive advance notice that free transport will be withdrawn. 

Special Council Meeting - 23 February 2017

Elected Members used their powers, as set out in legislation, to call this Special Council meeting so that issues raised about the decision on available walking routes (Cabinet, 18 October 2016) could be fully considered.

At the meeting, it was agreed that Cabinet defers implementation of its decision to withdraw free school transport from Bollington to Tytherington High School via the Middlewood Way, until a toucan crossing for pedestrians and cyclists has been installed adjacent to the roundabout on the A523 Silk Road (at the junction with the B5090), and its operational safety has been assessed and evaluated.

It was also agreed that Cabinet defers implementation of its decision to withdraw free school transport from Willaston to Malbank School and Brine Leas School until Network Rail has provided an assessment as to whether they consider the London Road level crossing to be safe for pedestrians to use and this Council has accepted the assessment.

Full details about the matters considered, including background information

Letters were sent mid March to parents of children affected, with information about the next steps in the process.

Phase 2A -

One route has been reassessed in this phase:

Mobberley to Knutsford Academy and Mobberley to Knutsford Academy The Studio.

Latest Information

At a Cabinet meeting on 12 September 2017 the following recommendation was approved:

“Authorise the proposed community engagement on the removal of free transport between Mobberley to Knutsford Academy and the Studio on the basis that the route is now assessed as an available walking route”

The engagement process has now begun and will last until 17 October. 

You can participate in a number of ways:

More information 

Home to School Transport Appeals Process

There is a right of appeal if the Local Authority refuses transport for your child.

Important Information - In regard to the decision to withdraw school transport because the walking route has now been deemed ‘available’, the appeals process cannot reassess the route and any matters of safety can only pertain to a child’s individual circumstances, not the classification of the route itself. 

Contact us



0300 123 5012

Monday to Friday 8:30 to 17:00

School Transport
Cheshire East Council
Floor 6, c/o Municipal Buildings
Earle Street
Crewe
Cheshire
CW1 2BJ

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0871 200 22 33 calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras
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