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, 448KB). In determining what is reasonable, the Local Authority takes into account the latest national guidance issued by Road Safety GB. 

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.

Full details about the assessment procedure agreed by the Council’s Cabinet at a meeting on 15 October 2012 are published below:

Available walking routes - review process

Cheshire East Council has undertaken 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
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.

January 2018 – letters have been sent to parents on route 5 – Bollington to Tytherington High confirming that free school transport will be withdrawn from 16 April 2018.

The withdrawal of free school transport follows the installation of a crossing on the A523 Silk Road (at the junction with the B5090) allowing the Cabinet decision to be implemented.

This now provides an alternative route to the one via Middlewood Way which had already being assessed as an available walking route, in accordance with the Special Council decision of 23 February 2017.

Phase 2A 

One route has been reassessed in this phase - Mobberley to Knutsford Academy and Mobberley to Knutsford Academy The Studio.

Latest details on Phase 2A 

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 closed. 

At a Cabinet meeting on 13 March 2018 the following recommendation was approved:

  • Confirms that the route between Mobberley and Knutsford Academy and Knutsford Academy, The Studio is deemed an ‘available’ walking route. Therefore free home to school transport will be withdrawn for current and new pupils living in Mobberley within 3 miles of the Academy, effective from 1 September 2018.
  • April 2018 – letters have been sent to parents on the Mobberley to Knutsford route confirming that free school transport will be withdrawn from 1 September 2018.

More information on Phase 2

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Page last reviewed: 20 February 2019