Sustainable education travel strategy 2017-2021

We will support our children to have the best start in life; to encourage active lifestyles, improve air quality and ensure children and young people are safe when travelling around a well-planned city.

Leeds City Council is working to be a Child Friendly City, the Best Council Plan sets out how the council will deliver better outcomes across Leeds by working in partnership to deliver a strong economy and a compassionate city.

This strategy will underpin a culture of active and sustainable travel amongst children and young people that has a long-term impact on future travel choices. It will contribute to the long term health and wellbeing of children by promoting an active and healthy lifestyle and reduce carbon emissions in the city by decreasing the number of cars on Leeds’ roads and easing congestion around schools.

Travelling to school or college by car raises issues for air quality, road safety and contributes to the long term decline in children’s levels of physical exercise. Car dependency can have a negative effect on the health and independence of young people and their travel behaviour in later life.

The Council will continue to promote the development and implementation of school travel plans as a key tool and catalyst for planning and promoting sustainable travel in all schools and colleges. Travel plans provide the means within schools to provide direction through parent, pupil and community consultation, which identifies barriers and provides the school with a clear action plan for the promotion of sustainable travel. This approach has contributed to the reduction in the number of children travelling to school by car in Leeds from 28. 4% in 2007 to 25.8% in 2016.

Leeds education providers have diversified over recent years, with the introduction of free schools, academies, through schools and further education (FE) colleges providing vocational education from the age of 14 years. This, coupled with the increase in the number of children in the city and parental choice, has led to many pupils not attending their nearest schools but travelling further to schools that best suit their needs.

This strategy seeks to widen the choice and travel options available to children and young people of all ages. The strategy sets a clear direction that will promote more sustainable, safer and less car dependent patterns of travel on the school journey by bringing together key partners and communities. The strategy will:

  • continue to meet the requirements of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, to promote sustainable travel in schools and FE establishments
  • ensure all schools and FE establishments have a travel plan that is implemented and monitored annually.
  • enable parents to access sustainable travel information on each school in the district through the school admissions booklet or on the Leeds City Council website.
  • create a platform to unite all external and internal stakeholders in the delivery of sustainable school travel and help progress towards the Best City outcomes.
  • provide direction to schools and colleges and partner organisations, to achieve the outcome of a reduction to single occupancy car use, whilst also promoting a safe and active lifestyle.

1. Introduction


Leeds is the regional capital of the Yorkshire and Humberside region and is the second largest Metropolitan District in England covering an area of 552 square kilometres. It is recognised as one of Britain’s most successful cities socially, economically and environmentally and is shaped by a council leading an effective city partnership in pursuit of a clear, strong, widely supported vision.  


In 2014, Leeds had a growing population of 766 399 people (source ONS). There are a higher proportion of young people than the national average, with Leeds having a large student population. More than 180,000 children and young people aged 0 - 19 live in the city. There are 118, 000 school aged pupils in Leeds (excluding independent schools and FE/HE) in 302 Children and Young Peoples learning establishments and schools.  


Education establishments in England and Wales have changed over the past 5 years. In 2010 the Government introduced legislation to make it possible for all schools to become academies. In addition, in June 2010 the Education Secretary also invited proposals from groups wanting to set up free schools. In 2016 Leeds had 53 academy schools and 6 free schools.  


The educational environment no longer involves young people automatically attending their designated local school or college. Parent, carer and pupil preferences are supported by increased diversity of education provision. In addition, the increased attendance age in either education or training from 16 to 18 years adds to the complexity of school travel due to the increasing distances being travelled by students.  


Leeds has an ambition to be a Child Friendly City where the voices, needs and priorities of children and young people are heard, where schools are improving and inclusive, where every young child and every young person can be healthy, happy, be safe and feel safe and supported to have the best start in life and where no child is left behind.  


All schools in Leeds have a travel plan and actively promote safe and sustainable travel to school through a variety of initiatives and campaigns. Travel plans are monitored through an electronic travel planning system which also recognises achievements through national accreditation. New and expanding schools that require planning approval produce travel plans in accordance with the Travel Plans supplementary planning document (SPD) and appropriate infrastructure and facilities are installed to enable delivery of the travel plan measures.  


The context for school travel plans also includes the wider traffic and environmental management of school travel especially air quality and congestion. Journeys to school are a significant generator of trips as well as road vehicle emissions of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Managing air quality is a particular issue with six defined Air Quality Management Areas and proposals are now being prepared for a Clean Air Zone to reduce pollution in line with national and European standards by 2020.  

2. Policy


Cross functional working across the Council’s Planning Services, Public Health, Highways and Transportation, Children’s Services and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) draws on national, regional and local policies to enable and promote sustainable travel across the city.  


The Vision for Leeds (2011 - 2030) sets out the community strategy and aims for Leeds to be the best city in the UK by 2030. It includes a commitment to create a sustainable travel culture, increase the investment in walking and cycling and lower carbon emissions. Within this context, the City Council has a key ambition for Leeds to be a Child Friendly City - by creating places and services where children and young people feel safe, welcome, involved and informed about what goes on around them. In taking this initiative forward, 12 ‘wishes’ have been developed for a more child friendly Leeds. These include, travel, places and spaces, and a healthy lifestyle. The Best Council Plan 2015-20 provides updated priorities on an annual basis that helps with progression towards achieving The Vision for Leeds (2011 – 2030).  


The Local Development Framework (LDF) provides the overall context for new development in the city and the draft Site Allocations Plan (SAP) 2015 provides site allocations and requirements that will help to deliver the Core Strategy policies and ensure that sufficient land is available in appropriate locations to meet the targets set out in the Core Strategy. The SAP highlights the number of additional school places needed to meet the demand for new housing developments. Where necessary, housing allocations will set aside land for provision of a school or schools, to ensure that there are sufficient school places to meet the needs of an expanding population.  


Leeds LDF Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) 2014 on travel plans elaborates on the policy requirement relating to travel plans included in the Leeds Core Strategy and sets out the Council’s requirements for the submission of a travel plan in support of a planning application. It is also intended for use by existing firms or organisations who wish to draw up a travel plan to facilitate more efficient and sustainable working practices.  


Regionally, The West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan 3 (LTP3), ‘My Journey-connecting people and places’ 2011 – 2026, sets out how to tackle congestion in West Yorkshire. The West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) is developing a new Transport Strategy (TS) and 20 year strategy for transport for the period 2016 - 2036. The TS will replace the existing Local Transport Plan (LTP3) with one single plan and will provide a new vision for transport across the region. In addition, WYCA also consulted on a new bus strategy which sets out what buses across West Yorkshire should achieve between 2016 - 2036.  


In 2016, Leeds embarked on a ‘transport conversation’ with its residents, businesses and visitors in order to develop a future transport strategy and make plans for transport investment across the city. This was led by a promise from government to release £173.5m to Leeds. This funding was further supplemented by additional sources resulting in £270m projected to be spent in Leeds over the next five years. Provisional schemes include  

  • bus Priority enhancements to key radial routes
  • investment in First Bus fleet providing the city with low emission vehicles
  • development of three new stations while a further four will see improvements to access and facilities
  • investment in real time infrastructure
  • “smart” technology capability across the transport network


These principles will work to provide more reliable and comfortable journeys which will assist with the delivery of the travel plan for each school and FE Institution. A step change in the transport offer will also enhance the opportunities for young people not in education employment or training (NEETS) to access courses which will enable their skills development.  

3. Aims and objectives


In developing and implementing the sustainable travel strategy, the Council and its partners need to balance the objectives of national and local strategies to deliver a safe and sustainable transport network that encourages the health and environmental benefits of walking, cycling and public transport to all the children and young people of Leeds. This includes providing a safe environment for walking and cycling and a safe and reliable school bus or public transport service.  


As such the overall aim of this strategy is to:  

Enable and promote the use of safe and sustainable travel to all children and young people of Leeds and increase the number of children and young people walking, cycling and using public transport to access schools and colleges.  


To deliver the aims of this strategy clear objectives have been set alongside a comprehensive action plan for the next 5 years.  


  • Develop, implement and monitor travel plans in all schools and FE establishments.
  • Develop innovative projects, initiatives and campaigns to promote and support sustainable travel within schools and FE establishments.
  • Work in partnership with stakeholders, both within and external to the Council, to maximise the effectiveness of travel plan measures and initiatives as an integrated part of transport, health and education strategies.
  • Develop measures which improve the safety and appeal of sustainable school travel choices.
  • Collaborate with WYCA and public transport operators to encourage more sustainable travel to school.
  • Influence and inform the design and development of new and extended schools and FE establishments with regard to safe and sustainable travel.
  • Work with regional partners to develop resources, organise training and share best practice.
  • To contribute to the immediate long term health and wellbeing of children and young people in Leeds.
  • To reduce traffic, ease congestion and reduce carbon emissions around schools.
  • To use travel planning to create a culture of active and sustainable travel amongst children and parents.

4. School travel plans


A School Travel Plan aims to reduce the number of children being driven to school and encourages more sustainable modes of transport such as cycling, walking and public transport. How children and young people travel to school is an important issue in Leeds due to levels of congestion and pollution around schools and major roads in the area. The health of children in Leeds is also of concern as locally and nationally figures show that obesity levels, despite stabilising, are still too high and this is partly attributed to sedentary lifestyles.  


The Sustainable Education Travel Strategy and school travel plans are the main methodology used by the Council to fulfil the requirements of the statutory duty of the Education Inspections Act 2006 section 508A. The travel plan provides a clear strategy to each school on how it aims to promote sustainable travel to parents, visitors, staff and pupils attending the school. It also identifies barriers through the extensive consultation process, highlights appropriate initiatives to develop and implement in school, and audits the infrastructure in and around the local area.  


The information gathered through the travel plan process is used to inform many of the services within the council; particularly Highways and Transportation. Information provided through the travel plan can help to identify the most appropriate locations for supportive infrastructure programmes, particularly pedestrian and cycle crossings, traffic calming measures and 20mph zones. It is widely consulted on regarding the location of facilities in planning applications for residential areas and when considering safe routes to school.  


In Leeds, all state maintained schools, academies and free schools have a school travel plan in place. All new build schools and existing schools that are expanding are required to submit a new or updated travel plan as part of their planning application and in accordance with the Travel Plan Supplementary Planning Document.  

All schools in Leeds have a School Travel Plan.  


All planning obligated school travel plans are monitored by the school and verified annually by council officers through the online Modeshift Sustainable Travel Accreditation and Recognition for Schools (STARS) database.  


All non-planning obligated schools can also choose to implement and monitor their school travel plan by using the Modeshift STARS online database to achieve a national accreditation for the reduction of car travel to school and the promotion of road safety initiatives.  


To monitor the success of school travel plans, the usual travel to school mode is recorded by the annual school census. The long term trend of; ‘percentage of pupils travelling to school by car’, has gradually decreased from 28.39 % in 2007 to 25.8% in 2016. Walking to school since 2008 has risen steadily to 55.6% in 2016. The public transport trend is generally in decline at 14.8% in 2016 and cycling to school still remains well below the national average of 4%, currently standing at 0.5 %.  


How pupils travel to school is collected through the school census with over 90% of schools supplying data annually. Work is on-going to improve the quality of this data, for example, at present, in some schools; the mode of transport is only collected at pupil entry stage and is not updated annually. This approach fails to identify any changes to their pupils’ mode of travel as they progress through the school in subsequent years.  

Car journeys to school reduced from 28.39% 2007 to 25.8 % in 2016.  

4.9 Promotional initiatives

The Council’s Influencing Travel Behaviour Team (ITB) delivers a wide programme of promotional safe and sustainable travel events and initiatives alongside road safety education and training. Increasingly over recent years the available budget has been actively targeted at road safety work that is largely focused around children and young people. Promotional events are delivered directly in schools and to children and young people at community events in the city, many in partnership with internal and external organisations including Cycle Leeds, Active Schools, Public Health, Sustrans, The Works and West Yorkshire Combined Authority who support the delivery of themed and national promotions by providing additional staffing and promotional resources.  

4.10 Sustainable travel accreditation and recognition for schools (STARS)

In 2013, the Council introduced a monitoring and accreditation scheme for all schools that submitted a travel plan as part of a planning application. Modeshift STARS is a national accreditation scheme that monitors travel plans through a data base and awards accreditation to schools that implement sustainable travel initiatives and achieves modal shift away from the car. The website has been in development for two years and Leeds City Council has been jointly piloting the scheme to improve its performance.  

Case study: Modeshift STARS

Leeds City Council has helped in the development of Modeshift STARS which is an online travel plan monitoring and accreditation system available to all schools in Leeds. STARS recognises schools that have shown excellence in promoting road safety skills and sustainable travel by encouraging cycling, walking and public transport for their journey to school; and by rewarding them with a Bronze, Silver and Gold Level accreditation. To date 103 Leeds schools are actively using STARS and 17 Leeds schools have achieved a Bronze, Silver or Gold award.  

In 2015, Rawdon Littlemoor Primary won the first ever title of National STARS School of the Year. They were the first school in Leeds to achieve Gold level STARS and won the regional awards for the North East & Yorkshire and Humber for reducing car use.   

The school managed to almost halve the number of pupils travelling to school by car, reducing car travel from 45.9% to 27.4% between 2013 and 2015 and they have increased the number of pupils cycling to school from 0 to 42. They have introduced themed initiatives such as Spooky and Santa scoots to promote scooting to school. The school have involved all members of the school community; staff, pupils, parents and governors in developing and promoting sustainable travel events, creating a cycling ethos within the school and embedding sustainable travel in the curriculum. Fundraising events for a cycle track included a Glastonbury style festival in which over 500 parents and pupils camped out overnight.  

5. Engineering

Safer journeys to school


A school travel plan may identify desired improvements on the highway to support safe and sustainable travel to school. These may reflect requirements for highway improvements identified through casualty figures, traffic management, new developments and community needs.  


There is an ongoing programme of 20 mph schemes being delivered in Leeds centred on schools. Around 15 schemes per annum are being delivered which will lead to the overall programme being completed by the end of the 2019/2020 financial year for the vast majority of schools in Leeds. These schemes initially had a purely road safety focus but reducing speed limits in local communities also encourage sustainable modes of travel such as walking, cycling and scooting.  


A total of 157 schools are situated within a 20 mph speed limit in Leeds including 40 schemes adjacent to the City Connect corridor, completed in spring 2016.  


This is complemented by a road safety engineering programme which allocates annual funding to schemes that target vulnerable road users; cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. It also delivers minor engineering schemes to address barriers identified through the travel plan process or Modeshift STARS to encourage walking, cycling or scooting to school. In the interests of road safety, and when justified through an evidence based approach, formal parking restrictions may be introduced to better manage and control parking around schools.  

£1.5m of LTP funding allocated in 2016/17 to road safety engineering projects which target vulnerable road users.

Audit of infrastructure


The on-going audit of travel infrastructure will be through the travel plan process, either by planning application, monitoring travel plans, Councillor and school contact or requests or through the STARS system. In addition, an audit of infrastructure/facilities survey is sent to all schools annually. Information provided by schools is available on the Leeds City Council Website ‘Find a School’ page and published alongside schools in the admission booklet which is available to all parents.  

Case study: 20mph speed limit

Leeds City Council is implementing a programme of 20mph speed limits around schools prioritised by road casualty data. By 2017, 180 schools will be located within a 20mph speed limit.  

The 20mph schemes cover the whole school catchment area and are accompanied by school specific packages of complementary road safety education and training as well as the promotion of active travel when travelling to school.  

In 2015, £30k from public health supported the Middleton 20mph scheme which included Clapgate Primary, Windmill Primary, Middleton St Phillip’s Primary, Middleton St Mary’s Primary, Westwood Primary and Middleton Primary.  

Middleton Primary School launched the 20mph scheme for the Middleton area in January 2016. The scheme involved a design- a- sign competition that will be placed at all the gateways to the 20mph scheme. The school also took part in a road safety education day involving a road safety assembly, scooter training, a Speed Indication Device (SID) activity, Bikeability Balance training and Bikeability Level 2. In addition the school received the Safety Rangers programme which included a reaction timer activity, large goods vehicle awareness training, and involvement from local Police officers.  

20mph schemes have been effective in improving road safety, reducing the number of accidents by over 40% and halving pedestrian and child casualties in the areas of Leeds where the schemes have been introduced.  

6. Planning


A key element of the planning process is ensuring that effective travel plans for new and improved schools are submitted with the planning application. Travel plans will be developed in accordance with the best practice guidance in the Travel Plan SPD, monitored by the schools and validated by the Influencing Travel Behaviour team, to ensure that they  

7. Education

Scope of education provision


Leeds schools serve the 4 to 18 years age range (4-11years primary and 11-18years secondary), but there are also 2 infant schools (for ages 4 to 7) and 2 junior schools (for ages 7 to 11), in addition to 3 through schools for children between 4 - 18 years. All local authority primary schools offer a comprehensive education and cater for children of all abilities. All state schools, academies and free schools are non-selective.  


Leeds has a strong higher education sector with three Universities; the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University College. The City is also home to 6 FE colleges, Leeds City College, Leeds College of Art, Leeds College of Music, Leeds College of Building the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and the University Technical College (14-19 year olds).  

The Learning Places Programme


The Learning Places Programme represents the Council’s response to the demographic growth pressures on the school provision in the city. The rapidly increasing birth rate in Leeds has required the Council to approve over 1500 new reception places since 2009 in order to fulfil its statutory duty to ensure sufficiency of school places. Across the 22 planning areas there was a need for up to 17 forms of entry, over 500 reception places of additional primary capacity which have been added in 2016. Demographics suggest that the birth rate levels out after 2016; up to 20 forms of entry are expected to be delivered in 2017 and 2018. Pressure on places will also generate a number of large scale projects to expand secondary and specialist provision across the city.  

Statutory school transport assistance


Leeds’s Home to School Transport Policy for Children with Special Educational Needs is to embrace a more aspirational strategy which will aim to allow Special Educational Needs pupils to travel with the highest degree of independence as their abilities will safely allow. By opening up new levels of independence and enhancing life skills, the future trend will increasingly be that higher proportions of Special Educational Needs pupils will travel by sustainable modes of transport.  


The placement of Special Educational Needs pupils within local mainstream schools has seen further inroads in reducing the levels of ‘taxi dependency’ in the Special Educational Needs sector, and as a direct result provides a wider choice of options reducing the dependency on taxis to get children to their places of learning.  



The Council publishes the admissions policy for community and voluntary controlled schools and has a duty to coordinate admissions to all schools and academies in the Leeds District. One of the eligibility criteria for admission to any community school is the prioritisation of places to those children living closest to schools. Without infringing parents’ rights to express a preference for a school of their choice for their children, this policy serves both to offer fair access to local schools and to reduce the need to have to travel long distances to and from school.  

8. Sustainable travel



The city has a strategic plan for cycling at the heart of which is a Core Network of cycle routes connecting together the main communities and the city centre. Seventeen routes have been identified of which 8 have been substantially completed including the development of two new “superhighways”.  


The West Yorkshire Cycling Map external link now covers the entire district. Using the map, cycle journeys to school can be planned to take advantage of the most appropriate and safer routes for cycling, which are not always obvious on the ground, making cycling easier and more pleasant. The map will be kept under review and developed further as new facilities are delivered. The map is further complemented by more locally specific maps as the Core Cycle Network and superhighway construction programme proceeds.  

City Connect super cycle highway provides a mainly segregated safe cycling route which passes close to 42 schools in Leeds.  


The City Connect project has provided a new 14 mile long cycle superhighway from Seacroft in the East to Leeds City Centre and on to Bradford City Centre, along with improvements to the Leeds and Liverpool canal towpath from Leeds to Shipley. The route passes close to 42 schools in Leeds and provides a mainly segregated safe cycling route. The City Connect 2 programme is developing key superhighway linkages across the city centre through and adjacent to some of the most deprived wards in the city.  


The provision of appropriate cycle parking for schools is an integral part of planning requirements for all new schools in Leeds and forms part of the developers planning obligations in line with the LDF and the SPD on travel plans. Similarly schools expanding to meet the needs of the increase in pupil numbers in the city will also need to either install or increase the amount of cycle parking they provide accordingly.  

79% of Leeds schools provide cycle parking.


A Cycling Strategy for the city is being developed as part of Leeds Tour De France 2014 Grand Depart Legacy. Future direction is being informed by the results of the wide scale consultation recently undertaken for the ‘Cycling Starts Here’ programme.  

38,532 Y6/Y7 pupils have received Bikeability training since 2010.


The promotion of cycling in schools is delivered by a range of internal and external partners. The ITB team, Active Schools and Sport and Active Lifestyles provide fun activities and training to pupils. Cycle Leeds delivers bikeability training on behalf of Leeds City Council. City Connect, Sustrans, British Cycling and other organisations offer a variety of supplementary activities to promote cycling as a sport, leisure or commuting activity.  

Case study: National Bike Week

Leeds City Council supports National Bike Week by promoting cycling to school and delivering bespoke cycle training and cycling events to schools around Leeds. The number of schools actively taking part in Bike Week has steadily increased from 22 schools in 2009 to 68 schools in 2015.  

Organised events in schools have ranged from led rides with pupils from various Otley schools riding to Almscliffe Crag in 2009, to the Leeds School Cycle Challenge 2014 which brought 50 Leeds Primary Schools and 5 special schools (550 pupils) together at Temple Newsam to take part in a junior Tour de Yorkshire. Pupils have also cycled from Wigton Moor Primary to Harewood House to welcome the Olympic torch in 2012 and in 2013 saw Corpus Christi and Rodillian High Schools hold a celebration of cycling involving bike checks, a roller bike challenge, bikers’ breakfasts and a raffle.  

In 2015, 80 pupils from 7 schools took part in a led cycle ride along 3 of the routes of the Leeds Core Cycle Network from Garforth, Middleton and Horsforth where pupils were met by Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, at The Royal Armouries Museum for lunch and activities before cycling back to school.  



Walking is a central part of promoting sustainable travel to school. Walking remains one of the most popular ways for children to travel to school in Leeds, with well over half of the children and young people choosing this mode of travel since 2008. The promotion of walking, through initiatives and events, can encourage children to get active on the journey to school. In addition, the promotion of park and walk sites near schools means that even those that are unable to walk the entire distance of the journey can use a sustainable mode on part of the way to school and help ease congestion around the school gates.  


Engineering infrastructure such as traffic calming, pedestrian crossings and the creation of safer routes to school can make the journey to school safer. These measures can complement initiatives to promote walking which can provide or enhance the life skills of children and their carers to support a safer journey to school.  


The Council has supported a range of measures to promote walking to school including “Walkshire,” the web based interactive game to promote walking and scooting to school, “Walk to School Week” and the ‘Go Green’ schemes. The road safety education and training programmes support the delivery of walking events and initiatives with assemblies, pedestrian skills training and scooter training.  

Walking to school increased from 47.9% in 2006 to 55.6% in 2016.  

Public transport


The West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) is responsible for the delivery of school transport in Leeds on behalf of the Local Authority.  


‘My bus’ yellow school buses were introduced in 2003 thanks to a successful bid to the Department for Transport. ‘My bus’ vehicles incorporate features such as allocated places, seatbelts, CCTV and a dedicated driver who drives the vehicle every day.  


In summer 2014, WYCA secured £1m funding from the ‘Clean Bus Technology’ grant from the Department for Transport, to install clean bus technology to reduce emissions and make them better for the environment. In addition to this WYCA matched the £1m with a further £800,000. As part of the project, every yellow bus has been fitted with a system that helps the drivers to drive in a more fuel-friendly manner, cutting carbon and improving air quality.  


A key part of access to public transport is knowing where and how to access information. Young people have access to the full spectrum of information services including MetroLine / My bus hotline, website, journey planner, ‘yournextbus’ real time information channels, bus stations, travel centres, printed timetables and leaflets, together with targeted advertising campaigns with clear and specific messages. All young people who live in West Yorkshire from the ages of 11-18 are entitled to half fare bus and rail travel on production of an 11-18 photocard. See Metro's schools transport website external link for further details.  


Metro's schools transport website external link includes the latest information on tickets, passes and school bus services. Metro also has a presence on social media channels including Twitter and Facebook.  

All students ages 11 to 18 years are entitled to a half fare bus pass.  

9. Health and the environment


Healthy Schools Initiative


The refreshed School Health Check 2015 builds on the underlying principles of the National Healthy Schools Programme and has been revised in consultation with schools and health partners and is available to all schools. The self-evaluation tool draws on the latest Ofsted National guidance and best practice, and uses grade descriptors. Schools can identify their strengths and areas for development and these can be added quickly into a simple online action plan. School travel plans form part of the Physical Activity, Physical Education and School Sport grade descriptors, and appears in 6 of them.  

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) in Leeds


Childhood obesity is a major public health concern and one which has grown in importance over the last few decades. From the mid - 1990s until 2007 childhood obesity rose by around one percentage point every two years showing a worrying upward trend. The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) is a national initiative designed to gather valuable data to support improved understanding of the causes of childhood obesity and aid the development of interventions for its prevention and treatment.  

Active schools


Active Schools promote and develop, through collaboration and partnership, a sustainable system for physical activity, PE and sport that enriches the lives of all children and young people. By working in partnership and by providing a strategic lead for schools, Active Schools aim to increase the number of children participating in school sport, help prevent childhood obesity and support schools in enabling children and young people to become more active. One of the key aims is to influence young people and their families to develop physically active habits for life.  

170 schools are signed up to Active Schools programme in Leeds.  

Air quality


Leeds is developing plans for air quality management including a Clean Air Zone and a package of supporting measures. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that schools may consider that opportunities exist to improve local air quality around the school by implementing a “no idling zone.” This is something which could augment the educational campaigns and initiatives being developed to engage with parents, students, teachers and service providers such as bus and taxi drivers.  

10. Funding and resources


The City Council’s Influencing Travel Behaviour Team delivers an extensive programme to develop, promote and implement sustainable travel initiatives in schools throughout Leeds. The budget for the team meets the costs of this team of road safety officers and trainers and the resources they need (approximately £437,000 in 2016/17). A substantial part of this resource is allocated for pedestrian skills training, Year 6 transition programme, 20mph initiatives, and safe and sustainable travel events in schools which complement the development and implementation of travel plans.  


Leeds City Council maximises funding opportunities to promote sustainable travel by applying for government grants and through partnership working. Currently funding from central government helps each local authority to prepare a sustainable travel strategy and supports cycle training (approximately £300, 000 in 2016/17). The Local Sustainable Transport Fund contributed to the delivery of sustainable travel through the Access to Education Programme, Go Walking and the Go Cycling Scheme. These projects were funded until March 2016.  


The Cycle City Ambition Grant and WYCA provided funding from the Department for Transport for the ‘City Connect 1’ project to provide a cycle superhighway connection between Leeds and Bradford. Further DfT funding was allocated in March 2015 for the ‘City Connect 2’ project to expand additional cycle routes across West Yorkshire. The City Connect projects also deliver complementary engagement and promotional activities to promote cycling in communities and within schools alongside/neighbouring the route. This is achieved through close collaborative working between the City Connect Communications & Engagement team and Leeds City Council’s Influencing Travel Behaviour team to ensure there is a consistent approach with no duplication of effort.  

Case study: City Connect

City Connect Leeds-Bradford Cycle Super highway opened in June 2016. It delivers a 14 mile off road cycle route alongside access to bikes, cycle storage, maps, training and promotional events. It gives children near the new cycle route the opportunity to ride to school safely. Events delivered in the summer 2016 include bike safaris, and led rides. Working with Cycle Leeds, 305 children living near the route have received training on how to ride a bike so far, 180 have cycled on the superhighway, and children from 5 local schools took part in a 6 mile cycle ride along the tow path for the opening event. There has been direct engagement with over 1000 people face-to-face – through consultation events, stakeholder groups and stalls at local festivals. The recently launched Bike Friendly Business Scheme to support local businesses has already had interest from 7 sites across Leeds & Bradford, and a further 8 sites have benefited from the installation of 160 extra secure bike parking spaces. Plans to expand the Bike Friendly scheme specifically for schools are well underway.  


The delivery of the 20mph ‘design a sign’ competition in schools, development of Bike Week 2016, plus cycling and road safety education and training in schools have been delivered in partnership by sharing and directing resources to areas of priority.  


Funding for the West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan 2011 - 2026 supports measures to assist sustainable travel to school, including a programme of 20mph schemes around schools and the provision of new road crossings (amounting to £600,000 in 2016/17). Funding has also been provided on a project specific basis by the Director of Public Health.  


Looking forward, Leeds City Council are maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of staffing and financial resources by working in partnership with key organisations and internal departments such as, WYCA, Cycle Leeds, West Yorkshire Police and the 3rd sector to deliver training and promotional events to promote sustainable travel to school. Leeds City Council are embracing capital scheme funding opportunities to deliver road safety schemes and are actively working with WYCA to submit bids for government funding such as the Access Fund.  

11. Consultation and engagement


A School Travel Steering Group has been set up to support the delivery of the school travel plan programme and this is being expanded to meet the demands of delivering the Sustainable Travel Strategy. This will consist of internal and external organisations that will be responsible for promoting sustainable transport to schools and colleges.  

Strategy consulation


We engage with the Head Teachers Forum to gain their comments about the strategy and also liaise closely with colleagues in Childrens Services, Public Health and other partner agencies to seek their views. However, the vast majority of the consultation work for the strategy comes as a direct result of working with schools and school communities whilst we are helping them to develop and implement their school travel plans.  

Strategy engagement


In Schools, staff engage with parents, pupils, local residents and school governors to develop and implement their travel plan which identifies barriers and helps determine which initiatives and promotions to implement. Schools are encouraged to set up a school travel working group involving the school, families and the wider community and to include the travel plan in school policy documents such as the school development plan.  

Case study: Horsforth Newlaithes Primary School’s Green Forum

Horsforth Newlaithes Primary School’s Green Forum is led by pupils to promote sustainable travel. It’s members includes teaching and support staff, PCSO’s, local councillors, residents, parents, head teacher, senior leadership team, school council, allotment society and 1 pupil from every year group. The group meets every half term to generate ideas, plan, publicise and deliver events with the local community; it feeds into the School Council and contributes to the School Development Plan.  

Since the forum was established, there have been a range of initiatives organised by the group e.g. Spooky Scoot in October by 233 pupils, walking bus , the Big Pedal in April raised £173 and in January 2016 they held a sponsored event to buy additional scooter and bike storage.  

The group records evidence from events which are uploaded to the school website and published in newsletters. The forum sends out leaflets to local residents and provides sufficient space where local residents can advise the school of ideas, comments and observations.  

12. Monitoring and evaluation


The Sustainable Travel Strategy is an evolving document that will change over time to reflect changing policy and the changing needs of schools and FE establishments. The audit of travel and transport infrastructure and mode of travel to school are undertaken in all schools annually as this helps to identify barriers to sustainable travel and directs appropriate resources to schools in most need. The SETS action plan will be monitored as part of the 6 monthly steering group meeting to ensure actions are meeting the desired outcomes.  


Evaluation of the data from the annual audit, particularly in relation to the pupil’s mode of travel, provides a clear picture of the results that this strategy is delivering on its objectives. It is also clear from the information available, that those schools and FE establishments that fully embrace and support the development and implementation of their travel plans have the biggest impact on increasing the numbers of pupils that travel sustainably.  


Road casualty data is closely monitored and reported upon quarterly to both internal and external partner agencies with a public annual report being published on the Leeds City Council website. The road casualty data is subject to additional in-depth analysis with adverse trends and patterns identified. These trends and patterns then determine the ‘priority areas’ and key target groups to which resources can be directed. This robust data led approach has helped the council to achieve a 35% decrease in the number of children and young people (0 – 19yrs) killed or seriously injured over the last decade (95 KSI in 2006 and 62 KSI in 2016).  


The Strategy will be implemented by the School Travel Steering Group who will meet regularly to discuss progress and update stakeholders and partners on key issues. The strategy’s action plan and outcomes will be reviewed and monitored annually, with a summary and outcomes posted on Leeds City Council’s website. Each action will be reviewed individually by the organisation responsible to ensure that objectives are achieved.  

Contact us

To provide feedback or for further information please contact the Influencing Travel Behaviour (ITB) team:


0113 378 7433