Teacher treks 14 miles to encourage parents to walk on school run

Sports coach James Roberts i welcomed into St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew after his 14 mile walk. 

Sports coach James Roberts i welcomed into St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew after his 14 mile walk. - Credit: St Williams Primary

A PE teacher put his best foot forward by walking 14 miles to school as part of a project encouraging parents and children to ditch the car. 

James Roberts, sports coach at St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, chose to put his message into practice on the last day of term.

James Roberts during his 14 mile trek into school from his home at Woodton.

St Williams Primary sports coach James Roberts during his 14 mile trek into school from his home at Woodton. - Credit: James Roberts

After a 14 mile (22.6km) trek from his home in Woodton, a four-hour trip that took him through the backroads of Poringland and Trowse, he was welcomed through the school gates by pupils. 

“I wasn’t expecting such an amazing welcome,” he said. “I thought it would just be someone at reception saying ‘morning, you’re a bit late!’ It was lovely to see everyone lining the playground as I walked through.”

Sports coach James Roberts i welcomed into St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew after his 14 mile walk. 

Sports coach James Roberts i welcomed into St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew after his 14 mile walk. - Credit: St Williams Primary

Mr Roberts decided to practice what he preaches as the end of term culmination of a project he set up at Easter called 'The Green Machine' that has encouraged parents and children to walk, cycle or scoot to school. 


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The project to boost health, cut pollution and reduce parking issues around the school has involved special assemblies, challenges and rewards for those getting to school under their own steam or parking further away and walking the last part of the journey. 

Reception pupils at St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew prepare to welcome Mr Roberts.

Reception pupils at St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew prepare to welcome Mr Roberts. - Credit: St Williams Primary

Mr Roberts said: “The children have all absolutely loved it. I stand on the gate usually and they come up so enthusiastic that they’ve walked. Parents have been saying their children have been nagging asking to walk!

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“It has involved the whole school including the nursery children, and each class has had a tally chart every week on how they came to school and we can look back on that and see improvements from when we started.”

St Williams Primary sports coach James Roberts during his 14 mile trek into school from his home at Woodton.

St Williams Primary sports coach James Roberts during his 14 mile trek into school from his home at Woodton. - Credit: James Roberts

Fellow staff members have also been involved and the project even offered pupils the chance for a teacher to walk them in from home.  

Headteacher Sarah Shirras said: “The children have been enthusiastic. They are very proud if they do walk. We have younger children who have learnt to cycle.

“We think we still have about half of our families driving right up to the school, so anything we can do next term to reduce that we are going to continue to do.”

Sarah Shirras, co-chair of Educate Norfolk and headteacher of St William’s Primary School in Thorpe

Sarah Shirras headteacher of St William’s Primary School. - Credit: Simon Parkin


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