Norwich youngsters' walk to school success

Kate ScotterYoungsters in the Norwich area are bucking the trend and putting their best foot forward to get to school, according to latest figures.Kate Scotter

Youngsters in the Norwich area are bucking the trend and putting their best foot forward to get to school, according to latest figures.

National figures have revealed that the proportion of British primary school children walking to school has fallen to less than half.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2008 - the last year for which figures have been made available - just 48pc of youngsters under the age of 10 strolled to their classrooms from home. It represents a drop from 62pc who walked to school in the 1989 to 1991 period.

But in Norfolk, there has been an increase in the number of children walking to school. According to Norfolk County Council's figures, the proportion of children walking to school has gone up from 36pc in 07/08 to 41pc in 08/09. At the same time, the percentage travelling by car has dropped from 30.2pc to 28.2pc.

Adrian Gunson, the county council's cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: 'A lot of money has been spent on building and improving footways that lead from housing developments and parts of villages to schools.

'A lot of money has also been spent on crossings to allow parents and children to walk to school safely and more easily and to make it more attractive to parents and their children to walk to school.'

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Every school in Norfolk has a travel plan to reduce car use and in the current financial year, the county council is spending �840,000 on crossings, �1.1m on new pavements, �940,000 on cycleways and �825,000 through the safer and healthier routes to schools programme.

One school which has been making great strides in encouraging children to walk to school is Millfield Primary School in North Walsham. The school set up a Stamp Stanley project which sees the pupils exchange walking tokens for healthy rewards. The project has received acclaim locally and nationally for tackling environmental issues.

Mr Gunson added: 'It's very important for children to walk or cycle to school not only for their health but also to take cars off the road and it's important that we should give them the opportunity to work or cycle safely and comfortably.

'With a rural county like Norfolk, you are always going to get some parents who need to take their children to school by car but I would like to pay tribute to the work done by parents and children in conjunction with the county council who have taken the opportunities provided to them.'

As part of its Park Safe campaign, the Evening News has been championing safer parking around schools, encouraging more parents and children to walk or cycle to school and warning parents who park unsafely outside the schools of the dangers they are causing.

Are you campaigning for improvements to make it easier and safer for children to walk or cycle to school in the area where you live? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email

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