The annual conference is an opportunity to find out more about school travel planning and network with people who are interested in sustainable travel for schools.

The theme for last year’s conference was ‘Working with your Community’.

We looked at the different ways schools can work with their community, finding out about the various groups they can engage with and initiatives & projects they can organise at their school.

School travel planning is generally about behaviour change, encouraging people to travel actively, safely and sustainably. The most effective travel plans are from schools that not only participate in meetings, campaigns and initiatives, but also engage with their whole school community. This includes pupils, parents and staff – ensuring that everyone is on board, to promote walking, cycling, scooting and smarter driving.

Madeleine Howe, Localities and Communities Manager, talked about the work of the Local Area Forums and Parish Councils in supporting schools to improve safety for the school journey. How schools can positively work with their local Councillors. She gave examples of projects, costs and timeframes.

Community Speedwatch and Make the Commitment are road safety initiatives, supported by June Howlett, Transport for Buckinghamshire. She spoke to delegates about the benefits of the initiatives and how schools could organise these with their local community.

The Beaconsfield Cycle Group was set up by schools, to develop a project for their community. Becca Dengler, Transport Strategy Lead Officer, told us about the process of setting up the group, identifying and engaging with interested parties and working together to map cycle routes and install cycle storage.

Living Streets Project Manager, Paul Durr, gave a description of the ‘Walk to’ project, working with schools, businesses and communities. He gave some excellent examples of the work being carried out in communities across the country.

Schools then worked in groups, using the ideas from the presentations to think about projects that could be initiated in their school communities. Some thought of projects for their school alone, whilst others started to work on an inter-school project or competition.

We heard about updates to Modeshift STARS from James Hardie, STARS Officer. He explained how Bucks fits into the national picture, which was very pleasing.

Eileen Stewart, Headteacher, and Emma James, STP Co-ordinator, from Stoke Mandeville Combined School, winners of the Modeshift STARS Regional Award for promoting road safety, gave a presentation on the initiatives they have organised to raise awareness of pedestrian safety. It was really useful to hear from a Headteacher who was able to give a clear indication of how active, safe and sustainable travel work fits into so many other areas of school life, in particular the connection to Ofsted.

And finally, Paul Irwin, Deputy Cabinet Member for Transportation, presented STARS plaques to the schools who achieved their first Bronze STARS and those that had progressed from one level to another.

Overall it was a very successful conference. Most delegates found it useful and interesting, and went away feeling motivated and inspired.

The presentations can be downloaded from the Conference page.