Publication - Advice and guidance

School transport guidance 2021

Published: 2 Sep 2021
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Education, Transport

This document updates the guidance to local authorities about the provision of school transport and replaces the School Transport Guidance Circular issued in 2003 (Circular No 7/2003 ).

School transport guidance 2021
Section 5 - Promoting greener, healthier travel choices

Section 5 - Promoting greener, healthier travel choices

5.1 - Active Travel

64. The Scottish Government is committed to a long term vision for active travel[32] that encourages promotes walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing in preference to single occupancy car use for movement of people, and encourages efficient and sustainable freight.

65. Support is available through a variety of initiatives, such as:

  • Safer Routes to Schools - Sustrans[33] will help fund and deliver improvements to school routes to make them safer and better places for people to walk and cycle
  • Bikeability[34] - Cycling Scotland deliver cycling training to school children to give then the skills and confidence needed to cycle safely to school
  • WOW[35] (Walk Once a Week) is a programme run by Living Streets that encourages and rewards children to walk to school
  • I Bike – a series of interventions at local authority school clusters to support and encourage cycling to school
  • Cycle / Scooter storage – Sustrans provide grants to allow schools to build secure cycle and scooter parking areas

5.2 - Road Safety Scotland

66. Road Safety Scotland[36], in its education function, has developed a suite of learning resources for 3-18 year-olds made freely available across Scotland. In collaboration with the Scottish Government's Marketing and Insight Unit and a number of partner agencies, it also ensures that major at-risk groups or behaviours are tackled through publicity and/or social marketing campaigns.

67. Road Safety Scotland develops and maintains high-quality resources written by teachers for teachers and linked to Curriculum for Excellence, made available online to allow access to resources for use with children and young people aged 3-18. These include:

  • For Early Years, the 'Out and About' buggy book for 0-3 years and 'Go Safe with Ziggy' resource for 3-6 years;
  • For Primary (First and Second Levels), 'Streetsense2' and the 'Junior Road Safety Officer' scheme, which operates in most of the 32 local authorities across Scotland;
  • For Lower Secondary (Third and Fourth Level), the main resource is 'Your Call';
  • For Upper Secondary (Senior Phase), the main resource is 'Crash Magnets'.
  • Additional digital resources include: a section of the website for pedestrians with additional support needs; a section for those about to embark on a driving career; a reaction timer; and an app which uses a gaming platform to enhance child pedestrian training.

68. Current or planned social marketing activities includes campaigns relating to speeding; country roads; motorcyclists; young drivers; drink-driving; drug-driving; fatigue; seatbelts and driver distraction.

69. Road Safety Scotland also produces leaflets aimed at parents of young or new drivers and is a key partner in the Scottish Good Egg In-car Safety Campaign, which seeks to ensure that all children travelling in cars are properly restrained.

5.3 - Eco-Schools

70. The Eco-Schools Scotland programme comprises seven elements incorporating eight environmental topics, one of which is transport.[37] Participating schools can apply for a bronze, silver or green award, depending on how many of the seven elements they have achieved.

71. Objectives of the transport topic can include:

  • encouraging and enabling parents and children to walk, cycle and use public transport;
  • setting up a working group with school, parent, local authority, community, police, and transport representatives to run a school travel or 'safer routes to school' project;
  • writing and implementing a school travel plan;
  • running an effective road safety awareness programme for pupils;
  • raising awareness of the damage caused by transport to the environment and people's health, and;
  • providing adequate support and information about travelling to school for pupils and staff who wish to walk, cycle or use public transport.

5.4 - Clean air

72. Not only does reliance on private cars contribute significantly to traffic congestion, it also has an impact on overall levels of air pollution. All but two of the current Air Quality Management Areas in Scotland have been declared on the basis of transport-related emissions of air pollutants, and any reduction in private car/vehicle use for travel to school could play a useful role in improving local air quality.

73. Vehicle idling outside schools whilst dropping off or picking up pupils also has air quality implications. Under regulation 98 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986[38] it is an offence to leave the engine of a parked vehicle running unnecessarily. The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (Scotland) Regulations 2003[39] provide local authorities with powers to enforce this legislation and to issue fixed penalties to drivers of parked vehicles who refuse to comply. The Scottish Government has issued guidance to local authorities on making use of these powers.[40]

74. 'Switch Off and Breathe', an initiative operated by the East Central Scotland Vehicle Emissions Partnership, provides useful information and guidance on air pollution for members of the public. The Partnership's website has a section dedicated to schools, with a particular focus on discouraging idling in the vicinity of schools.[41]

75. Further air quality information developed specifically for schools is available on the websites for Air Quality in Scotland[42] and SEPA[43], and the Scottish Government's overall approach to air quality policy is set out in its air quality strategy 'Cleaner Air for Scotland 2 – Towards a Better Place for Everyone'.[44]

5.5 - Zero Emission Transport

76. The transport sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Scotland. In the context of a global climate emergency, and youth climate strikes taking place across Scotland and the world, the Scottish Parliament set legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gases by 75% by 2030, and 100% by 2045, compared to 1990 levels[45].

77. As the average life of a new diesel vehicle is around 15 years, action needs to be taken now to ensure Scotland meets its climate targets and ends Scotland's contribution to climate change. Local Authorities have a key role to play and are working to reduce corporate emissions as well as taking action locally through the range of services they deliver and procure. Local Authorities are encouraged to consider ways to remove greenhouse gas emissions from school transport, recognising the public sector is a significant consumer and therefore local policy is an important factor for influencing vehicle choice among operators. Zero-emission buses are increasingly price competitive with their diesel counterparts over their whole lives and that this trend is expected to continue.

5.6 - Planning for new schools

78. The Scottish Government publishes a range of guidance for local authorities to help promote well-designed schools. The publication 'Learning Estate Strategy'[46]- and its guiding principles provide a platform for investment in the learning estate across Scotland and set out our strategic approach for managing the learning estate, including consideration of the transport needs of local communities who will use the school site.

79. The Scottish Government has also published guidance for local authorities reporting on the condition[47] and suitability[48] of the school estate. These documents seek to further improve the consistency and robustness of the reporting of the Condition and Suitability Schools Core Facts data.

80. Scottish Futures Trust[49] and Architecture and Design Scotland[50] have produced a wealth of information available for use when planning for new schools. The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019[51] was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2019. This will determine the future structure of the modernised planning system.

6.1 - Coronavirus Pandemic

81. Guidance for local authorities, schools and transport operators on requirements during the Coronavirus pandemic is available on[52]