The primary responsibility for getting children to and from school rests with parents. Nevertheless where a child lives within the “statutory qualifying distance” of their nearest qualifying school or bus stop, transport assistance may be provided if the Authority considers the route to school is such that a child accompanied by an adult could not walk it in reasonable safety.
Since all roads are potentially dangerous, whether in a rural or urban setting, it is not considered, for that reason alone, necessary to discriminate and make special provision over and above that provided under the normal transport policy. However, from time to time, because of other factors, routes may become of exceptional danger in either the short or long term and it is in these cases where special transport arrangements may be considered subject to the specific criteria set out below.
The measurement of the “statutory qualifying distance” is not necessarily the shortest distance by road. It is measured by the shortest route along which a child, accompanied as necessary, may walk with reasonable safety. As such, the route measured may include footpaths, bridleways and other pathways, as well as recognised roads.
Assessments are conducted in accordance with Road Safety GB “Assessment of Walked Routes to School” Guidelines.
Principles of Assessment:
1. Consideration is given only to relevant highway and traffic conditions and not for personal safety or security reasons (which are the responsibility of the parent/carer).
2. It is assumed that the child would be accompanied as necessary by a responsible parent or other responsible person.
3. Each route is considered objectively on its own merits.
4. For the initial assessment the Authority will drive the route in both directions at either the morning or afternoon school run times; and sections considered unacceptable, will be subject to further detailed assessment.
5. Where a footway or roadside strip of reasonable width and condition exists, or a suitable/adequate public footpath or bridleway is available, this will normally be assumed to provide an acceptable route for that part of the journey.
6. Where a suitable verge exists on a lightly trafficked or narrow road which can be stepped onto by the child and accompanying person when vehicles are passing, it can normally be assumed to provide an acceptable route for that part of the journey.
7. Many routes may lie along roads having neither footway nor verge. On such roads consideration will be given to the width of the carriageway, traffic speed and composition (such as frequent HGV’s) and to visibility (ie sharp bends with high hedgerows or banks or other obstructions to visibility).
8. Consideration will be given to the relevant injury collision record of the route for the latest 3 year period, with particular regard to the effect on pedestrian movements.
9. Where road crossings are necessary, the availability of facilities to assist such crossing should be taken into consideration. Where no crossing facilities exist an assessment of the risks which may be generated by crossing the road (bearing in mind traffic speeds and flows, sight lines etc) will be made using current guidance laid down in the approved published Road Safety GB Guidelines. Any updated or superseding publication will be assessed and adopted where appropriate.
10. It will be assumed that any crossing facilities (zebra, toucan or pelican crossing) will be used where they are provided. If such facilities are not provided and the pedestrian is required to cross the road, the “gap time” of passing vehicles will be assessed to determine a safe crossing point.
11. In reaching a recommendation, the officers concerned will make a critical judgement based on whether the route affords sufficient opportunity for pedestrians and vehicle drivers to avoid dangerous conflict while progressing normally along it.
12. The assessment will be carried out by appropriately trained officers within the Authority who will, in agreement with the Regional Transport Manager, or their representative, recommend whether the route is acceptable or unacceptable.
Making an Appeal:
In order to make an appeal, please complete the application form ‘REQUEST FOR APPEAL APPLICATION FORM’ and return it to: Transport Manager Education Authority – Southern Region 3 Charlemont Place The Mall ARMAGH BT61 9AX
or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important that you detail the reasons why you feel the Authority should provide transport assistance for your child on the grounds of exceptional road safety hazards.