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Walk to school

Themes: society, citizenship, rights and responsibilities, rules, laws, justice.

Summary: This assembly could be scheduled during Walk to School Week (every May) or International Walk to School Month (October). According to campaigners Living Streets: 'A generation ago, 70% of us walked to school - now it's less than half.' Walking to school is a good idea for all sorts of why do so many pupils arrive by transport...and what can be done to encourage safe walking?

Resources: Image of children walking to school (see 'Key links')

Key links

The video:

Pupils Evie and Shaeya discuss how they get to school. Shaeya walks, but Evie comes in the car. Only 40% of their classmates come on foot, even less than the national average of 46%. The girls meet Aare Puussaar, from Newcastle University, who helps them test air pollution caused by traffic near their school. They are shocked to discover rush hour air pollution levels are quite high, with small particles from car exhausts that are bad for our lungs. The girls find pollution levels drop when there is less traffic. They agree with their deputy headteacher, Brian Ostro, that parents often have good reasons for bringing their children to school by car. But we will all be fitter and our streets less polluted if we walk to school whenever we can.

Duration: 4' 38"

End of speech: 'I'm going to talk to my parents to see if we can make it happen.'

Video questions

What percentage of children usually walk to Evie and Shaeya's school?


What is the national average for children walking to school?


Which university is air pollution researcher Aare Puussaar from?

Newcastle University

A bus may produce a lot of pollution but why does Aare Puussaar say buses are good for the environment?

He says, 'It's better to have 60 people on one bus than 60 cars on the road.'

What is 'rush hour'?

The time in the morning when most people travel to work or school and the time in the evening when they go home again

Suggested framework

Content Guidance
1. Entry music You could play 'Stop! Look! Listen! Think!' a song from The British Council about safely crossing the road (see 'Related links').
2. Introduction Display the image of children walking to school (see 'Key links'). Encourage the children to listen closely to the entry music and to join in with the song. You might choose children to stand at the front and model the 'Stop! Look! Listen! Think!' moments, as if they were about to cross a road. Explain that today's assembly is about Walk to School Week, when children and families are encouraged to take up the challenge to come to school on foot. Ask: 'Why do you think it might be a good idea to walk to school?' Gather the pupils' responses (eg 'It keeps us fit' / 'It's good to get out of the car' / 'It cuts down traffic and pollution'. Introduce the video with: 'Here's what happened when two pupils set out to discover more about walking to their school...'
3. The video Play the video. The duration is 04' 38" and the final words are: 'I'm going to talk to my parents to see if we can make it happen.'
4. After the video Ask pupils to close their eyes and picture the last walk they took. Was it to school, or somewhere else? What did they see on the way? How did it feel to be outside?
5. Time to talk You could ask some pupils to describe their journey to school, or a favourite walk they have taken. Prompt them with questions: eg 'Did you see or hear anything interesting?' / 'How did it feel to be outside?' Guide the children to think about how good it can feel to get outdoors, even if the weather isn't great. 'Walking helps us notice and value the world around us. And we always feel a little better when we've had the chance to go outside and see the sky.' Ask: 'If we all agree walking to school is a good thing to do, why don't more of us do it? Why do we need a special week to remind us?' The pupils might suggest it's sometimes not practical for parents to take their children on foot; sometimes it might upset family routines and make people late and sometimes parents are worried about children being safe when walking. On the safety point, ask pupils: 'What rules should we follow when we cross the road?' and make a list together - eg: 'Use a crossing if there is one' / 'Never cross between parked cars' / 'Stay close to an adult if you are with one' / 'Look left and right all the time you are crossing and listen out for cars too' / 'Wear something bright and reflective if you're walking in the dark' / 'Hold young children by the hand if you are crossing with them' / 'Keep your dog on a lead when you cross the road.' Conclude with: 'Walking to school is good for us. And because it cuts pollution, it's good for our planet too and all the animals and plants we love to see.'
6. Opportunity to sing If your assembly is to include a song this would be a good time for it. Suggestions from BBC collections below.
7. Opportunity to reflect 'Walking to school is good for us and good for our wonderful planet, its plants and its animals. Even if you can't walk to school, try and make time to get outside and walk somewhere every day, to breathe the fresh air and to see the sky. Where will you walk today?'
8. Opportunity for prayer Use your standard form of address ('Dear God', 'Lord Jesus' etc) and: ‘We thank you for the world we walk through, the clean fresh air and the sky above our heads. Help us to take time to notice our world and to take good care of it. Amen.'

Suggested songs

Song Collection Significant words
'He's got the whole world' (see 'Related links') Come and Praise, no 19 'He's got the wind and the rain... / He's got the plants and the creatures... / He's got everybody here in his hand.'
'As we go' All about our school, no 17 'May we walk with one another / May we help each other on the way.'