Evaluating the School Travel Co-ordinator Initiative
DHC investigated the role of School Travel Co-ordinators (STCs) and concluded that a more structured approach should be taken to improve delivery. The implementation of joint working protocols, better planning and monitoring of resources, a clear stake for all STCs and an ongoing programme of training should all help towards structuring the STC role. The STC role is not yet seen as a mainstream task for most councils however, if the recommendations of this review are implemented then they will help to ensure that the STC role will be more highly valued in the future.
In 2003 the Scottish Executive provided funding for each Local Authority to set up and maintain the role of a School Travel Co-ordinator to encourage young people and parents to consider healthier and more sustainable forms of transport. SSTAG (Scottish School Travel Advisory Group) provided three main aims for the School Travel Co-ordinator (STC) which included promoting best practise, working across Local Authority Departments and working with others towards a common goal.
Successful areas of delivery for STCs include: assistance with school travel assessments, advice on possible measures for schools, fund assembly and administration of funds to schools, negotiating compromises between different sectors developing materials and other resources, facilitating change to school transport provision, negotiating with planners from new schools, developing targets, co-ordinating partners to improve behaviour on school buses and arranging networking and awareness raising events.
Currently, STCs in Scotland are working with 265 secondary schools and over 1700 primary schools. However, overall the impacts of the initiative have been small because most schools are still at a relatively early stage in planning. It is noted that only 13 secondary schools and 179 schools have implemented travel plans but STCs have helped support a culture change, inject new ideas and build joint approaches in school travel.
The STC initiative has been successful in attracting people into a transport planning role, but the absence of background in transport means that training has been essential for STCs to undertake their role effectively. The lack of early training proved to be a problem, but delivery has been much stronger in the second year of the initiative.
It is recommended that a more structured approach is taken to improve delivery with:
- Joint working protocols to avoid overlaps between initiatives such as health promoting schools, Ecoschools, Active School Co-ordinators and to foster joint working with RSOs (Road Safety Officers), school transport managers, school crossing patrol managers and many others.
- Better planning and monitoring of progress.
- A clear stake for all STCs in managing, funding, fundraising and forecasting of resources is needed for school travel plan delivery.
- An ongoing programme of training for STCs and their partners.
The STC role is not yet seen as a mainstream task by most councils but the lessons from this review will help to ensure that the STC role is more highly valued in the future.