Road safety outside schools

School road safety is a frequently expressed concern. At school drop off and pick up times the roads in the immediate vicinity of schools are especially busy. This often causes slower vehicle speeds and congestion, and can lead to frustration from motorists and residents.

We have developed a policy which describes the process we will use for investigating and responding to concerns about school road safety. Our aim is to reduce the risk of collisions and to make the road feel safer, to encourage more people to consider walking or cycling to and from school.

A school crossing patrol is one of the options that could be considered when investigating the safety issues outside a school. This is included within the policy described above.

After reading our road safety outside school policy below, if you wish to request a road safety outside school assessment, please use our online assessment request form.

Road safety outside schools policy

Policy contents

Introduction

One of the most frequently expressed road safety concerns is that of the safety of children outside schools. At school drop off and pick up times the roads in the immediate vicinity of schools are especially busy and there is usually a high level of vehicle, pedestrian, and cyclist activity. This causes slower vehicle speeds and congestion and very often leads to frustration from residents and motorists at the apparent chaos caused by parents and children arriving or leaving the school.

The purpose of this policy is to set out the process that will be used by Surrey County Council for investigating and responding to concerns about road safety outside schools. The aim is to reduce the risk of collisions, and to make the road feel safer in order to improve the attractiveness of walking and cycling to and from schools.

The county council would like to encourage safe walking and cycling to school, as this is better for the health of children, and reduces congestion and pollution. The perceived danger to children on busy roads on the school journey, especially in the vicinity of a school, can prove to be a barrier to more walking and cycling. This then results in more car journeys and more congestion.

This policy was approved by the county council's cabinet on 24 June 2014, and became effective on 3 July 2014. The policy was updated in November 2022 to reflect changes to the delegated authority for highway decision making.

Main principles, roles and responsibilities

There are a number of different funding sources that are available for highway improvements:

  • A central budget for Road Safety Outside Schools schemes
  • A central budget for Integrated Transport Schemes (ITS). Elected members can nominate one scheme for their division each financial year. These schemes are then prioritised against set criteria for the central funding available for ITS schemes for that financial year.
  • Funding available from development. There are two types of funding available, Section 106 funding which is tied to a particular development and scheme. Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding for which we can bid to the appropriate Borough or District Council
  • Central government funding for Active Travel. This funding is for larger schemes eg lengths of cycle route or pedestrian corridors. However, a scheme identified using the Road Safety Outside Schools policy could be incorporated into a larger scheme

The county council's road safety and highways colleagues will assess the site and develop possible solutions

Road Safety & Sustainable Travel specialists from the county council will lead the process to investigate concerns over road safety outside a school. Police Road Safety specialists and county council Traffic Engineers will be invited to assist. This will result in a report diagnosing the problems, if any are found, and containing options, where possible, to tackle the concerns that were raised.

Schools and parents have a responsibility to provide road safety education and training

Road safety education and training for children is just as important as improving the safety for road users outside schools. Schools and parents have a vital role to play in child pedestrian and cycle training, and encouraging responsible attitudes to using motor vehicles as children grow older.

An assessment of the road safety education provided within a school will always be undertaken alongside an assessment of the road safety situation outside the school gate. The county council provide a range of resources for delivering road safety education and training to children and information about this can be provided. Please contact the Safer Travel Team at roadsafetyoutsideschool@surreycc.gov.uk.

Different problems require different solutions

The type of roads and problems will not be the same outside every school. There may be a mix of different problems such as inconsiderate parking, inappropriate vehicle speeds or difficulties in trying to cross the road.

Therefore, the highway improvements provided outside one school will not necessarily be effective or useful outside another school. It will be important therefore to assess and understand the unique problems outside each individual school before any improvements can be developed and agreed.

School crossing patrols

A School Crossing Patrol is one possible road safety measure that could be considered when investigating safety issues outside schools. The School Crossing Patrol service is overseen by the county council's Safer Travel Team who ensure that school crossing patrols are recruited, trained and appropriately supervised, that adequate records are kept, and that potential sites are risk assessed to ensure that they are appropriate and safe.

The operation of the School Crossing Patrol service is based on the Road Safety GB School Crossing Patrol Guidelines (2012). Recruitment for School Crossing Patrols is challenging and it is not always possible to recruit someone to carry out the role. In these circumstances we will consider whether alternative facilities are warranted and may be feasible.

The Education and Inspection Act 2006 (section 508A) puts a duty on schools to promote sustainable travel to school and School Crossing Patrols are one option that can contribute to this duty. Whilst the county council's Safer Travel Team oversees the service, day to day management and the first line of management lie with the school.

The county council will undertake a review of road safety whenever a School Crossing Patrol employee leaves their employment. This will provide an opportunity to assess what solution would be the most effective to improve road safety before taking a decision on whether to recruit a replacement.

National guidance advises that School Crossing Patrols should not operate where there is a light controlled crossing already in situ as this is a duplication of resources and could cause confusion. Therefore any request for a new patrol at a site that has a light controlled, or zebra crossing, will not be approved.

If a new light controlled or zebra pedestrian crossing is installed (or installed nearby to) where a school crossing patrol is currently operating, then the service will be reviewed and may be relocated or withdrawn after a provisional period of 3 months.

If the outcome of an assessment of road safety outside a school concludes that a School Crossing Patrol is the most appropriate measure at a site, the site will be prioritised as being high, medium or low risk. It is the intention of the council to fund all approved School Crossing Patrol sites at maintained schools and Academy and Free schools, although this is only possible where there is sufficient funding. If there is a shortfall in available funding, priority will be given to high risk sites, over medium and, in turn, low.

If a school leadership disagree with a decision by county council officers in relation to a School Crossing Patrol, then a meeting will be held with the school staff and governing body to explain the reasoning behind the decision. The school staff and governing body can then appeal to the Cabinet Member responsible for road safety if they wish.

Procedure to assess road safety outside a school

Step 1: Request received

Any request for road safety improvements outside a school will be referred to the council's Safer Travel Team. If necessary, the person making the request will be contacted to clarify and understand their concerns.

Step 2: Consultation with local County Councillor and highways colleagues

The Safer Travel colleagues will inform the local County Councillor and local Traffic Engineers of the concerns who will in turn will be able to highlight any issues that have been raised before, and any work that has been completed previously.

Step 3: School travel plan and road safety education assessment

The Safer Travel Team will work with the school's leadership team to carry out an audit of the road safety education and sustainable travel initiatives already provided by the school. They will make recommendations to the school in relation to creating or updating a School Travel Plan using the national Modeshift STARS online portal.

Step 4: Conduct site meeting and produce risk assessment

The Safer Travel Team colleagues will arrange a site meeting with key departments from the county council and Surrey Police. A risk assessment will be carried out for the area immediately outside the school. Other nearby points of concern on the journey to the school may be assessed too if necessary. The assessment will include analysis of collisions, speeds, and can include the views of the school and comments from road users. The existing road conditions, signing and highway infrastructure will also be checked and noted.

Step 5: Assess and report upon options

The Safer Travel Team will present a report to the school and local County Councillor containing the results of the road safety education assessment and a description of any potential highway improvements along with estimated costs. The Surrey Police Road Safety and Traffic Management team will also be consulted.

Any potential highway improvement will be added to the list of future improvements outside schools. In some cases improvements may be possible through improved maintenance of the existing infrastructure, rather than through the implementation of new infrastructure. Sometimes there may be money available from developers as a result of the planning process.

Step 6: Scheme implementation and potential funding opportunities (if the decision is taken to proceed)

There are a number of different funding sources that are available for highway improvements:

  • A central budget for Road Safety Outside Schools schemes
  • A central budget for Integrated Transport Schemes (ITS). Elected members can nominate one scheme for their division each financial year. These schemes are then prioritised against set criteria for the central funding available for ITS schemes for that financial year.
  • Funding available from development. There are two types of funding available, Section 106 funding which is tied to a particular development and scheme. Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding for which we can bid to the appropriate Borough or District Council
  • Central government funding for Active Travel. This funding is for larger schemes eg lengths of cycle route or pedestrian corridors. However, a scheme identified using the Road Safety Outside Schools policy could be incorporated into a larger scheme
  • If funding is obtained for the proposal, then a design will be commissioned for the scheme. The scheme will be constructed by the County Council's highway contractors. A standard road safety audit of the design will also be completed as an integral part of the design process for schemes that involve changes to the highway.

Step 7: Evaluation and monitoring

Following implementation, the Safer Travel Team colleagues will visit the site and will consult with the school and local councillor to check upon the effectiveness of the improvements. A stage three road safety audit involving a site visit by road safety engineers and police will also be undertaken following implementation.

How to get in touch about road safety outside a school

If you have concerns about road safety outside a school, please fill in online assessment request form of road safety outside a school

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