Getting to School in the U.K.

Fiona, a physics teacher from the U.K. who just recently returned home after teaching in North Carolina, commented on last week’s post about how kids get to school. Fiona left a note on Facebook, so she agreed to let me post her response here.

Fiona :: In the U.K. kids get a license for a scooter at 16 but for a car they have to wait until 18. Although on the increase, it is still rare that a student will drive themselves to school.

Most schools simply do not have the parking space to allow it as much as anything else.

Our schools also tend to be smaller and in community locations and by far the majority of students will walk to school.

There has been a rise in the number of parents driving kids to school, particularly at elementary, but in general walking is still very much the norm.

I think at elementary level you would not find kids using a bus except perhaps in some rural areas – the schools are usually very close to where people live.

At secondary level, the general rule is that you get free busses if you live more than 3 miles away from the school.

My son is about to start secondary and lives in a small village. His secondary school is about 1.8 miles away so no bus for him.

He does get subsidised fares on the normal public bus but he will only be using that on some days. Most days he will be walking, with the option to get the bus if he is staying behind after classes and can’t walk home with friends.

If he is REALLY lucky he might get a ride in with his dad on some days as his dad has to drive past the school to get to his work.

I think my son is fairly typical for most kids in the U.K. But it does depend on area.

Me :: You said that the secondary school kids who live more then 3 miles from school get free busses, so does that mean a school bus picks them up? Or do they get money to ride a regular bus that happens to go near the school?

Fiona :: As for the bus, it kind of depends on the area.

Where I grew up the school provided dedicated busses. But unlike in the U.S., where they drop you off right at your door, you would have a designated stop for everyone on your road.

Having said that even in rural areas it is generally safer for kids to walk as just about everywhere has a sidewalk.

Other schools give kids a bus pass to use on regular local bus services. Usually it depends on what the regular services are like for that given area – the more rural you are the more likely you are to have dedicated busses.

Thanks, Fiona!


About the Author: Cate Brubaker

Dr. Cate Brubaker is a re-entry/repatriation coach, consultant, and author of the Re-Entry Roadmap creative workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 36 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.

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