New Scheme To Reward Children For Walking To School

3 January 2011

Walking to school

I've never made a secret of the fact that politics is way beyond me. Maybe I'm too trusting, too naïve or just plain not smart enough, but I can never remember who promised what, to whom and who actually delivered on it or not.

But I have been paying attention, lately, as services have been cut, and these might affect us. Our Friday morning Bookstart sessions, for example, are among our favourite activities. It's a morning out with other children and activities that doesn't cost me anything – in comparison to every other group we attend where there's always a fee. Losing Bookstart would be unfortunate for us, and isolating for so many of the other mums and toddlers who attend.

Losing the 'Health in Pregnancy' grant is a great loss too. Last pregnancy, that £190.00 paid for my antenatal classes. I'm confident it would have come in handy should we have another child any time soon.

Not to mention the Child Trust fund. I remember thinking how pithy that £250.00 was against the almost £600.00 a Norwegian friend receives for every child, but in the face of losing it for a future child, I find myself wondering how we'll be able to put that much money away so that both children have the same.

The list goes on, and I'm sure I'm not the only one disappointed with these losses. No, we're not entitled to it, but it was rather nice knowing I was getting a little something back after years of paying into the tax system.

In light of all this, I find the latest brainwave rather irritating. Reported by the Daily Mail in a tag-on story, ministers “gave their blessing to schemes that reward pupils with Topshop vouchers and free cinema tickets” for walking to school.

The report, unveiled by Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin and compiled by the government’s Behavioural Insight Team reportedly endorses a scheme in which teenagers receive a £5 Topshop voucher if they walk to school eight times and a cinema ticket for five trips.

To make it work, every school in the country will be offered access to technology that would allow children to use swipe cards to track their journeys. These journeys would garner points which can be exchanged for commercial purchases.

I'm with Emma Boon of the TaxPayer's Alliance, who said: ‘It’s worrying that the Government is thinking of spending taxpayers’ money on these sorts of schemes at a time when there is such huge pressure on public finances. We shouldn’t have to bribe children into walking to school.'

Honestly, is this where our money should be spent? What do you think of this idea?


No Mad Drivers - Caro's Lines @ Flickr
Children Walking to School - Dey @ Flickr
School Zone Road Traffic Sign - Ian Britton @

TOPICS:   News and Recalls


  • Lynley O.
    Why bring in this on the one hand, while they do away with the £30 a week to encourage teenagers to stay in education/training? Surely the latter makes more sense in the long term. I know of several of my step son's friends, and my step son included, for whom that £30 was just enough to cover incidentals and enable them to do a college course or their A levels. If the government is going to give my tax money to teens I'd rather it was in the hope that one day they became contributing members of society.
  • chris
    Kids will get their parents to drop them off near school then go to school get their card swiped and get their free tickets, sounds too good to be true :)
  • Jo
    How would a scheme like this be fair to ALL teenagers. My daughter and soon son, have to catch a bus for the 6 mile journey to school!! It seems like another hair brained idea by the government. Why is it only aimed at teenagers too? What about primary school children? Currently i would say 70% of the children attending my sons primary school are driven to school and they all live within walking distance (closer than myself). Its a 10 minute walk tops! And the government are supposed to be concerned about obesity in children?
  • SlayerKat
    As someone who lives opposite their school I do find these walk to school schemes mildy amusing. My kids primary school are doing one all year round where they get a badge at the end of each month. However some kids think my kids are 'cheating' because they always are guaranteed a badge but it's not my kids fault that they live next to the school lol This proposed voucher scheme is laughable, not even so much because it's open to abuse.

What do you think?

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