SCHOOLS across Worcestershire are being encouraged to launch walking bus services.

Walking buses provide a safe option for children to get to school safely while reducing congestion.

The idea is that children walk together with teachers and volunteer parents, wearing high visibility jackets from a meeting place to a school.

Astwood Bank First School in Redditch launched its walking bus in November 2014 to help reduce traffic around the school in the mornings.

The 'bus' was set up at the school with the assistance of the road safety team from Worcestershire County Council.

It was launched as part of National Road Safety Week, and starts from Astwood Smiles Nursery car park where parents have been given permission to park their vehicles.

This means that the parents do not have to park near to the school.

At the time a spokesman from the school said that the walking bus attracted a lot of interest from parents and the children enjoyed the short walk to school.

"We are hoping it will grow and grow," they said.

Councillor Liz Eyre, the county council's cabinet member for children and families, said: "The walking bus scheme is an innovative road safety scheme that helps alleviate traffic around schools as well as giving vital safety training to children."

Speaking recently, Sam Yates, a teaching assistant at the school who runs it, said: “Though the aim of the walking bus was to reduce congestion around the school, it also gives the children the chance to have a little bit of exercise in the mornings by walking to school in a controlled and safe environment.

“Children are encouraged to learn about pedestrian safety on the journey to school including how to cross a road safely and walk in single file along narrow footpaths.”

The council's road safety team visits schools across the county to spread messages to pupils and staff.

Staff give talks and training on a variety of initiatives, including pedestrian and cycle training (Bikeability).

Schools interested in launching a walking bus should contact or 01905 763763.