Travel to school

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Last updated 1 March 2018 - see all updates

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1. Main facts and figures

  • overall, the average one-way trip time to school was 19 minutes

  • walking was the most common form of transport for all ethnic groups

  • on average, White and Asian children had the shortest trip time in the period from 2011 to 2015, but White children had the longest distance to travel to school

  • White and Asian children were more likely to travel to school by car compared with other ethnic groups

  • Black children and those from the Other ethnic group were more likely to travel to school by local bus compared with other ethnic groups

Things you need to know

The National Travel Survey has been run in the same way from 2002/06 to 2011/15. This means there is a high level of consistency in the data.

To increase the reliability of the data, the information is collected over a series of overlapping 5-year periods. The average for each 5-year period is then calculated.

This type of survey methodology increases the reliability of the data. However, tests for significant differences between ethnic groups have not been carried out. Commentary has been supplied for those findings where there are relatively large differences between ethnic groups or modes of transport.

The data is based on trips to and from school by children aged 5 to 16 years and living in England. The data includes trips to and from schools in Wales and Scotland.

Each trip is counted separately.

The data doesn’t include trips over 50 miles.

The data for ‘All ethnic groups’ includes people who did not give their ethnicity.

What the data measures

The data looks at how children (aged 5 to 16 years) get to or from school. It includes their:

  • average one-way trip distance in miles
  • average one-way trip time in minutes
  • mode of transport

The data is broken down by ethnicity.

The ethnic categories used in this data

For this data, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following 5 broad groups:

  • Asian/Asian British
  • Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
  • Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
  • White
  • Other ethnic group

2. Average trip distance to school by ethnicity over time

Average trip distance in miles to or from school for children aged 5 to 16 years, by ethnicity over time
Time All ethnic groups Asian Black Mixed White Other
Miles Miles Miles Miles Miles Miles
2002/06 2.4 2.0 2.5 2.0 2.4 2.3
2003/07 2.4 1.9 2.5 2.0 2.4 2.3
2004/08 2.4 1.9 2.5 2.0 2.4 2.5
2005/09 2.4 1.8 2.6 2.0 2.5 1.9
2006/10 2.4 1.8 2.4 2.0 2.5 2.4
2007/11 2.5 1.9 2.4 1.9 2.5 2.8
2008/12 2.5 2.0 2.4 1.8 2.6 2.7
2009/13 2.5 2.0 2.5 2.0 2.6 2.6
2010/14 2.6 2.1 2.4 2.0 2.7 2.6
2011/15 2.6 2.1 2.3 2.1 2.6 2.3

Download table data for ‘Average trip distance to school by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Average trip distance to school by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel to school Average trip distance to school by ethnicity over time Summary

This data shows that:

  • in the period from 2011 to 2015, the average distance to school was 2.6 miles – an increase of 0.2 miles compared to 2002/06

  • White children had the longest trip to school in the same period (at 2.6 miles), and Asian and Mixed children had the shortest (2.1 miles)

  • between 2002/06 and 2011/15, the average trip distance increased for White children (from 2.4 to 2.6 miles) and decreased for Black children (from 2.5 to 2.3 miles), and it was relatively stable for all other ethnic groups

3. Average trip duration to school by ethnicity over time

Average trip time in minutes to or from school for children aged 5 to 16 years, by ethnicity over time
Time All ethnic groups Asian Black Mixed White Other
Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes
2002/06 19 18 27 21 18 22
2003/07 19 18 26 21 18 22
2004/08 19 17 26 20 19 22
2005/09 19 17 27 20 19 20
2006/10 19 18 26 20 19 21
2007/11 19 18 25 20 19 24
2008/12 19 18 25 21 19 23
2009/13 19 18 26 22 19 23
2010/14 19 19 25 22 19 22
2011/15 19 19 24 22 19 23

Download table data for ‘Average trip duration to school by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Average trip duration to school by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel to school Average trip duration to school by ethnicity over time Summary

This data shows that:

  • in every period between 2002/06 and 2011/15, the average time spent travelling to or from school was 19 minutes per child

  • in the most recent period (2011/15), White and Asian children had the shortest trip time (at 19 minutes), and Black children had the longest (at 24 minutes)

  • between 2002/06 and 2011/15, the average trip time for Black children decreased from 27 to 24 minutes – it was relatively stable for all other ethnic groups

4. Type of transport used to get to school by ethnicity over time

Percentage of trips to or from school for children aged 5 to 16 years, by ethnicity and type of transport over time
All ethnic groups Asian Black Mixed White Other
Type of transport All ethnic groups % 2002/06 All ethnic groups % 20011/15 Asian % 2002/06 Asian % 20011/15 Black % 2002/06 Black % 20011/15 Mixed % 2002/06 Mixed % 20011/15 White % 2002/06 White % 20011/15 Other % 2002/06 Other % 20011/15
Bicycle 2 2 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 2 2 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Car / Van 32 35 34 37 19 21 31 29 33 36 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Local bus 13 14 13 15 32 31 18 20 12 12 withheld to protect confidentiality 33
Other 1 2 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 1 2 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Private bus 5 4 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 5 5 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Surface Rail 1 1 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality 1 1 withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Walk 45 42 47 42 42 41 45 44 45 42 49 38

Download table data for ‘Type of transport used to get to school by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Type of transport used to get to school by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Travel to school Type of transport used to get to school by ethnicity over time Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2011/15, an average of 42% of children walked to school – this was a decrease of 3 percentage points from 2002/6, but it was still the most common way to get to or from school

  • after walking, the most common means of travel to or from school for White and Asian children was the car (at 36% and 37% respectively)

  • after walking, the most common means of travel to or from school for Black children and those from the Other ethnic group was the local bus (at 31% and 33% respectively)

5. Methodology

The denominator in the data is the weighted total number of trips by children aged 5 to 16 years for each ethnic group. The numerators are the weighted total length of travel, in miles or minutes, or the weighted total number of trips by children aged 5 to 16 years for each ethnic group.

The NTS data collection consists of a face-to-face interview and a 7-day self-completed written travel diary, allowing travel patterns to be linked with individual characteristics. The NTS covers travel by people in all age groups, including children.

In 2013, the survey coverage changed from sampling residents of England, Wales and Scotland, to residents of England only. Approximately 16,000 individuals, in 7,000 households in England, participate in the NTS each year.

Weighting:

Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which has an even 50/50 split.

Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.

Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.

Responses to the NTS are weighted to take account of different population demographics, but are not grossed to England totals.

Statistics from the NTS were assessed during 2010 by the UK Statistics Authority. An assessment report (PDF opens in a new window or tab) was published in October 2010. The statistics were confirmed as National Statistics in July 2011.

There are differences in travel between primary and secondary school children that aren’t analysed here. You can read more in the National Travel Survey publications.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Values of fewer than 100 people or 300 trips (before weighting is applied) have been suppressed. ‘Suppression’ means the figures have not been included in the data, because the numbers involved are too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.

For example, in the latest 5-year period, there were only around 700 and 900 individuals in the 'Mixed' and 'Other' ethnic groups respectively, so the data does not support further detailed breakdowns as these estimates would be unreliable.

Where the size of the ethnic group population is small enough that an individual’s identity could be revealed, some other figures have also been excluded.

Rounding

Figures are rounded to the nearest whole percentage. The percentages calculated in the tables are based on unrounded figures.

Related publications

Previous National Travel Survey reports are available.

Quality and methodology information

6. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Transport

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The National Travel Survey (NTS) is a household survey designed to monitor long-term trends in personal travel and to inform the development of policy.

It is the primary source of data on personal travel patterns within England, Scotland and Wales by residents of England.

The survey collects information on how, why, when and where people travel as well as factors affecting travel (for example, car availability and whether people hold driving licences).

7. Download the data

Travel time to school - Spreadsheet (csv) 11 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, numerator, denominator, unweighted sample

Mode of travel to school - Spreadsheet (csv) 91 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value

Distance travelled to school - Spreadsheet (csv) 13 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, numerator, denominator, unweighted sample