Travel to school

The main facts and figures show that:

  • overall, in the period from 2013 to 2017, the average trip time to school was 19 minutes (one way)
  • 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 2013 to 2017, 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 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 2013/17. This means there is a high level of consistency in the data.

To increase the reliability of the data, the Department for Transport combines data for each year into a 5-year average. This process continues over a series of overlapping 5-year periods.

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.

The number of children aged 5-16 for each ethnic group in the 2013/17 period (before weighting was applied) was:

  • Asian: 1,112
  • Black: 576
  • Mixed: 388
  • White: 9,469
  • Other: 180

There have been some revisions to the National Travel Survey source data, so these figures will not match previously published figures. Therefore, changes cannot be identified by comparing previously published figures with these published figures.

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 data comes from the Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey.

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

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

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 Asian Black Mixed White Other
Miles Miles Miles Miles Miles Miles
2002/06 2.3 1.9 2.4 1.9 2.4 2.2
2003/07 2.3 1.8 2.4 2.0 2.3 2.2
2004/08 2.3 1.8 2.4 2.0 2.4 2.4
2005/09 2.3 1.7 2.5 1.9 2.4 1.9
2006/10 2.4 1.8 2.4 1.9 2.4 2.3
2007/11 2.4 1.8 2.3 1.8 2.4 2.8
2008/12 2.4 1.9 2.3 1.8 2.5 2.7
2009/13 2.5 1.9 2.4 2.0 2.5 2.6
2010/14 2.5 2.0 2.3 1.9 2.6 2.6
2011/15 2.5 2.0 2.2 2.1 2.6 2.2
2012/16 2.4 2.0 2.3 2.0 2.5 2.1
2013/17 2.4 1.9 2.2 2.2 2.5 2.1

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in the period from 2013 to 2017, the average distance to school for children aged 5 to 16 years was 2.4 miles
  • in the same period, White children had the longest trip to school (at 2.5 miles), and Asian children had the shortest (at 1.9 miles)

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 Asian Black Mixed White Other
Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes
2002/06 18 18 26 21 18 22
2003/07 18 17 25 21 18 22
2004/08 19 17 25 20 18 22
2005/09 19 17 26 19 19 19
2006/10 19 17 25 20 19 21
2007/11 19 18 24 20 19 23
2008/12 19 18 25 20 19 23
2009/13 19 18 25 21 19 23
2010/14 19 18 24 21 19 22
2011/15 19 18 24 21 19 23
2012/16 19 18 23 21 19 21
2013/17 19 18 23 21 19 20

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in every period between 2002/06 and 2013/17, the average time spent travelling to or from school was between 18 and 19 minutes
  • in the period between 2013 and 2017, Asian and White children had the shortest trip time (at 18 minutes and 19 minutes respectively, on average), and Black children had the longest (at 23 minutes)
  • between 2002/06 and 2013/17, the average trip time for Black children decreased from 26 to 23 minutes – it was fairly stable for all other ethnic groups

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 Asian Black Mixed White Other
Main_Mode_of_Transport % 2002/06 % 2013/17 % 2002/06 % 2013/17 % 2002/06 % 2013/17 % 2002/06 % 2013/17 % 2002/06 % 2013/17 % 2002/06 % 2013/17
Bicycle 2 2 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 2 2 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Car / Van 31 34 33 36 19 22 29 26 32 35 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 29
Local bus 13 13 12 13 31 27 17 17 12 12 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 26
Other 1 2 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 1 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Private bus 5 4 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 5 4 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Surface Rail 1 1 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 1 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Walk 48 44 49 45 45 44 47 50 48 44 51 40

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in the period from 2013 to 2017, an average of 44% of children walked to school – this was a decrease of 4 percentage points since 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 by car (at 35% and 36% respectively)
  • after walking, the most common means of travel to or from school for Black children was by bus (at 27%)

Methodology

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. They are also weighted to take into account people who didn’t respond or didn’t complete their travel diary in full.

Statistics from the NTS were assessed during 2010 by the UK Statistics Authority. An assessment report was published in October 2010. The statistics were confirmed as National Statistics in July 2011.

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

Further technical information

National Travel Survey 2017: notes and definitions (PDF)

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).

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