Safe Routes engages young people through an arts based approach explore both the rational and emotional response to the journey to and from school, particularly at the time of transition from primary to secondary school. This project was planned and supported by members of the School Travel team at Somerset County Council, SAW (Somerset Art Works) Ltd and SPAEDA.

‘Encouraging sustainable and safe ways to travel to school through visual arts’

The School Travel Plan Team at Somerset County Council works with schools across the County to examine how people travel to and from school with a view to encouraging less car use and more walking and cycling for shorter journeys and more school bus use and car sharing for longer journeys. Walking and cycling are encouraged because they improve health and fitness and individual car journeys discouraged because they cause congestion and emit carbon dioxide, one of the principal causes of human induced climate change. At present children who travel to and from school by car, in Somerset alone, clock up more than 10 million miles a year!

The School Travel Plan Team aims to educate children about the benefits of more sustainable travel and to assist schools in decreasing the amount of car use on the school run. SAW and SPAEDA looked to encourage creative learning in schools via visual arts activities. The three partners came together to develop a project that would provide the young people involved with an opportunity to appreciate their environment and to engage with it safely, actively and creatively.

Sketch and wire

The project aims are:

  • Through an arts based approach explore both the rational and emotional response to the journey to and from school, particularly at the time of transition from primary to secondary school.
  • To draw out and record young people’s responses to travel and through this gain a greater understanding of their needs.

Safe Routes 2010

Summer 2010 Somerset Art Works worked with Taunton Academy to run a Safe Routes Summer School called ‘Taunton Journeys’. The Project worked with young people who were due to start at the school in September and existing pupils from years 8 and 9.  Lead Artist Julie Roberts had this to say about the project “I feel that this experience benefited this group immensely, moving from primary to secondary is daunting experience and this settled them in gently, introduced them to their surroundings and made friends in their year.”


The week long project focused on the group’s journeys, allowing participants to explore different ways to document and create work around their journeys to school. They worked with Julie creating models of their fantasy transport, looking at ideas of their dream school, as well as gaining skills in printmaking. At the end of the project ,Amy, one of the participants said “I have enjoyed this week, because I have made new friends. I had great fun making models and using modroc, then painting over it. I have had fun making the journey journals. It has been great fun making rubbings and printing.”


The work generated could seen in an exhibition at the County Hall in Taunton, Block A during October 2010.

If you would like to find out more please visit the project blog

Safe Routes 2008-09

During Autumn 2008 Safe routes project ran in Highbridge and Burnham on Sea with St Johns Primary and St Alfreds Secondary Schools. Instead of working with one group across the transition from primary to secondary school the work was focussed on two separate groups with a view to bringing them together at the end.

A partnership with The Children and Young Peoples Partnership (CHYPPS) and the local community police support officer gave the project a new emphasis on the issues of bullying, friendship and peer group support. A social impact study undertaken on this project by Annabel Jackson Associates and can be down load below.

Funding was secured from Somerset County Council to deliver a pilot project with older people in the community as a way to raise awareness of the possible anxieties and concerns affecting their personal safety, in relate to the journeys  taken by young people in the local area.

The Children and Young Peoples Partnership (CHYPPS) also worked with SAW to support the delivery of this project. The project took place at the Active Living Centre in Burnham on Sea, Sedgemoor September 2009. Artwork from the project was shown at Sea Breeze Gallery Burnham on Sea during Somerset Art Weeks 2009.

Safe Routes 2006

A lead artist worked with children at three feeder primary schools during the summer term of 2006. The same children continued the project following their transition to St Dunstans secondary school in Glastonbury. Here they worked over six days during the autumn term with added support from a placement artist.

Lead Artist: Alison Cockcroft

Alison produces highly individual metal sculptures and collages from her studio in Stroud. She exhibits her work widely as well as working on educational projects, residencies and commissions for public spaces. In education she has worked with all age groups. She has been involved in several high profile projects across different counties and also works regularly in schools and community projects in her local area. She was drawn to this project because of her strong interest and commitment to environmental issues and her love of the landscape and walking.

Placement Artist: Julie Starks

Julie makes artwork that reflects her fascination with ecosystems, sustainability and the fractal nature of our world. She produces work for exhibition, to commission and with community groups, using recycled and reclaimed materials and photography. As an environmental artist her community work involves engaging people with their local environment, generating discussion and making that learning visible. Coming from a non-driving family and being a non-driver herself and keen cyclist, Julie applied for the placement artist as it addresses her emotional and environmental concerns and provided her with professional development with the lead artist.

“The children have been excited and engaged at every stage of the project, as have I. Creative research is a fantastic way to learn.” – 
Julie Starks, Placement Artist

camera man

The Project

This is a summary of the project carried out by Alison and Julie. The activities listed may act as a guide for others wishing to tackle the subject of sustainable journeys in a creative way.

The aim was to collect information from the children about their current journeys, their understanding of travel issues and their expectations of the changes they might experience.

The challenge was to record their thoughts in a visual way and to make the whole process fun. Two half-day visits were made to each school.

Where the *appears extra information and resources can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.

“This project has been a unique experience for the children. It’s been a richer and deeper exploration of a subject” – Jane Hawkins, Head of Art, St.Dunstans

Primary Phase 

The children from the three primary schools undertook the following Activities:

  • Filling in a questionnaire *about their school journey. This aimed to highlight personal experiences as well as factual information
  • Discussion about the issues relating to different forms of travel and sustainability
  • Good and bad points about different forms of transport expressed as collages, using drawings, words and images from newspapers
  • A journey diary kept over the course of a week, recording observations along the route to school *
  • Collages made that represented things seen and heard along the route and also including thoughts, feelings and conversations

“I’ve definitely noticed more things on my journey. I enjoy walking and feel more awake when I get to school.” – Pupil, Butleigh Primary School

Secondary Phase

The aim was to develop work from the information collected at the primary phase and to look at the changes to the children’s’ journeys. The children from the three primary schools were brought together to share experiences and work as one group.


  • Finding out about each other through games and mini interviews *
  • Using the collages made at primary schools to explain their journey to others
  • Discussion of how journeys have changed in transition between primary and secondary
  • Wire and metal sculptures constructed showing routes from the villages leading to St Dunstans
  • Plans drawn for figure sculptures that express ideas about travel issues
  • Construction of life-sized sculptures of figures, some made in cardboard, some in willow. Details added to communicate the particular ideas of each group
  • Placement and photographic recording of sculptures in the outdoor environment interacting with cars, crossings, road signs, buses etc.
  • Development of particular images into a poster using Photoshop
  • Video recordings of presentations from each group explaining their ideas and what they have gained from the project. *Download a PDF of the worksheets at the bottom of this page

School Journey Diary* / Sharing Journeys* / Safe Routes Questions*


This project has been a great example of how art projects can engage children with important issues and enable them to express their point of view. It has been a broad project touching on many strands of the school curriculum as well as being a valuable art experience. It reinforces the value of schools forming partnerships with other agencies and involving professional artists in extended projects.
– Alison Cockcroft, Lead Artist

The Partners

Somerset County Council School Travel Plan Team
School communities, in particular pupils, parents and teachers, are encouraged to investigate and discuss the ways they travel to and from school. The School Travel Plan Team provide advice and suggestions along with maps showing how pupils travel, survey forms and mode of travel data. The whole process is recorded in a document called the School Travel Plan, which concludes with measures to encourage more walking and cycling, school bus use and car sharing. Grants are available for the schools that complete School Travel Plans.