1. What is a School Street?

    School Street is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times. The restriction applies to school traffic and through traffic. The result is a safer, healthier and more pleasant environment for everyone. 

    We have carried out a trial of School Streets at a number of schools as part of our Department for Transport-funded active travel programme. Four of these schools are now in the process of making their School Street scheme permanent. 

    The aim is to create a safe, welcoming, and attractive environment where children, parents and teachers can walk, wheel, cycle, scoot or park and walk to school with lower air pollution and traffic congestion. In particular, it makes the school gates much safer for children – who are more vulnerable road users. 

    School Streets encourage parents and carers to choose active travel modes for the school journey. This is further helped by Living Streets and Active Oxfordshire initiatives – including the Street Tag appWalk to School week and Park and Stride – encouraging parents to complete some of the school journey on foot. 

    2. How does a School Street work?

    During closure times at pick-up and drop-off, roads around the school site will only be open to people walking, cycling, wheeling, or scooting and those in a vehicle with a valid exemption. 

    We have supported a pilot temporary School Streets programme operated at a group of nine local schools since March 2021. A lead steward, assisted by volunteers from the school and the local community, managed and marshalled the road closures by operating temporary barriers and opening them for exempt vehicles. For the six-week trial School Streets schemes - supported by an Experimental Traffic Order (ETRO) - the volunteers for Oxfordshire School Streets schools have been coordinated by local active travel groups: Sustrans, Liveable Streets and Active Oxfordshire. 

    For the four permanent School Streets schemes, Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) will be used to implement the School Streets. They will be enforced using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, which will be operational during the term times of the school year.  

    3. When do School Streets operate?

    School Streets operate Monday to Friday, during term-time only. Specific road closure times will vary depending on each school but will usually incorporate 15 minutes on either side of the usual pick-up and drop-off times. 

    4. Which schools have School Streets?

    Since March 2021, nine primary schools took part in the six-week School Streets trial. These were:

    • Bure Park Primary School – Bicester 
    • East Oxford Primary School – Oxford
    •  Larkrise Primary School – Oxford
    • St Christopher’s CE Primary School – Oxford 
    • St Ebbe’s CE Primary School – Oxford 
    • St Edburg’s CE Primary School – Bicester 
    • St Nicolas CE Primary School – Abingdon 
    • Tower Hill Primary School – Witney 
    • Windmill Primary School – Oxford

    Four of the primary schools have decided to continue with their School Street scheme based on the success of the initial trial. These are: 

    • Larkrise Primary School – Oxford 
    • St Ebbe’s CE Primary School – Oxford 
    • St Nicolas CE Primary School – Abingdon 
    • Windmill Primary School – Oxford 

    For these permanent School Streets schemes, Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) will be used to implement the School Streets. They will be enforced using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, which will be operational during the term times of the school year. 

    5. What will happen with the other schools?

    The remaining schools will continue to be offered support to look at alternative measures for traffic calming, reducing problem parking and improving both air quality and the surroundings outside their school to make it safer and more appealing to walk and cycle.

    6. How can I have my say on the School Streets and ANPR proposals?

    Oxfordshire County Council is holding a six-week public consultation between 13 July and 26 August for each of the four schools to seek the public’s views on the School Streets programme being continued under a TRO. Please see FAQs for further information.

    The results of the consultation for the four schools will be reported at the Cabinet Member Decisions meeting on 8 September 2022. The Cabinet Member for Highways Management will review the report and any recommendations it makes, and then decide whether to make the scheme permanent or discontinue it. 

    7. How do Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras enforce a School Street zone?

    The cameras will check the number plates of all vehicles entering the School Street zone during the School Street operational times, and cross reference them against the Exemptions List. If a vehicle is on the Exemptions List, then the ANPR camera will take no further action. If a vehicle is not on the Exemptions List the video clip will be reviewed by the Parking Team, who may then issue a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) to the registered owner of the vehicle.

    8. Will I be fined if I enter a School Street?

    The order associated with a School Street is a legal order to vehicles that are not exempt and are driven into the School Street zone during its street closure times. Therefore, you could receive a fine if you drive a vehicle that is not exempt through the School Street during its street closure times. An enforcement officer, and/or an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera will be in operation and will take your vehicles registration plate details, and you will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). 

    You will not be fined if you are walking, wheeling, using a mobility scooter, cycling, using a scooter or driving an exempt vehicle in a School Street.  

    Road warning signs will be clearly displayed at the entrance point of each School Street to inform you when you are entering a School Street zone 

    9. What does ‘being exempt’ mean?

    The vehicle’s number plate is on the Exemption List and is permitted to enter the School Street closure zone during the School Street’s operational times and will not be issued a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) for doing so. 

    10. What vehicles will be exempt from access restrictions during School Streets closure times?

    Exempt motorists and vehicles include:  

    • Residents and their regular visitors and carers  

    • Taxis collecting or dropping off a fare  

    • Blue Badge holders  

    • Children on the school SEN register or those with behavioural or mobility issues that the school agrees requires them to be driven to school 

    • School staff and regular school visitors, including school transport vehicles 

    • Council organised home to school transport for students  

    • Emergency services and waste collection vehicles 

    • Vehicles undertaking works (including inspection) in relation to that road, street lighting or street furniture in or adjoining that road; or in relation to a sewer or water main, the supply of gas, electricity, water or communication services in or adjoining that road. 

    Incidents of short-term illness or injury may also be covered at the school’s discretion. Example scenarios include (but are not limited to), a parent needing to pick up a sick child from school, or if a pupil or parent/carer suffers an injury which would make walking even the short distance from the edge of the School Street zone to the school difficult. 

    Since our parking team requires 48 hours' notice to update the system, it is possible a PCN may be issued in the meantime. If so, please refer to question 32 – What if I receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in error? 

    11. What vehicles will NOT be exempt from access restrictions during School Streets closure times?

    Anyone driving a vehicle passing through the School Street closure zone during its operational times (i.e., when the School Street closure applies – times will be shown clearly on road signs ahead of the closure zone) who is not registered for an exemption.  

    This includes delivery drivers and couriers and general service providers (as not exempt) – excepting utilities vehicles and public waste collection vehicles. Please see FAQ 10 for more details.

    12. Who should apply to have vehicles added to the Exemption List?

    The following groups need to apply to be added to the Exemption List unless stated otherwise: 

    • Branded emergency services vehicles are automatically exempt and do not need to apply for exemption separately  

    • Community NHS vehicles 

    • Registered public waste collection vehicles  

    • Licensed taxi-cabs and private hire vehicles (e.g. school coach for a trip)  

    • Utilities/highways service vehicles are automatically exempt and do not need to apply for exemption separately. 

    • Services contracted by Oxfordshire County Council are automatically exempt and do not need to apply for exemption separately. 

    • Services contracted directly by a school in a School Streets zone that cannot attend the site outside of school closure times need to be registered with our exemption list by the school contracting them within 48 hours of attending the site (e.g., plumbers, school maintenance teams). 

    • Addresses registered in the School Streets zone (refer to the relevant School Street scheme's Consultation Plan). Residents and businesses should provide their own vehicle registrations, as well as any regular visitors or carers attending their address to provide or receive care support. These addresses will also receive a letter inviting them to apply for exemption online or in writing. 

    • People providing emergency services who may not be driving a branded emergency services vehicle (e.g., emergency doctor on call or plain-clothes law enforcement). Your healthcare/medical trust or police body should apply to us on your behalf. 

    • Blue Badge holders who need to access the School Streets zone during closure times will need to register with our Exemption List. Please contact our team by emailschoolsactivetravel@oxfordshire.gov.uk

    • NB - Branded emergency services vehicles, utilities/highways service vehicles and services contracted by Oxfordshire County Council are automatically exempt and do not need to apply for exemption separately. 

    13. How can I have my vehicle added to the Exemption List and what does it cost?

    The consultation is ongoing, and the decision whether to implement the ANPR enforced School Street will not be made until 8 September 2022. Details of how to apply will be updated after this date if necessary.

    There is no charge or cost for being added to the Exemption List for School Streets.

    14. How long does it take to be added to the Exemption List?

    It can take up to 48hrs for a vehicle to be added to the Exemption List. If you are issued a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) during this time you can contact us to challenge it by emailing: schoolsactivetravel@oxfordshire.gov.uk  

    15. If I am exempt, will I be given a physical permit?

    No, the Exemption List is digital, and is linked to the registered owner of the vehicle. If you change vehicles, be sure to update your new car details with us. 

    16. I live on a street within the School Streets zone. Will I be able to drive to and from my home?

    Yes. Residents’ vehicles will have their number plates added to the School StreetExemptions List and will then be exempt. Exempt vehicles may come and go freely during the School Streets operational times. 

    To apply to have your vehicle added to the Exemptions List see the details for how to apply for exemption in School Streets on our webpage (these details will be added soon).

    17. I work at one of the School Streets schools. Will I be able to drive to school to get to work?

    Yes. School staff and regular school visitors, including school transport vehicles, are exempt. We are encouraging all school staff who need to drive to the school, to do so outside of the School Streets closure times where possible 

    18. My child is on the SEN register and needs to be driven to school. Will I be exempt?

    Yes. Children with behavioural or mobility issues that the school agrees requires them to be driven to school will be exempt.  

    19. I have carers coming to visit me at my home. Will they get a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)?

    If their vehicle is on the Exemption List, then no. It would be advisable for the carers or their care agency to register the carer’s vehicle to have the vehicle(s) added to the Exemption List. If a carer is issued a PCN in error, they, or their agency, should contact: schoolsactivetravel@oxfordshire.gov.uk. If the carer is issued a PCN in error, please refer to FAQ 24.

    20. Are Blue Badge holders exempt from School Streets motor vehicle restrictions?

    Blue Badge holders are exempt, but you will need to register the Blue Badge vehicle for the exemption list to ensure you are not issued a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in error. If you are issued a PCN in error, please refer to FAQ 24.

    21. What if I have a delivery to make to an address (including a School Streets school, business or residence) within a School Streets closure time?

    Delivery vehicles are not exempt, therefore you are encouraged to schedule deliveries outside of School Streets operational times. The delivery driver, or their company, will be responsible for paying the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) if driving through the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras during these times. 

    22. What if I park my vehicle in the School Street zone before the School Streets’ restrictions start? Will I get a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) if I try to drive out of the School Street?

    No. All vehicles that are already parked within the School Street zone can drive out of the School Street during the School Street’s operation times without receiving a PCN. If the vehicle attempts to re-enter the School Street during operational times it will receive a PCN.  

    23. I was not driving the vehicle at the time it entered the School Street, someone else was. Would I get the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or them?

    The Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) will be issued against the registered owner of the vehicle.

    24. What if I receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in error?

    If you feel you have been issued a PCN in error, please contact us, and explain why you have received the PCN in error. The Parking teams will check your exemption status.   

    25. Will the School Street displace traffic and parking to areas outside the School Street zone?

    Evidence from existing School Streets schemes (external link) suggests that while some school run traffic may be displaced to the areas outside the School Street during its operating times, ‘traffic evaporation’ - i.e., car trips swapped for walking, cycling, scooting and public transport - is also likely to occur, therefore reducing the overall volume of school run traffic.

    The parking team will monitor the parking impacts outside of the School Streets zones to see if there is a negative impact on parking elsewhere. 

    26. What about safety around cycling and scooting at the school gates and School Street areas?

    The trial e-scooters in Oxford have their speed capped at 12mph (equivalent to a very brisk walking pace). 

    We expect cyclists and scooter/trial e-scooter riders to conduct themselves responsibly, travel slowly in the School Street zone and be mindful and considerate of other road users. School gates restrictions will apply as set by the school – usually for cyclists and scooter riders to dismount and walk at the school gates and on school property. 

    27. Is there a risk that pupils might become less conscious of road safety as a result of having less traffic around the school entrance?

    All pupils in Oxfordshire schools are offered the Footsteps Road Safety education resource (external link). Footsteps is designed to help parents and carers to teach their children the skills they will need to become safe independent travellers.

    Year Five/Six pupils in Oxfordshire schools can join free Bikeability cycle training sessions at school to build confidence and improve on-road cycling safety skills. The Bikeability training is operated by Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

    Both footsteps and Bikeability emphasise the need for children to remain aware of their surroundings and alert for potential danger.  

    28. Why is Oxfordshire County Council implementing School Streets?

    School Streets create places where children can thrive, be healthier and happier because they are: 

    • being more active 

    • enjoying improved air quality 

    • getting a boost to confidence from active travel 

    • getting more chances to be sociable.

    Creating a car-free environment makes it easier and safer for children and their families to choose to travel by foot, wheelcycle or scooter to school and leave the car at home. 

    29. What were the results of the initial School Streets Trial?

    Data from the initial School Streets trial (March to July 2021) has been analysed to assess the success of the project. 

    Key indicators, along with some case studies and additional information, can be found in this report: School Streets in Oxfordshire: Creating safer spaces for walking and cycling to school  The trial had the following results: 

    • Active travel to school increased by 6.3 percentage points during School Streets trials. 

    • 64.7% of pupils surveyed said they felt much safer or safer during the trials than before (27% were not sure). 

    • 65.2% of adults surveyed agreed that the road felt safer compared to before the School Streets trial. 

    30. Why are the trial schools now going from temporary schemes to permanent schemes?

    The School Streets schemes have been successful and popular with the four respective school communities who are planning to take the programme forward into the next school year. The four schools have therefore expressed the desire to make the schemes permanent. 

    31. Why are the permanent School Streets schemes going to be enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras?

    Enforcement via ANPR cameras reduces the need for volunteers, which makes them more suitable for permanent schemes. 

    Using the ANPR cameras means the School Street scheme can continue without safety risks to volunteers. We are extremely grateful to the volunteers who have operated the temporary ‘gates’ during the last year at all the schools who took part in the initial School Streets trials. We appreciate that while this has enabled the trials to work really well, it is not sustainable or practical for only volunteers to manage gates consistently on a permanent basis. 

    32. How will road users be told about the School Streets?

    Road warning signs will be installed on the roads near the schools informing road users of the vehicle restrictions in the School Street. We will also write to people in the area and advise them to avoid travelling during the School Street operating times. 

    We are working with the schools to encourage access to the schools outside of their School Street timings, and we are recommending that schools tell their visitors about the road restrictions before planned school meetings and events. 

    33. How will I know if a School Street is proposed in my area?

    We will conduct a public consultation to gather feedback on the School Street being proposed before we implement a permanent School Street. As part of the consultation process, we advertise a School Streets notice in the local newspaper, announce it in a press release, and provide information via our libraries and online Oxfordshire County Council web site.

    We also contact statutory consultees, including - but not limited to: emergency services, county councillors, council highway officers, bus service providers, and other affected schools in the area and local businesses to gather their views and feedback.

    We will contact all residents who live on the proposed School Street, writing to them to inform them about the proposal and invite them to feedback via the consultation and/or by contacting us.  

    We will also work with the school to inform the wider school community including parents and carers about the proposed School Street, as well as ensuring teachers and support staff are aware of the proposed School Street.

    All school staff, parents, carers, and families are also invited to respond to the proposed school street via the consultation and/or by contacting us.  

    34. How can a school request to have a School Street?

    Any additional Oxfordshire schools who wish to have a permanent School Street, are invited to contact us at: schoolsactivetravel@oxfordshire.gov.uk to look at arranging a School Streets trial. This would be consulted on separately to the summer 2022 School Streets consultation. We will also welcome all your views and comments on what has worked with the School Streets programme so far, any points we need to consider and address, and how you feel about our proposals to continue the programme at other schools.

    35. How will the benefits of a School Street be measured?

    The benefits of the School Street will be monitored on an ongoing basis. This will include:

    • The air quality on the street will be regularly monitored to check improved air quality. 
    • The use of active travel methods such as walking and cycling to the school will be monitored for increased use. 
    • Qualitive data from the schools will also be monitored to ensure students are benefitting from the School Street. 
    • Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) enforcement will be monitored via our Parking team.  

    36. How will the four permanent School Streets schemes be monitored and assessed?

    • We will collect information about how pupils travelled to school before the scheme became permanent, and during the scheme to monitor active travel improvements.  
    • We will engage with parents, residents and school staff, who will be surveyed to monitor active travel improvements, i.e., reduced car journeys to and from the school. 
    • We will also assess the proportion of children meeting physical activity guidelines and any impact on their wellbeing. 
    • We will share feedback through annual reviews on how well the school streets have worked – and note the benefits, impacts and any matters for consideration raised.   
    • We will also engage with the wider school community including parents/carers and residents and businesses, and with the school to ensure the School Streets benefits continue.  

    37. What is an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO), and how does it change into a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO)?

    The School Streets trials were set up and operated via Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETRO). ETRO imposes traffic and parking restrictions such as road closures. We use ETROs to see if a traffic or parking restriction scheme will work in practice. An ETRO is made under Sections 9 and 10 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and stays in force for a maximum of 18 months while its effects are monitored and assessed. 

    Once the School Streets ETROs were in force, we welcomed feedback throughout the School Streets ETRO trial process. This was made by: 

    • completing the School Streets ETRO consultation survey online  

    • or writing to the School Streets team by email, or at County Hall 

    • contacting local councillors and asking them to pass feedback to our School Streets team. 

    Any formal objections to the ETRO order needed to be made in the first six months of it coming into force. It is not possible to lodge a formal objection to an ETRO until it is in force.  

    All of this feedback, together with ongoing engagement with the schools and monitoring, contributed to the report on the ETRO School Streets trialOxfordshire County Council worked closely with the schools to decide on whether they wished to make their School Streets permanent.  

    To make a School Streets scheme permanent, Oxfordshire County Council must apply to the Department for Transport to request changing an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO), into a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). A Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is a legal document which allows a local authority to render enforceable traffic or highways measures. They can be used to introduce parking restrictions, speed limits, one-way streets, width and weight restrictions, vehicular access.  TROs are permanent legal documents, and are enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras 

    38. Is a School Street the same as a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN)?

    No. A School Street closure is a restriction on motorised traffic during school drop-off and pick-up times outside a school. 

     A Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) is an area where motor traffic is prevented from taking shortcuts through a residential area. Traffic is restricted either by a bollard, a planter tub, or a camera-enforced restriction. These prevent all motor traffic (including cars, vans, lorries and motorcycles) from driving through. Emergency services, cyclists, pedestrians, wheelchairs, the trial e-scooters and those using mobility scooters will all have free access. More about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods is here. 

    39. Are School Streets and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN) ever integrated?

    On some occasions a School Street closure may be integrated into LTN restrictions, other times it will be a separate closure. This would usually depend upon whether the school is situated within a Low Traffic Neighbourhood 

    The current list of schools taking part in the programme does not include any schools in an LTN area, although Larkrise Primary School does sit between the St Mary’s area (east Oxford) and the Florence Park (Cowley) experimental LTNs, with its catchment area partly including both of these LTNs. 

    If you have any further queries regarding School Streets, please contact the team at: schoolsactivetravel@oxfordshire.gov.uk 

    40. Is the School Streets scheme legal?

    Yes. Local authorities can implement temporary 18-month Emergency Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs) and permanent Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) to control traffic in an area.  

    The Department for Travel has devolved powers to a number of Local Authorities to use ANPR cameras to enforce permanent School Streets.