Travel: How independent is independent enough?

One of the biggest challenges we face in Special Education is ensuring that the progress we enable our pupils to make is transferable beyond the school, that they are enabled to have rich and fulfilling lives within which they are active members of the communities in which they live. One area in particular which causes significant challenges is that of independent travel, letting children make their own way without the direct supervision of staff. The risks are significant, but so are the rewards and it is our job to work in partnership with the students and their families to make this a reality for as many of the children we teach as possible. But how do we judge who is in a position to make that step towards a greater degree of independence and how do we put in place the right level of support to ensure we find that difficult balance between enough freedom, but enough security. Below is a simple chart which we use to help us make that judgement and arrive at the right level of guidance for the individual child and the individual journey.



By using this method to evaluate the level of guidance, the complexity of the journey and how the pupil’s progress and safety will be monitored, we are able to take a developmentally progressive approach to increasing the degree of independence that our pupils have without placing them at risk. If you follow the link below, you can see a short film which demonstrates the success of this approach as one of our students talks through their experiences whilst demonstrating excellent independent travel skills.

Independent Travel Film


2 thoughts on “Travel: How independent is independent enough?

  1. Thanks for posting this model, Simon. Great video too. I work in a 3-16 special school and work on life skills with students in key stage 4. We have had some success with teaching independent travel, but hadn’t thought of using phones to “track” and support students. I will be sharing this with colleagues at school to see how we can incorporate some of your ideas into what we do.
    Thanks again and best wishes to you and your students.

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