For the STHC spatial analysis we take 2 datasets supplied by a client local authority - an extract of their official annual School Census, and a School Gazetteer file containing school-level census information as well as accurate location data (Ordnance Survey national grid coordinates). We then spatially analyse them in conjunction with various standard, Ordnance Survey spatial datasets at our disposal using Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Results are greatly enhanced if Pupil Usual Mode of Travel data is also made available to us but much useful, business critical analysis can still be undertaken in its absence (mode of travel for all pupils is simply recorded as "Unknown")!

We calculate the straight-line ("as the crow flies") distance between the centre of a pupils home postcode and the school they actually attend ("Pupil Home - 'Actual' School Distance" or just "'Actual' Distance" for short). This represents the length of a single pupil journey from either home to school or back again, by the mode of travel recorded in the school census. We also determine the nearest school that a pupil could attend given their national curriculum year (NCY), and measure the distance to that too ("Pupil Home - 'Nearest' School Distance" or just "'Nearest Distance").

Once we know where all the pupils are coming from, how far and by what means they are travelling and where they are travelling to, we can calculate:-

  • the total distance travelled to school and back by all pupils on a daily, weekly and annual basis for all recorded modes
  • the average distance travelled by particular modes
  • the distance within which the "majority" of pupils live from their school (rather than simply being "more than half", traffic and transport engineers strictly define the "majority" as the 85th percentile ie. the distance within which 85% of the pupils travel traffic and transport engineers strictly define this as the 85th percentile)
  • the number of pupils that live within a realistic walking distance of their school (800m (0.5 miles) for primary, 2km (1.2 miles) for secondary)....
  • well as the number of those pupils who nonetheless still travel to school by car rather than walk or cycle
  • the minimum possible total travel distances given the current geographic distribution of the pupil population and the schools that serve them.
  • an overall travel carbon footprint for all pupil journeys to school by vehicular modes of travel, and the number of calories burned through walking and cycling journeys.

What's more ...

  • if you can calculate these for one school day then you can calculate them for a school week (5 days) and a school year (190 days).
  • if you repeat the analysis in exactly the same way for every pupil, in every school in every client authority, then you can directly compare “apples with apples”.
  • if you repeat the analysis in exactly the same way every year, then you can see if there is any change over time (as well of course actually visualising and quantifying the change).