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Growing number of schools taking part in our Travel Training pilot

Date: 28 May

Travel Training: A positive journey

Over the past couple of months, we have been leading an innovative project to inspire independence. Travel Training, which has seen twenty-one students from three Cornish secondary schools – who have never set foot on a bus by themselves – travel to multiple destinations and arrive with the words: “I’m confident I can do that again. I loved it!”

Travel Training, a partnership project between the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Careers Hub, Cornwall Council’s Transport Coordination Service (TCS) and Transport for Cornwall, is a training program designed to help individuals with disabilities and/or additional support needs learn how to use public transportation. It seeks to open the accessibility of public transport, to inspire independence and mobility and to encourage young people to take those steps with skills, knowledge and confidence to travel safely. By combining travel training with guided tours of college campuses and workplaces, pupils were exposed to a variety of career possibilities, broadening their career horizons.

In simple terms, the project teaches young people the essential skills needed and shares information on how to handle challenges they may face along the way.

Frankie Rigolli is an Enterprise Coordinator at Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Careers Hub. He explained how the program came about, calling it ‘a unique opportunity to have a real impact on an individual level.’

“The whole idea was born from a few worrying statistics,” he said. “Schools were telling us that many of their students were picking their post-16 options based not so much their interests and aspirations, but on location.”

It’s understood that this path is typical for a lot of vulnerable students. After all, transport can be a barrier for those with additional needs, so why not pick the easier option? “These decisions cause some issues and may affect future career options,” Frankie continued, “largely because the destination may not be right – it’s just closer to home.”

It’s a complex issue that can’t be solved overnight, Frankie admits. “But we didn’t want to ignore it. We have the capacity to test out some great ideas through early intervention.”

The project aims to show vulnerable students how they can use public transport and that these skills will literally open more pathways for them. And to say the pilot study has been a success is an understatement; it has left the students who took part feeling empowered and inspired, creating some learning opportunities that we didn’t even anticipate.

“The benefits are huge,” Frankie added. “Suddenly you have independence. These children are confident to visit family and friends under their own steam, explore job opportunities, gain life experiences.”

“These skills will ultimately transfer into later life and could open doors they never thought existed. This project is about drip feeding and exposing these experiences at an early age.”

 

The anxiety that comes with travelling on public transport can start early in life, as young people are often told of the things that could go wrong. Maybe the bus doesn’t arrive, or there could be dangers or unforeseen emergencies.

 

“It’s about preparing for these eventualities and teaching students how to cope,” Frankie explained. “If the bus doesn’t turn up, then there’s a Plan B. And you can check for delays and alternatives thanks to the travel apps you have downloaded on your phone. They also realised how the service works by observing a dedicated person in the control room answering phone calls and assisting drivers to identify alternative routes or request a replacement bus if their vehicle breaks down. The experience helped build trust in the service. They learn how to identify people who are safe to approach and how to plan for calling people to update them on their whereabouts, such as parents, college staff or, eventually, employers.

The Travel Training pilot is a partnership between parties who are all invested and passionate about supporting young people in Cornwall to thrive independently.

Firstly, Transport for Cornwall. TFC is the public transport network managed through Cornwall Council’s Transport Coordination Service who have a vested interest in seeing an increase in the use of public transport and the positive effects this would have environmentally. They also believe in the power of public transport.

“We contacted our colleagues in the Transport team and they were really supportive,” Frankie said.

“We have been endlessly supported by our fantastic colleagues at Transport for Cornwall, who offered free travel during the programme. We worked with Go Cornwall Bus who agreed to welcome the small groups to their offices in Truro, answering questions and talking about their jobs. During one of the visits, we also met Charlie, an inspiring young man with a huge passion for buses, who explained about his role and personal career journey. Listening to Charlie’s story and hearing how he tapped into his passion to secure a career he loves really inspired the kids.”

Daniel Baker is the Transport Co-ordination & Eligibility Manager for Transport Coordination Service. He explained why his team decided to support the initiative.

“Cornwall Council has a commitment to improve outcomes for young people and empowerment to gain the skills and confidence needed to travel independently is a key aspect of that. So when the opportunity arose to work with the Careers Hub on launching this pilot training programme, I was delighted to be involved. It has been a pleasure to support the initial trial and to see first-hand the positive impact it has had on the young people who have taken part.”

Looking back at the past few months, Daniel added: “The feedback received from the young people involved has served to underline just how important this training is and why we must roll this out further so that others can benefit. The programme has also shown the clear benefits of enabling schools to support with the delivery of the training. Moving forward, the Council is committed to building on the successes already seen within the initial pilot and we look forward to working alongside the Careers Hub and more schools during the coming academic year.”

 

Below you can read the feedback received from some of the students involved:

 

“”I’ve enjoyed the trips and going places you don’t normally see as well as learning about all the different job roles.”

“I’ve learnt from this program how to communicate on buses and the different locations I can look for jobs.”

“This has helped me to learn how to locate buses and travel around Cornwall confidently.”

“I feel more confident asking drivers for a ticket and have learnt how to read a timetable.”

“I am now confidently using public transport to get in and out of school thanks to this Travel training.”

“Overall, this has been a really good experience. I have gone to new places and feel confident travelling on the buses.”

“Seeing how many jobs and how places work has been great as well as seeing how diverse everyone was.”