Hands-up surveys

Hands-up surveys

About this activity

Essential for all STARS schools and nurseries.

Carry out a hands-up survey annually to find out how your staff and pupils travel to and from school, and how they would like to travel. The results will help you to better understand your school’s travel habits and identify areas for improvement. 

To apply for or maintain STARS accreditation each academic year, at least 90% of pupils and staff need to take part in an annual survey.

Your borough officer and the STARS team will use the results to calculate your school’s modal shift away from car use, which helps determine your level of STARS accreditation as follows:

Bronze accreditation

Carry out an annual pupil hands-up survey. Carrying out a staff survey is recommended

Silver accreditation

Carry out an annual pupil and staff hands-up survey.  Demonstrate modal shift away from car use, compared with the school’s very first hands-up survey.

Gold accreditation

Carry out an annual pupil and staff hands-up survey.  Demonstrate either:

  • A 6% modal shift away from car use, compared with the school’s very first hands-up survey
  • At least 90% of the school population travel by sustainable modes such as public transport, cycling or walking

How and when to carry out your annual survey

If your school or nursery has carried out your annual hands-up survey in a previous academic year, we recommend you conduct your annual survey in a short time period. Ideally, all surveys should take place on the same day. If this is not possible, please ensure they are completed within the same week.

School travel plan champions - find a guide to setting up a ‘hands-up survey group on STARS Online’ in the resources section of this card. This takes you step-by-step through how to capture and log your schools survey data on the system.

Please note: You do not need to complete the ‘Tell your story’ page, this page is for guidance only.

Activity steps

Set a date
Choose a normal school day or week to complete the survey, when most pupils and staff are in school and the weather is dry. Avoid special events like Walk to School or Bikers' Breakfast days as these may unfairly affect results.
Tell your staff team/Put the word out
Share instructions with teachers on how to collect responses and include a deadline for results to be returned.
Start the survey
Follow the instructions on the hands-up survey page to find out how your pupils and staff usually travel to school (mode used most frequently and greatest distance) and how they'd prefer to travel
Adapting the survey
For younger children and some SEND pupils, you may need to instead ask: ‘How did you travel to school this morning?’, or ask their parents/carers to respond. You could use the travel mode flash cards to help you. Find other ideas in the Resources section
Record the answers
Count and record the number of pupils and staff for each mode. Each person should answer only each question once. If this is difficult for younger pupils, you could ask your pupils to sit on their hands once they’ve answered!
Record the results
Collate responses from at least 90% of pupils and staff and record them on your school’s STARS Surveys page. Read the full instructions on how and where to add your hands-up survey on your schools hands-up page on STARS Online or see the Resource section.
Repeat or run other surveys
You can run as many surveys as you wish throughout the year to monitor active travel progress. For example you could do a termly survey with your cycle club, or a survey a single year group before and after a walking challenge to monitor its impact.
You do not need to complete the ‘Tell your story’ page for this activity.

How it helps

  • Supports all STARS travel activities
  • Demonstrates the success of activities
  • Encourages class participation and team work


Useful links, templates and case studies to support this activity