Published: 23rd MAY 2024

Hands Up Scotland Survey

The Hands Up Scotland Survey looks at how pupils across Scotland travel to school and nursery. Established in 2008, the survey has been providing an insight into journeys to school for more than a decade and is the largest national dataset on school travel.

Top findings from the 2023 survey

Some of the key findings from the 2023 survey are:

  • In 2023, the percentage of school pupils travelling actively to school, either by walking, cycling, scootering or skating, is at 49.3%. This represents a continued decrease since a 51.2% high in 2020, but is still higher than the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 (47.8%)
  • Cycling is at its highest level of the past ten survey years at 4.7%, 0.8 percentage points (pp) higher than the previous year
  • Walking rates decreased for the third year in a row, decreasing by 1.3pp, but is still by far the most common way school pupils get to school
  • The percentage of pupils scootering or skating to school increased to 3.3%, its highest level of the past ten survey years
  • Bus use has increased for the third year in a row, increasing by 0.6pp to 16.4%. This is comparable to pre-pandemic levels and is the highest level since 2017
  • The proportion of pupils being driven to school saw a 0.6pp drop since 2022, to 22.5%. This is the lowest level since 2016.

Download the Hands Up Scotland Survey 2023 results

About the Hands Up Scotland Survey

The project is funded by Transport Scotland and is a joint survey between Sustrans and all 32 Scottish local authorities.

Each September, schools across Scotland complete the survey by asking their pupils ‘How do you normally travel to school?’.

Local authority officers distribute the survey to schools and return pupil responses to our Research and Monitoring Unit for overall collation, analysis and reporting.

A Parliamentary Order was passed designating Sustrans as Official Statistics Providers in the production of Hands Up Scotland on 1 June 2012. 

The results provide a valuable annual snapshot of school travel.

They are used by Sustrans, Transport Scotland and other groups to:

  • inform policy areas
  • monitor trends in school travel over time
  • and provide information relevant to a variety of health, transport and education initiatives. 
pupils in classroom raising their hands

Hands Up Scotland Survey data request

The Hands Up Scotland Survey team also produces reports containing information at a school level for local authorities.

To access these local authority reports to aid more in-depth analyses for a specific project or purpose, please submit a data request to the Hands Up Scotland Survey team.

Download the Hands Up Scotland Survey Data Request Form.

Sharing of school-level data is at the discretion of the relevant local authority and Sustrans’ Research and Monitoring Unit.

The usual turnaround period for a simple dataset request is two to three weeks. More complex requests may take longer. 

Your submitted data request will be processed in accordance with the Hands Up Scotland Data Request Guidelines Terms and Conditions.

If you encounter any problems in submitting your data request, please contact the Hands Up Scotland Survey team.

Previous survey results

Hands Up Scotland 2022


Hands Up Scotland 2021

Hands Up Scotland 2020


Hands Up Scotland 2019

Hands Up Scotland 2018


Hands Up Scotland 2017 

Hands Up Scotland 2016


Hands Up Scotland 2015

Hands Up Scotland 2014


Hands Up Scotland 2013

Hands Up Scotland 2012


Hands Up Scotland 2011

Hands Up Scotland 2010


Hands Up Scotland 2009

Hands Up Scotland 2008

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