THOUSANDS OF children have been getting into step for national Walk to School Week.

And schools and education authorities throughout the North-East hope parents will too.

Only 12 per cent of children were taken to school by car in Britain in the mid-1970s, whereas half the country's primary school pupils now travel by car.

A survey by Middlesbrough Council last year showed that 35 per cent of the community's youngsters were taken to school by car.

Ros Pluck, school travel co-ordinator at the council, said: "We want to change people's travel habits, which will, in turn, benefit the whole community.

"Walking to school will help children get their recommended daily exercise, making them fitter and healthier.

"They will also find that they learn a lot more about the area they live in while they are walking."

Mrs Pluck added: "Parents, too, will avoid the frustrating battle through congestion to park near the school as well as having an opportunity to meet other parents."

Every child in reception and Year One classes across east Cleveland has been given high-visibility Walk to School tabards to wear.

Promotional posters are being displayed in every primary and junior school throughout the district.

Councillor Eric Empson, of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council said: "We are trying to make walking to school a fun and healthy exercise, and, of course, it has got lots of other benefits.

"It cuts down on the number of cars on the road, reduces the problems of parking near schools and improves the school environment with less pollution, all adding up to healthier lifestyles."