Thousands of children across the UK rely on home to school transport each day to get them to their place of education. There are two main groups of children who rely on home to school transport. In the first group, children who live more than three miles from their nearest school are transported there by bus or taxi, as the government has set three miles as the distance which is too far to walk. The other group of children are those with special educational needs who need to go to a school which might be many miles from their home address. In rural areas, children are more likely to be picked up by a bus, with lots of other children. Children being transported to special schools are more likely to travel in a taxi, on their own or with a chaperone.
Councils and Contracts
Councils deal with home to school transport on a large-scale basis, contracting one company to provide all bus or taxi services across the local authority region. This process usually means asking several large firms to tender for the work and provide lots of evidence about how they are going to operate. This is a far simpler process than trying to arrange each lift on a case by case basis. Some parents may also prefer to opt out of council-provided transport, and just manage the school run my themselves.
One of the main aspects of checking which the Council will do on companies which have tendered for the work is to make sure that they are completely compliant with DBS checking legislation. All taxi drivers need an enhanced, detailed level of DBS checking. For those who work on school transport, this requirement also applies, even in situations where a driver is working with a chaperone, or when they are driving dozens of children all at the same time.
An enhanced DBS check is a detailed look into someone’s criminal record. Along with showing current convictions or cautions, enhanced certificates will also show up older information which the DBS feel is relevant to the job the person is applying for. A taxi driver won’t need a completely clear DBS check in most cases; Councils acknowledge that everyone can make minor mistakes in their youth and then steer clear of trouble. But people who have a longer criminal record, or any crimes of a sexual or violent nature should be blocked from taking a school transport job by a DBS certificate.
What Should Parents Do?
From a parent’s point of view, the prospect of sending your child off to school with a total stranger is worrying. Councils understand these worries and will be happy to discuss their safeguarding and checking processes with parents. Usually, the same driver will work every day, allowing driver and child to get to know each other. For some children, the council might supply a chaperone to travel in the car with the child and the driver, to ensure safety for both.