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Guidance for headteachers to pass onto drivers and passenger assistants

The school transport service in Derbyshire will have a revised service specification with additional safeguarding requirements for all companies they undertake contracts with and this includes requirements around safeguarding.

Training is currently being investigated specifically for school bus drivers and companies and it is a medium term aim that this will be a council requirement from late 2018 onwards. 

Where the council have commissioned the home to school service to schools, are responsible for ensuring the required checks are in place where there is contact with children and young people such as enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and child barred list checks. Schools should be reassured that the council is working to ensure this is achieved and is working with companies looking at developing appropriate safeguarding training. 

Derbyshire Schools – Bus, Coach, Taxis* companies providing private arrangements with schools

*By definition services that are privately owned, or services operated by parents or others providing services to schools (e.g. ‘Parent Bus’ arrangements) and those that come onto the school site. UK coach companies being used for trips and visits in the UK and abroad. 

There is a minimum requirement when a school arranges transport separately on a private or one-off basis with commercial companies that the following should be adhered to:

  1. All drivers must have a current enhanced DBS undertaken by their employer and any other checks deemed necessary by the employer in order to undertake work that brings them into contact with pupils or students.
  2. Subsequent checks as to any disclosures under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 are taking place upon recruitment and thereafter at regular intervals (disclosure of reprimands, warnings, convictions).
  3. All drivers would have had induction which includes safeguarding and also regular safeguarding training and that training includes specific issues concerning children and young people e.g. Child Sexual Exploitation.
  4. Schools have a right to ask questions of a private company coming onto the school site to feel reassured and to record that activity and response alongside the personnel records held in the school (not required on an SCR).
  5. Schools have a right to write out to commercial companies being used for private or one-off work to ask for a written clarification and confirmation of points one and two and keep a record of that letter and response alongside with the personnel records held in the school (not required on an SCR).
  6. Schools are expected to report any concerns they have and for a Designated Lead/SMT in a school to report and seek advice from the School Transport Team, consider any threshold for LADO, seek a referral into Social Care if appropriate and that this includes any concerns or worries raised by a pupil/student using both school and public transport.
  7. Schools should exercise a right to seek advice and decline a private contract or continuation of a private arrangement if they don’t feel reassured.

In addition, it is a longer term aim that all drivers on both council contracted services and non-council private bookings with commercial companies, should have an induction which includes safeguarding and also regular and appropriate safeguarding training which includes specific issues concerning children and young people e.g. Child Sexual Exploitation.

Bus companies being used from the local area when abroad is a more complex issue as these companies may not have the same regulations, and could not offer such regulation. It would be down to the discretion of the school to ensure supervision of the pupils/students and have risk assessments that incorporate such an undertaking. 

There will be expectations as described above from any school in Derbyshire using transport which brings drivers into contact with pupils/students. 

There are useful card handouts available from the Derbyshire County Council website that can be circulated to your transport providers. These cover helpful guidance for school transport drivers and escorts.

Drivers need to be prepared that a pupil/student may want to talk and engage with a driver. Drivers should be polite and answer curious questions about their role but be clear and brief with the pupil/student and dissuade from conversation. If a pupil/student persists you should inform your line manager who should report this to DCC School Transport or the school to help identify any early issues and avoid any escalation of these.

School bus drivers, taxi drivers and passenger assistants who provide transport on behalf of Derbyshire County Council have been issued with zip cards to carry on them in the course of their duties reminding them of their duties in safeguarding. These cards can be made available to schools and can be reproduced.

Taxi drivers are being required to undergo safeguarding awareness training via the district licensing offices and a training resource has been produced by the council for this purpose.  An appropriate training resource is being developed with bus companies and it is a longer term aim that all bus drivers will receive council endorsed training from late 2018 onwards.

Drivers may be approached by a child or young person and they may tell or show you something that is a worry or concern and drivers need to be prepared for this. They should:

  • tell the pupil/student they must tell someone else in the school or setting
  • report the information as soon as possible (however trivial it appears), don’t delay and use the agreed reporting codes for your organisation
  • if the pupil/student has a worry or concern about another member of staff you have a duty to report this, again don’t delay

Pupils/students need to feel safe on school and public transport and companies contracted to Derbyshire or the school should make a contribution to this. We all need to foster a culture of openness and support where all those who come into contact with children and young people act as responsible citizens and role models.

We all need to think about how to behave and conduct ourselves and avoid contact which would lead any reasonable adult to question your motivation and intentions.

Do not behave in a manner which would lead any reasonable person to question your suitability to be around children and young people. You will find all schools now have similar guidelines for their own staff.

Your understanding of safeguarding is important to us. We all need to work together and help create safe environments.  The overriding principle must be that if you have any concerns, information or worries about a child or young person, let someone in authority know as soon as possible.

For further information on school transport, email: schooltransport@derbyshire.gov.uk or tel: 01629 536740

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