Guidance for Head Teachers and School Staff:
Safeguarding Training - the School Transport Service in Derbyshire has additional safeguarding requirements for all companies that undertake school contracts. This includes a new requirement to attend safeguarding awareness training. Training has been delivered to all licensed taxi drivers in Derbyshire from 2018 and during 2019/20 it is being made compulsory for all school bus drivers and companies delivering council contracts. The school transport service is also planning to introduce compulsory training for all passenger assistants on council contracts, who assist SEND students and vulnerable students on journeys.
The Council, where they 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 DBS and child barred list checks. Schools should be reassured that the Council is working to ensure this is achieved and, as detailed above, is working with companies in delivering appropriate safeguarding training.
Derbyshire Schools – Bus, Coach, Taxis companies providing private* arrangements with Schools:
*By definition services that are privately owned, and/or managed, or services operated by parents or others providing services to schools (e.g. ‘Parent Bus’ arrangements) and those that come onto the school site; including 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 and the following should be adhered to:
- 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/students.
- Ensure that 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).
- Ensure that all drivers receive induction and also safeguarding training and that training includes specific issues concerning children and young people e.g. Child Sexual Exploitation.
- A School has the 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).
- A School has the 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 1 and 2 and keep a record of that letter and response alongside the personnel records held in the School (not required on an SCR)
- A School has the right to insist that all second drivers and/or passenger assistants who accompany the main driver should also have the appropriate checks and they need verification (such as DBS check). This may be the case on longer distance trips where under Drivers Hours legislation there is a requirement for two drivers.
- Schools are expected to report any concerns they have and for the Designated Safeguarding Lead/or a senior manager in a School to report and seek advice from the School Transport Teams. They should consider any threshold for LADO (Local Authority Designated Lead for investigating allegations against professionals, volunteers, carers), and/or seek a referral into Social Care if appropriate. This includes any concerns or worries raised by a pupil/student using both school and public transport.
- A School should exercise the right to seek advice and decline a private contract or continuation of a private arrangement if they don’t feel reassured by the information provided.
In addition, it is a longer term aim that all drivers on both DCC contracted services and non-DCC 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. A checklist has been produced to assist in checking the compliance of companies and drivers. Note this is not an exhaustive list and if you have any concerns you are able to ask more searching questions. A copy of this checklist can be requested from the School Bus Team.
Helpful guidance for Drivers:
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 professional 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 required to undergo safeguarding awareness training via the district licensing offices and a training resource has been produced by us for this purpose. An appropriate training resource has been developed with bus companies and it is a longer term aim that by the end of 2020 all school bus drivers will have received DCC endorsed training.
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:
- 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. Think about how you use social media, and what you post, especially if you make reference to the school, a staff member, or a pupil. If you do, you could find yourself in an allegations procedure, and be subject to an enquiry. 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. If you have any further questions please raise them with your relevant line manager who will seek to address any questions you have by taking advice from the children’s safeguarding team.
Further information including guidance for schools and the safeguarding information cards for bus drivers can be found at the ‘School Buses’ page of the DCC website.