4-11 year olds travelling alone on Warwickshire School Buses, is this right?

(61 Posts)
hannagomm Sun 06-Jan-13 21:26:36

Chaperones, Bus Escorts or Passenger Travel Assistants PTA (whichever you call them) are being removed from Mainstream Primary school buses across Warwickshire, Warwickshire County Council have just told more parents that they are about to loose their PTA. Leaving drivers as the sole adult on the bus.

How can a driver drive the school bus carrying 4-11 year olds and supervise all the kids whilst driving? This is a crazy cut and the council is not making the savings either, Once school the saving is just £2.50 a day!

There are some parents that have a petition running on Warwickshire County Councils website to ask the council to change reinstate the passenger assistants.
Please help spread the message and sign/share this, it runs to the end of January 2013.
bit.ly/11t528M

See press they are front page of the Nuneaton Tribune
bit.ly/ZtM6Yp

They are also on Facebook AssistantsOnSchoolBuses

What are your views, is a child's safety worth this kind of risk?

lunchbox Mon 07-Jan-13 10:55:18

I've driven school buses in a previous job, up to 70 kids, with no escort.

In my experience, primary school kids are fine by themselves, (secondary kids are a whole other thread!) they're usually well behaved, and are met in mornings by a teacher who then supervises them back on to the bus in the afternoon.

It may be possible for you to ride on the bus for the first day, check with the LEA and bus company.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 07-Jan-13 11:34:52

Properformer. At my school the bus is mostly used by sahp, its a distance thing if their other dc are at different schools and not a childcare thing. I wouldnt use it if I was at work for that very reason. I would use the after school club and pick up myself or have a cm pick up from school.

The school bus for our rural village school has never had an escort. For primary children between 4 and 11 who use the bus are put on it by a parent and travel with just the driver and are met at the school by a member of staff, reverse that for home time. There has never been a problem with this and parents have never had an issue. It's a small school and approximately 10 children use the school bus covering the whole range of ages. The older ones will often help the younger ones if needed.
As far as I am aware this is the case for the whole of the (fairly rural) county. I have never heard of anybody having a problem with this.
When if gets to the high school bus again the driver is the only adult. Never any problems. I fail to see why this is an issue.

hannagomm Mon 07-Jan-13 18:58:45

There have already been 15 incidents of misbehaviour including two 5year olds that were left at the wrong stop, bullying, a child leaving the vehicle by the emergency exit. Kids not wearing seat belts and standing up on the journey. These are all primary school buses.

At this age 4 if a child that is at the back of a 49 seater bus, how are they supposed to raise the alarm to a driver?

What if the bus breaks down or the vehicle needs to be evacuated. Or heaven forbid, the driver becomes unwell during the journey. Who will take care of these kids. Sometimes on rural roads where there is no immediate help.

My view is that this is unsafe practice and it will only take one child to be seriously hurt and a lawsuit will cost the council!

hannagomm Mon 07-Jan-13 19:17:06

Hollysheet some schools lost their assistants last year. More are going soon, this is not just Nuneaton. Warwickshire County council are rolling this out across the whole of Warwickshire, but seems like its a few schools in each term. Prob to stop parents all protesting at once!

losingtrust Mon 07-Jan-13 19:22:40

My dcs now 8 and 12 have been doing this for two years in Worcestershire. Drivers are Crb checked. I don't see what the issue is. They are met by the school at the primary.

losingtrust Mon 07-Jan-13 19:33:26

My eldest takes the youngest home off the bus twice a week and I have a lady who comes in the mornings. When they were younger the children would only be let off the bus by the driver if there was an adult there. Sometimes me and another local mom share the pick up as we both work. My eldest used to come back on his own from age 9. With my youngest I always make sure I am there in the evenings if she is on her own. Most kids round here get it from age 4. One little boy got off early but two older girls waited with him until his mom found him. The older ones become very responsible at an early age and I think it is good for them.

losingtrust Mon 07-Jan-13 19:34:53

It is a per-paid service only and council will withdraw pass from badly behaved children. The only bad thing is the language but really they would get that anywhere.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Mon 07-Jan-13 19:39:55

I'm the same county as Bunnyjo, and that was my DCs secondary school with the student refused travel on the bus, although not their bus.

I would agree that behaviour of secondary schools pupils is far worse than that of primary schools.

Most kids and parents just get on with. Its the norm in our rural county.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 07-Jan-13 19:41:05

All of those issues sound to me like bad management tbh.
A) children shouldnt be left if there is noone at the stop. The driver should take them with him back to the school or have something in place though this has never happened at my school. I dont actually see how an assistant prevents this anyway. Did they get off with the dc?
B) misbehaviour is punished by the schools in place system or whatever it is and then the privilege is withdrawn.
C)if the bus breaks down then presumably another bus arrives, as it would with an assistant there. The other things are very unlikely as well.

Doesnt the fact that there havent been any incidents or lawsuits anywhere else suggest that it is a nonissue?

It actually sounds that the presence of the assistant has been preventing the dc taking responsibility for themselves and behaving properly. And the older ones havent been encouraged to look after the younger. Is it a very rowdy group generally?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 07-Jan-13 19:41:57

I would suggest that commonsense dictates that the younger ones sit towards the front as well, again a management issue.

I've never heard of such a thing in mainstream, my DCs bus certainly didn't - they survived.

mrz Mon 07-Jan-13 19:48:05

We don't even have school buses

hannagomm Mon 07-Jan-13 20:06:40

Losingtrust I think its good that you have a support system with parents and the other kids help each other out.

One of the school buses that we are talking about just has 4/5/6 year olds travelling on it. So no older kids to help out.
Others only have only a few kids that stay on until the last stop. So this kind of support is not always there for everyone and the council should not assume that is a viable solution.

The council have a legal obligation to get kids to school who live outside a certain radius if there is no safe walking route, so this should be safe transport where provided and I believe that removing the adult for a peanuts saving is crazy.

mrz Mon 07-Jan-13 20:10:02

My LEA provides bus passes for children to travel on normal service bus routes. When a parent said she couldn't afford the bus fare they suggested her 4 year old travel alone

losingtrust Mon 07-Jan-13 20:12:59

I think it's just in rural areas where they have a school bus. We don't have a normal regular bus service near us.

losingtrust Mon 07-Jan-13 20:15:54

Would not let a four year old go on a normal bus service on their own.

hannagomm Mon 07-Jan-13 20:20:25

Mrz thats crazy, if there is no passenger assistant then any parent would want to ensure that a 4 year old travels safe. if this were a regular bus that carries adults as well as school children, and a parent put a 4yr old on it alone, then social services would be called and the bus driver would prob refuse to take the child!.

mrz Mon 07-Jan-13 20:28:05

as the child was still just 4 mum kept her at home until she managed to get a place in a school within walking distance. I'm not sure what would have happened if she had been an autumn birthday.

hannagomm Mon 07-Jan-13 20:45:42

Youbrokemysmoulder well a passenger assistant is usually the same person who is on the bus everyday and builds a rapport with the kids and the parents knowing who should get off with who and when. Drivers change regularly sometime am to pm.
They are also another pair of eyes to lookout for something not right on or off the journey and are able to assist in an emergency or if the driver incapacitated.

I go to work everyday on a bus and it brokedown the other day. The driver was outside trying to fix it and on the phone to his helpline mechanic. We were like this for at least 15mins before he got it going again. If this was a bus full of kids, who would keep the children calm if the driver is outside?

Or if there was an accident and the vehicle needed evacuation urgently. Dred to think.

hannagomm Mon 07-Jan-13 20:47:14

And help with that management of the bus you suggest.

Honestly, every other poster on this thread lives in places with no escorts. You're beginning to sound slightly hysterical now - how do you think children and drivers everywhere else in the UK apart from Nuneaton manage? It's telling that you're the only one who has experienced episodes of bad behaviour and bus "incidents" (all 15 of them!), and that's presumably with an escort.

Viviennemary Mon 07-Jan-13 20:51:59

This has been going on for a very long time in a lot of areas. But it is certainly not something I would let my four year old do or even five or six year old. A nine year old or so then fair enough.

zeeboo Mon 07-Jan-13 20:55:35

The entire United States of America manage to survive with only drivers on board.

LynetteScavo Mon 07-Jan-13 21:06:42

I don't think the OP sounds hysterical.

I no longer see the bus that brings the DC to my DC's primary school. They used to have a helper lady, but no longer do (so I've heard). I would't have been happy putting my DC on the bus at just turned 4 with the helper, but without You must be joking!

DS1 take the bus 13 miles to school. It's a double decker, and from what I hear it sometimes goes down single track lanes (the route was changed so it's not supposed to, but apparently it does. During the time DS has take the bus there have been several incidents. Because there have been 6th formers looking after him and the weather has been fine, and he's had a sensible bus driver that day, he's always been OK. But he has strict instructions to phone me or DH at work if the bus breaks down in the cold and we will come and get him immediately. There have been incidents when DC weren't OK. I've brought it up with the school (no idea if other parents did also) and schools put teachers on the buses until we were sure things were calm.

I think it's sad 4 year olds will be/are expected to cope on the bus by themselves. But obviously I'm in a minority.

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