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Rural schools - has anyone organised a private mini-bus?

(11 Posts)
oklumberjack Mon 30-Jan-17 09:31:46

My dd is in Y7. She attends a great school but it's very rural. Sometimes I pick her up/drop her in the car when I can but often she gets the school bus. We're out of catchment/area of prime responsibility for the school so we have to pay. It's £3 each way per pupil, per day.

I don't really mind paying because it's the choice I made when choosing the school. However, the problem is more the behaviour on the school bus. It's pretty grim. Swearing (can live with this) kicking, name-calling etc (although my dd hasn't had this aimed at herself she has seen it).
I'm going to bring it up with the school at the next parents evening, however myself and another parent close to me were wondering about how would hiring a private mini-bus work? It would have to be a long contract but I'm pretty sure we could fill it most days.
There are many other mini-buses that drop off at the school from other small villages but these are arranged by the lea I think. We'd have to arrange ourselves.

Can I ask, has anyone done this long term? How easy/hard it it? What are the pitfalls? Is it an awful idea?

Girlwhowearsglasses Mon 30-Jan-17 09:40:35

Is the LEA paying a private company though- assuming they are then you just need to find out who that is and speak with them. Or maybe school can tell you and perhaps even get a better deal. You might find it's a lot of work for you chasing parents etc unless there's some system for paying or are aging where to pick up from etc (or maybe all kids are near one 'stop' and no picking up from different addresses needed?)

whojamaflip Mon 30-Jan-17 09:44:15

Friends of ours tried this for a couple of years when their dc went up to secondary school - rural village, out of catchment school. Minibus was too difficult to fill so they ended up using a taxi - think they had to pay up front and was pricey- my dc are now at the same school and we have a rota going where we share lifts in and out of school - it's working well and we have set days so we know what's happening. One of the other mums made noises in September about trying to sort out a minibus and contacted a couple of the local bus companies but never pursued it due to cost.

I do know of other villages where it works well and I think they pay up front each term for their place on the bus and then It's up to them If they use it or not.

oklumberjack Mon 30-Jan-17 10:12:08

Interesting replies thanks.

Yes, I am worried about the headache of being able to fill it all the time but if we paid upfront I guess that would help.

I know a few parents of older kids who do car shares but have you see siblings joining and they now say they'll be stuck as they can't fit everyone in their own car.

I think I'll have a chat with the school and see what the deal is.

AllPowerfulLizardPerson Mon 30-Jan-17 10:25:17

If it's all pupils from the same school living in the same places, then how would you prevent poor behaviour on the minibus? If you're proposing to have an adult chaperone (taking up one seat) that increases the price for everyone else, even if the chaperone is a parent who gives their time for free.

Think carefully about your T&Cs, because unless you have people signing up in termly blocs, it can become unviable rapidly, but someone will still have to pay the hire fee.

Also, what time will it return in the evening? Will there need to be two services, one at ordinary home time and one post-clubs?

SavoyCabbage Mon 30-Jan-17 10:27:50

I know someone who pays for a taxi. There are four dc and they get the train and then a taxi from the station to the school as there is no public bus. There is a school but but it leaaves at 6.45 as it has to trail through loads of villages.

lljkk Mon 30-Jan-17 10:45:23

If you could find a load of interested parents, then you could approach local taxi & bus companies & ask if they would like to provide a service, providing your contact details (you have done some market research for them). If they can make money, they will do it. I would expect your per journey cost to at least double. Make sure the service contract would try to include early pick up days (half days, unexpected school closures, etc)

Wandainn Mon 30-Jan-17 17:35:58

You already have a bus service.
Don't wait for parents evening to raise the behaviour on the bus. Schools can and do take this seriously and would act.

lljkk Mon 30-Jan-17 18:55:40

But is it a school bus, or a private service, or even a regular commuter bus.

oklumberjack Tue 31-Jan-17 12:52:02

The bus that we use now is a school bus, but for children out of the catchment area. So we have to pay. Within catchment area the children have a free bus. Out of catchment children make up about a quarter of the cohort.
Basically, we live on the border of two counties. The school is only 3 miles away from our house as the crow flies but in a different LEA.

I think I may look into more of a car share scheme. Not sure how to start (as I don't know many parents) but I'll give a go.

yeOldeTrout Tue 31-Jan-17 15:35:45

DS goes to school on a private bus service. That only services the high school. If we have complaints, we go to the private company. Other kids take the bog standard regular public bus service (goes between town centres, no adjustment for altered school times) or the smaller minibus service (a different private company). The LEA & school has nothing to do with the out-of-catchment kids' transport to school.

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