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Who is repsonsible for school bus children?

(177 Posts)
JessyRose Tue 03-Jul-12 18:48:29

My daughter is due to start school in September of this year, she is quite young for her age and has speech and language issues along with showing signs of anxeity. All of which have had involved with various health professionals, mainly my health visitor.

My problem is when we have come to prepare a care plan with the school we have stumbled across an issue over her travelling on the school bus. Within her care plan myself and the health visitor felt that a hand over between the bus driver to a memebr of staff would be best to ensure my daughter safety. However apparently there is a "grey" area when it comes to the bus driver (The bus carries 60 pupils and there is only the bus driver on board) dropping the children off and a member of staff been on morning playground duty, the bus apparenly often comes early at 8.40 and the teacher on duty apparently doesn't go out until 8.45 and apparently is sometimes delayed due to "talking" to parents. I feel that at the age of 4 my daughter is far to young to be dropped off alone besides a busy school drop off road and then left in a playground for any amount of time without any CRB checked adult to supervise her or the rest of the under 12's from the bus. The head appeared to be understanding to my concerns and said she would try to come up with a solution but that she would have to discuss the issue with the Local Authority to decide who is legally responsible for the safety of the pupils during the drop off period, so at present she is unable to say to the request of a handover.

I am deeply disappointed with the whole situation that in this day and age that common sense doesn't triumph that this is the safetly of a 4 year old girl and other young children and there are 5 minutes in ensuring that the worry and risk is rectified; either the bus should wait until there is a teacher present or the school should ensure that a member of staff goes out to meet her of the school bus. I thought the profession of looking after children would be a more caring one rather than doing only what one must or only what one gets paid for right down do the line.

Ahhhh well after that rant, does anyone know who is legally responsible for the safety of children once they are dropped off via a school bus?

AICM Tue 03-Jul-12 18:56:14

Forgive me for asking but why can't you take her to school?

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 18:57:20

The head has said that she'd discuss it with the LA, and your child already has a care plan that can be adapted if it is agreed that a designated adult can be employed to look after her from her arrival. It would probably be a TA rather than a teacher.
The bus may well have other commitments, the head would have to negotiate with the class teacher to see if they were prepared to take on the daily responsibility of care. I often see parents in the time before school starts.
You are responsible for your child until school starts, or for making arrangements that you are responsible for. Our playground is open from 8.30am, but not supervised until 8.45 when the bell goes for school.

JessyRose Tue 03-Jul-12 19:07:08

I don't drive and live in a really rural area 3 miles away from the town where the school is where there are no direct footpaths leading to town, I live on a low incomed working household and if it does come to point where I do have to get taxis to get her to school it is going to come at great expense.

Also in terms of equality I feel that my daughter should be able to experience the same experiences as other primary school aged children so long as they are safe to do so.

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 19:11:10

Could you accompany your daughter on the bus?

JessyRose Tue 03-Jul-12 19:12:01

Wait a minute, how can I possibly look after my daughter once she is on the bus? I know i'm good but mind control is not one of talents.

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 19:14:25

As a parent, you are responsible for the welfare of your child. Some of our older children walk to school unaccompanied, the parents' decision and responsibility.
I'd make a fuss, what do the other 4 year olds do?
Could you offer to pay for another parent to double up and take your daughter to school?

JessyRose Tue 03-Jul-12 19:16:19

I have offered to travel with her on the school bus and I am a qualified TA who is CRB checked however the head teacher feels my daughter needs to get into the school day routine with her other peers without the assistance of me.

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 19:22:11

All well and good, but point out that her entry into school needs to be scaffolded until she is confident enough and safe enough to be independent.
Do all the children arrive by bus, or are some handed over to the teachers by parents? What about their need to get into the school routine?

JessyRose Tue 03-Jul-12 19:25:28

FallenCarytid, Other children have been travelling to school without adult supervision and there have been some incidents of young children walking off. At Christmas when I was with another parent I witnessed one of the school children get off the bus and slip on the ice and actually go under the bus, thank god the bus was still at the time however that child was injured and I actually took the injured child into school because there was no member of staff on the school gate.

JessyRose Tue 03-Jul-12 19:30:22

In the terms of her bus pass agreement it states that if she misbhaves on the bus that that behaviour is punishable via the school, so if that is the case that behaviour once on the bus is governed by the school and LA surely so is her safety.

All I can find with the county councils school travel policy is the statement - The County Council is legally required to provide reasonably safe home to school travel.

RackandRuin Tue 03-Jul-12 19:32:16

I think you have a valid concern, but at lead the Head has acknowledged the problem and will hopefully come up with a solution.

At my dc school all bused in children are taken by a member of staff directly into the school building.

Sirzy Tue 03-Jul-12 19:34:37

One adult on a bus full of primary school children and that one adult being the one who is driving? that in itself doesn't sound safe. Surely the ideal would be for the LEA to employ 2 or 3 escorts to ensure the safety of the children on the bus?

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 19:35:24

If she misbehaves on the bus, the company has the right to refuse to continue the contract, so the school take responsibility for enforcing sanctions and punishments for poor behaviour on the bus. In the same way that the secondary schools round here take a keen interest if children wearing their uniform are behaving inappropriately off school grounds.
That doesn't mean that they have a duty of care for safety.
What were the legal consequences of the incident you described? What did the head and governors decide to change to prevent recurrence of it next time it was icy?

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 19:37:07

Sirzy, no adult other than the driver is very common, funding just not available.

Fairenuff Tue 03-Jul-12 19:40:40

The school is not responsible for any children until they are on the premises. How they get there is not the responsibility of the head teacher. Currently there is not legal requirement for school staff to collect children from bus stops.

learnandsay Tue 03-Jul-12 19:41:01

Our school doesn't have buses but they have an impressive system of teachers, parents, volunteers and the local neighbourhood watch team to safeguard the children on their way to school. (It isn't just left to chance, and the odd teacher who might happen to be passing by.)

NoComet Tue 03-Jul-12 19:41:09

I agree with the OP that DCs in KS1 arriving on a bus should be meet by a member of staff.

It does not happen, our bus gets in at 8.45. You are not allowed on to the playground until 8.50.

Hopefully the HT is quietly watching out for them at the front of school, but there is no official supervision.

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 19:43:37

It's not just until they are on school property though, as I said, our playground is open before anyone is supervising. The school isn't responsible before the time stated that they are staffing the area.
Parents tried complaining about it when they dropped their children off at 8am before work, so that's when the gates stayed locked until 8.30am.

Sirzy Tue 03-Jul-12 19:43:41

Do you know another parent who lives closer to the school who would be willing to keep and eye out for her until the staff arrive?

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 19:45:12

That's the solution that a lot of our parents who work shifts have, they watch out for each others' children.

JessyRose Tue 03-Jul-12 20:10:07

I remember when teaching and working in a school was not a business it was not a job that people went into for the money, it was a job that you did because of the children. Similiar to nursing and doctors, it was a calling. Now it seems to me that institutions such as school, doctors, hospital and so on are now filled with people who do it for the money rather than the love and joy of working in the the enviornment. Shame really, that you have to question an institutions policy when it comes to the safety of children. Very disappointing.

Sirzy Tue 03-Jul-12 20:12:34

I think thats being rather harsh on the staff Jessy.

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 20:13:58

How did I know that you were going to come back to that complaint?
Yes, it used to be a very different job 30 years ago when I started teaching.
Times change.
Your point?

FallenCaryatid Tue 03-Jul-12 20:17:54

In fact, as a parent of a child with SN, and a teacher who had to be in work by 8am every morning and couldn't leave until 5pm, I'd still say your child is your responsibility.

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