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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.

See press they are front page of the Nuneaton Tribune

They are also on Facebook AssistantsOnSchoolBuses

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

DeWe Tue 08-Jan-13 11:29:39

Sign of how times have changed.
At 5yo my dm got on a bus alone at 7:30, changed bus twice, the second place meeting up with a child 2 years older than her. If a bus was late she had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. shock
When I was little it was unusual for parents to go to the bus stop with the children. I remember dm picking up a group of children going to school who'd obviously missed the bus one time. We knew the children vaguely by sight. Wouldn't dare do that now.

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Mon 07-Jan-13 23:14:55

"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."

wrong stop = keep kids on bus until claimed by adult
bullying = school and parent problem, needs to be dealt with
leaving vehicle by emergency exit, standing up, not wearing seat belts = kid loses privileges
kids of 4 stay down front and are buddied by older kids, even if they're only 6 (at which age girls in particular are psychotically responsible).

bus breakdown = stay on bus until relief bus comes
ditto driver breakdown.

Bunnyjo Mon 07-Jan-13 23:11:46

Oh RaspberryLemonPavlova, we must live somewhat near each other? We are in the catchment for that secondary school, we live about 4 miles to the west! Mind, the catchment for that school is huge since they closed the secondary school to the north...

OP, at the risk of sounding rude, talk of lawsuits and worries about vehicle evacuations, or the driver becoming unwell, is rather bonkers hysterical to be honest. In the rest of the country having only one adult - the driver - on board has been the norm for many years. Unless there are children with specific SN, then I really cannot understand why there would be a need for chaperone. I think there are obviously problems if there have been so many incidents since the removal of chaperones, but you (and others behind this petition) are looking in the wrong place for the solution. Children should not be getting up and/or removing their seatbelt during the journey - that would not be allowed here. I also cannot comprehend how/why the bus driver has allowed children off the bus without seeing the parent - again, that would not happen here.

In London, I believe that school transport is provided on public bus routes only, with no provision for parents to travel with their DC and with pick-up and drop-off being the most local public bus stop. That is for children aged 4+! Now, if you were suggesting that there was safety issues with that I would be in complete agreeance. However, Warwickshire are only implementing what is already commonplace in the rest of the country. How is it that the rest of the country can operate with only a driver on board with very little incident, but that 'all hell breaks loose' when Warwickshire tries to implement the same?

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Mon 07-Jan-13 23:08:10

so you need to sort out the policies regarding the bus drivers and letting the kids off. unless the children of Nuneaton are particularly special, they will really be fine once that's sorted. look at all the people telling you that it works fine in their areas.

on our route, the driver counts the kids off and checks that there's a responsible adult there for them. if not, he drives off with the children in the bus and it's up to the parent to ring the bus company and sort out how to get hold of them. (Normally they drop them off on the way back, i believe).

'responsible adult' = parent, grandparent, nanny etc. there are generally about five of us waiting, sometimes we say we'll take other kids to the park (drop-off is at park gates) if we know that their parents are likely running late. Obviously we parents all swapped mobile numbers as well, so we can buzz each other if there's a problem. it takes a village, and all that...

hannagomm Mon 07-Jan-13 22:44:43

admission Good Point. The Local Authority is refusing to be responsible, despite the fact that they commission and provide the service which they have a legal obligation to.

Many Parents have no other choice than the school bus, this is their only way to get their child to school. Other parents may loose faith in the school bus if they think it is unsafe and will increase already congested roads around the school gates which nobody wants.

hannagomm Mon 07-Jan-13 22:30:19

I can assure you that this is a real concern for us rather than me being Wacko. The two 5year olds were left at the wrong stop AFTER the passenger Assistant was removed from the school bus and the parents were frantic thinking the worst. So indeed did all the other 15 incidents that I mentioned happen after the passenger assistant was removed.

Warwickshire are removing Assistants from school buses a few at a time. clearly the proceedures are not robust enough for this decision to be made in the first place.
For one school the council is saving is £2.50 a day. Which does not seem worth the risk to me.

Do you know of any proceedures are in place on the primary school buses where you live where the driver is the only adult to stop these sorts of incidents?

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Mon 07-Jan-13 22:05:07

i do think the OP is sounding a bit wacko, tbh. however, if children are being left behind etc etc etc and this is WITH an assistant, there's definitely a problem with the way things are being run. she's just jumping to the wrong conclusion in assuming that the presence of an assistant is making things better and a sole driver with sole responsibility for the kids will result in worse behaviour.

LynetteScavo Mon 07-Jan-13 21:50:47

admission, I thought the legal requirement was that the child was educated once the child was 5yo, not that they arrived at school on time. If the parent chooses to enroll them in school, then yes, of course they should ensure they attend each day on time if they possibly can.

weegiemum Mon 07-Jan-13 21:27:18

My dc travel on a school bus in glasgow, they're p5 and p6. However, the buses haven't changed since they started.

They walk to the bus stop (alone) about 5 mins away. I can't accompany as I'm disabled, but I don't know other parents who do. It's a driver-only bus, no escorts. Driver has my number, in case there's an issue.

Drops them off at same bus stop, they walk home together (5mins).

Seems great to me. My dd1 is 12 in her first year at high school, she gets 2 normal service buses to school (in same building as others).

I've totally no issue! I walked a mile to school alone when I was 4. The world hasn't changed that much!

admission Mon 07-Jan-13 21:21:23

I go back to my original question, who is acting as "in loco parentis" when the kids are on the bus, is it the LA or is it the parents of the children.
If it is the parents then they have a decision to make. Are they happy for the child to be on the bus on their own or not. If not then they need to find an alternate way of getting the pupil to school on time, which is the legal requirement once they are 5 .

LynetteScavo Mon 07-Jan-13 21:15:30

Do pre-kindergarten and kindergarten DC take the school bus in the US?

Or are first graders the youngest DC on the school bus, as in UK's Y2?

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.

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

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

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.

AgentProvocateur Mon 07-Jan-13 20:51:14

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.

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

And help with that management of the bus you suggest.

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.

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 20:20:25

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!.

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

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

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.

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

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 19:48:05

We don't even have school buses

SauvignonBlanche Mon 07-Jan-13 19:42:04

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

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