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Those of you with children using home to school authority transport - please chat

(9 Posts)
happyinherts Sat 21-May-11 17:35:08

I've taken on work as a passenger escort taking primary aged children to school and home.

I am astounded by the lack of knowledge the transport department of local authority have given me. I expected to be given details of each child's needs and whether there were different specific instructions each day, ie, child going to a club after school and being picked up by grandparent, etc.

I have been told to contact transport department in certain scenarios - eg if a parent specifies drop off at a different address, etc, but I cant always get through to department when I need to.

So all you parents out there entrusting escorts like me with such valuable charges as your children, please throw me a few tips. Do you have your escorts mobile number and phone her direct? (I've been told not to give mine out but I'm finding the department useless)

Do you always have the same escort? I want the same route but I'm not sure I will. Do you always meet vehicle at roadside or is it acceptable for me to knock on your door? Does your child have it's own designated seat on vehicle? Would you like me to spend time interacting with your child on journey - talking about their day, their hobbies, their life or just take the lead from them? I want to earn parents trust and do a good job at this. I am not impressed at all by authority passenger transport department. I currently have 5 statemented children travelling just under an hour to school from first pick up - traffic a nightmare - any tips.

TIA

walesblackbird Sat 21-May-11 17:49:57

My 7 year old uses escorted transport to his specialist unit. He's picked up and dropped off by the same driver and escort every morning. I don't have his escort's number but I do have the taxi company number and the driver's private mobile number so that if we're having problems with DS then I can contact him direct.

In the morning the driver comes and knocks on the door to pick him up and walks him down the steps holding his hand. He's lovely with my son. My son is usually not the first to be picked up so it's generally safer for the escort to stay on the van in case anyone decides to do a runner!

I've just asked my son what his escort does - and his response was to tell the other children off when they swear (which, given the nature of the school and pupils they do ... a lot!).

I doubt that my son's escort has an in-depth knowledge of my son's issues and behaviours - I have explained a little to his driver but tbh my son's issues are rather private to him and us and I'd rather keep it that way. They do, though, know a little about his behaviours and what they can expect.

Would I like her to interact with my son? Yes, I have no problem with that although tbh I suspect that as an escort she is going to pretty much have her hands full managing the behaviour of 7 or 8 quite unruly children!

Good luck

happyinherts Sat 21-May-11 21:38:09

Thanks walesblackbird

I've done 3 days last week and have next week with the same run - but I doubt it will be after the half term break.

I don't wish to intrude on personal issues at all, but it would be beneficial for me to know which children have epilepsy or even liable to feel travel sick on the awful journey we encounter.

The driver had slight knowledge of the children's whereabouts after school but admitted he left that to his regular escort, who seems to be off sick for two weeks. I tend to go along with the view that the driver has to be in charge of a safe vehicle and to negotiate the road, leaving the escort to take care of individual needs, wants and personal safety of children.

I think I've done well. I've had 5 boys between the ages of 6 to 11. They have their nominated seat on the minibus and although there's the usual banter that happens with children, there have been no issues at all. They settle down well in their seats and I've got to know all of them by taking up different seats in the bus and moving on when next child gets in. I have to take the two youngest into school, one to be met by a teacher and the other to be taken to a behavioural unit. This has enabled me to interact in the playground for a while as we've been early for school and cannot hand over until 8.50.

I love the job and my 5 little friends. However, I can't help but notice that so much appears to be 'hit and miss' and the transport department haven't really issued me any guidelines.

raspberrytart Mon 23-May-11 18:02:31

My 5 year old ds uses transport to and from school.
Although only been going since September we have the same lady, she comes and knocks on the door and will wait for us if we're not quite ready,she is chatty and always asks him how he is etc,will carry his bag etc.
He is happy to go her and get on the bus,he uses the same seat
I have her mobile number in case of anything and she is very good at getting back to me and passing on information from his school teachers.
I'm not sure what information they had before he started but her and the driver came to meet us at home before he started which I thought was a good idea. They have a bucket and towels on the bus in case of sickness etc.
There are 5 children and my son gets on last and is dropped off first which is great as he is still just 5.
Its quite a lively bus at times but the children are always happy.

clangermum Thu 26-May-11 18:27:52

We have a consistent escort and she always knocks on the door. DD often takes books in the car and they chat about these I think. We have the driver's mobile no. DD doesn't have to share the taxi as nobody else locally attends her school. Drivers can change but we know them all and they are all basically from the same family. We always go out of our way to ask how they are, if they had a good weekend etc. and they always reciprocate - it has just felt important to have some kind of relationship because, as you say, they are doing a really important job for us, and if she arrives unhappy at school it could throw the while day. We also have a system where we can communicate with the school via the escort, so there's consistency and DD knows that messages get passed 'up the chain'. So if she's fine when she leaves home but plays up in the taxi, for example, school will get to know about it and therefore we'll get to know about it.

cory Fri 27-May-11 08:54:14

I can relate to your experience, OP. Dd's taxi never had an escort, just a driver, and they were given zilch information. Some of the ones we've had are intelligent and sympathetic and work a lot out for themselves, but we had one last year who was clearly out of his depth.

One of the children he took was an autistic little boy who had transport because he could not be left unsupervised: the driver used to get him to trot down the road and knock on the other children's doors so he didn't have to get out of the taxi. This was a little boy who was not even allowed to walk across the school playground without a TA. When I spoke to the driver it was clear that he had been given no information whatsoever. He thought the kids got transport because they came from "problem families". That was just an accident waiting to happen.

Seems you're doing a great job, anyway. smile

ohmeohmy Fri 27-May-11 09:59:14

you sound lovely.

My ds has had school transport since age 4 (He's now 9). Luckily we have had the same excort for a few years now and she has got to know him well. There have been times when he has found the taxi overwhelming and was misbehaving. I explained a bit about why he behaves the way he does and we planned solutions that seem to work. She can be a bit moody sometimes but generally I think she does care about ds and looks after him well. When she has been off we've had a few that had no idea what they were doing and it made me nervous. Some were really elderly and would not have been able to help DS in and out of the taxi like he needs.

We have had different drivers and I think their role is safety on the road and getting from A-B. While the escort is getting the next child I think s/he should attempt to maintain order in amongst the other kids and make sure they come to no harm.

She comes and knocks on the door to get him.

clangermum Sun 29-May-11 16:12:39

maybe there's a difference between buses and taxis? Perhaps its not considered the escort's responsibility to knock on the door and collect the child personally if there's a bus full of children? Whereas our taxi pulls up on the drive and my daughter is the only passenger. Having said that I could easily be looking out and take her out as soon as I saw the taxi, it's just we've always done it this way. Each LEA probably has slightly different guidelines (if any), and on top of that each driver and escort combination probably interpret them differently.

I can imagine if you're into it, it could be a lovely job.

happyinherts Tue 14-Jun-11 20:35:13

Thanks all

I've done 3 weeks on same route filling for a lady off sick - and i've gone home and cried my heart out because they've kicked me, punched me, spat at me, told me who do I think I'm talking to, and they all hate me and they want the other lady back.

I've tried my hardest. I've shared out little toys of my own and we've talked about individual interests, but nothing seems to cut it. I'm beginning to dread the mornings, but I really really loved the job and I'm going to change route tomorrow because they've got what they want - their regular lady back.

I tried to make friends with them. This was wrong, wasn't it? I feel I've learnt nothing over the last 3 weeks. I can't win and I'm sad now

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