School transport

Using school transport: guidance for parents

Getting to and from the pick-up or drop-off point

Where transport is allocated on a public bus, contract bus or train, students are expected to make their own way to and from the pick-up and drop-off point.

For the majority of students a ‘door to door’ service is not provided and children may be expected to walk a reasonable distance to and from pick-up and drop-off points, at the beginning and end of their journey.

Parents or guardians are responsible for arranging accompaniment to and from the pick-up and drop-off point where they deem this necessary on safety grounds.

Where entitlement to transport has been awarded on the grounds of the non-availability of a walking route to school, this does not apply to the walking route to and from a pick-up and drop-off point.

At the pick-up and drop-off point

Parents or guardians are responsible for the safety and behaviour of their children when travelling to, from and at the pick-up and drop-off point.

Students should arrive at the pick-up and drop-off point 5 minutes before the advised scheduled departure time.

Students should wait for the vehicle sensibly. Reports of inappropriate behaviour at the pick-up and drop-off point will be referred to the school and dealt with accordingly. Students should be mindful that while in uniform they are representing their school.

Where a ticket has been issued, students should ensure they have this with them to allow travel on the allocated vehicle, and show it to the driver when boarding the vehicle.

When on board, students should immediately find a seat. Seat belts must be worn where provided.

Children picked-up or dropped-off at home

Parents or guardians are responsible for arranging for their children to be taken to the vehicle and collected from the vehicle.

Drivers are not required to collect children from or drop children at the door.

It is important that a responsible person is at home in the morning and afternoon when the vehicle arrives. If due to unforeseen circumstances an appropriate person is not at home, you must contact the school and transport provider as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements.

Students should be ready to board the vehicle at the specified time. If they are not, the driver will leave after a few minutes and continue the journey without them to ensure a timely arrival at school for the other passengers.

Parents or guardians are responsible for providing transport to ensure their child or children attend school.

Pick-up and drop-off times

Routes to and from school and pick-up and drop-off times are planned by the transport provider to be as efficient as possible for all students travelling on the vehicle.

Because of this, it is not possible to accommodate the individual circumstances of each family, such as work commitments or taking other children to and from school.

Parents or guardians cannot choose their own pick-up and drop-off times and there is a need to be flexible to suit the transport arrangements provided.

All contracted bus, minibus and taxi routes should be considered as a public transport service.

Transport providers are not required to accommodate breakfast clubs or after school clubs as part of the transport provision.

Unavoidable changes to pick-up and drop-off times can be unsettling, however these are likely to be an ongoing factor for students travelling on school transport throughout their education.

Journey length

Students living furthest away from the school are likely to have a longer journey time if picked-up first and dropped-off last.

When compared to travelling in a private vehicle, journey times on contracted services may be significantly longer.

In order to manage passenger numbers on each vehicle, students may be allocated to a route that does not have the shortest journey time, or the closest pick-up and drop-off location to the home address.

It is recognised that students travelling long distances to mainstream or special educational needs schools are likely to have longer journey times.

Boarding the correct service

Parents or guardians should have been given details of the transport provider for the service their children have been allocated to.

For students allocated to public bus or train services, journey information is available from Traveline.

For students allocated to contracted services the driver should know the contract number and address details of the children being transported.

Parents or guardians can ask to see the driver’s identification.

Reporting a lost or damaged ticket

Please contact your transport provider.

The transport provider may charge a fee for a replacement ticket.

If the vehicle is late

Wait at least 30 minutes before making alternative travel arrangements.

Parents or guardians and students should ensure they have the telephone number of their transport provider in case of an incident.

In the event of an incident such as a vehicle breakdown, the driver will determine if passengers should remain on board or leave the vehicle.

Students should follow driver instructions and must not leave the vehicle without permission. Any student leaving the vehicle against the driver's advice does so at their own risk.

Anti-social behaviour

Anti-social behaviour should be reported to the transport provider in the first instance. The transport provider will investigate allegations and follow a process to resolve any issues.

Should issues persist please contact the school or the School Travel Behaviour Team.

Some transport services, operating on our behalf, have CCTV installed to monitor student behaviour. This is provided for the safety and security of all passengers.

Student Travel Behaviour Team

Email: schooltravel.behaviour@essex.gov.uk
Telephone: 0345 603 2200

Infant seats and booster seats

If a child passenger restraint is required, parents or guardians are responsible for providing the appropriate equipment for their child to travel with. Please contact your transport provider to arrange this.

Responsibility for securing children into passenger restraints

This is a joint responsibility of parents or guardians and the transport provider for the morning journey. School staff will generally help in the afternoon.

It is the driver's responsibility to ensure all passengers are secure before the vehicle departs.

Changes to transport arrangements

Throughout a child’s education, travel arrangements are likely to change multiple times. This includes changes of transport provider, changes to pick-up and drop-off times and locations, changes to journey length, changes of driver, along with other passengers joining and leaving the vehicle.

Transport variations are often unavoidable and are made in response to a change of requirements.

It is recognised that changes of arrangements can be unsettling, however transport providers work with families and schools to minimise disruption.

Parents or guardians must email the Education Awards Team if their child or children are moving school or home address; a reassessment of eligibility to transport will be required.

Journeys provided are based on the home address only, and transport providers are not required to accommodate alternative addresses such as childminders, another parent or grandparents.

Education Awards Team

Email: educationawards@essex.gov.uk

Part time attendance at school or college

Transport is provided for eligible students at the normal start and end times of the school or college day. Transport is not provided to accommodate breakfast clubs, after school clubs, school trips, or specific college course timetables.

Where children are starting school and initially attending on a part time basis parents or guardians are required to make their own arrangements; lunch time journeys are not provided.

Eligible students may use the normal morning or afternoon transport if they wish.

Children with special transport requirements

When applying for transport parents or guardians should provide all relevant information about the special travel requirements of their children.

Parents or guardians are advised to discuss the travel requirements and preferences of their children with the transport provider, and pass on techniques to help with their journey.

Provision of passenger assistants

Passenger assistants are not provided on the majority of vehicles, and are only generally provided in the following circumstances.

For vehicles transporting 25 or more mainstream primary students, 1 passenger assistant will be provided. Providing a passenger assistant will not be considered for any other aspect of the journey or route for mainstream students.

For vehicles transporting students with special educational needs, one or more passenger assistants will only be provided where an assessment of an individual child or group of children has determined to have a requirement on the grounds of physical, medical, or behavioural need.

Driver and passenger assistant safeguarding checks

Transport providers must ensure that all of their employees carrying out regulated activity on Essex County Council contracted transport services have been through safeguarding checks.

The checks carried out include an enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check.

Drivers may already have an enhanced DBS check as part of their licensing requirement. Drivers of registered bus services are not designated as carrying out a regulated activity.

All passenger assistants are required to have an enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service check.

Adverse weather conditions

During snow or severe weather conditions, transport providers will communicate with parents or guardians and schools if they are unable to operate a service.

We support decisions to suspend services where travel would be considered unsafe for passengers, staff or other road users.

Transport providers take into account multiple factors when making a decision:

  • availability of staff; can they travel safely between their home and the vehicle depot
  • road conditions along the whole route, including at the vehicle depot, at all boarding or alighting points and at the school
  • pavement conditions for passengers between the boarding/alighting point and their home or school; including those with mobility issues
  • weather forecast for the rest of the day; if passengers are transported in the morning, is the afternoon return journey likely to be possible
  • buses and minibuses are often rear wheel drive, and do not handle snow as well as front or all-wheel drive vehicles

If transport is no longer required

Students may move to a different school or home address, and school transport is no longer necessary.

Parents and guardians are under no obligation to use the transport offered and may wish to make alternative travel arrangements at their own cost.

Contact the Passenger Transport team to inform them transport is no longer required.

Passenger transport

Contact Passenger Transport to check fares or purchase a scholars ticket.

Email: Passenger.Transport@essex.gov.uk
Telephone: 0345 603 2200

Complain about school transport

If you want to complain about the transport your child is receiving, you should contact the transport provider to make a complaint.

If this does not resolve the issue, you can let us know by using our complaints form.

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