Safeguarding children on school transport along with guidance for drivers and passenger assistants.
Information for drivers and passenger assistants
We can't cover everything that you may encounter on a day to day basis, but if you are not sure about anything you can always ask Suffolk passenger transport or ask your employer to contact us.
The first time you meet the parents/carers, introduce yourself and ask if there is anything you should know about the person whilst they are in your care.
Each day you should try and liaise with the parents/carer/centre to see if there is anything you should know about the person that will affect their travel.
Passenger assistants and drivers should work together as a team to ensure that the people for whom you are responsible have a comfortable, safe and stress free journey.
Both passenger assistant and driver should agree in advance on how to handle any exceptional or unexpected difficulties.
All drivers and passenger assistants will be checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (CloseDisclosure and Barring Service), and passenger assistants will need to attend an information day.
You should wear smart, casual and comfortable clothing that is appropriate for the role.
Wearing flat shoes can help you avoid ankle injuries and minimal body jewellery can help avoid accidents involving items being caught on clothing or students pulling on them.
Although it's the driver’s responsibility to operate tail lifts and wheelchair clamps, passenger assistants must ensure they have an understanding of how this and other safety equipment works.
If a child is too big for a car seat or harness, let Suffolk passenger transport know.
Make sure seats are fitted correctly.
Parent/carer not at home
In the event that no one is at home when you return in the afternoon, on no account must a passenger be left alone or with a neighbour.
Prior arrangements with the parents/carers are therefore essential.
- ring the school so that they can contact the parent/carer immediately
- if there are other passengers on the vehicle they should be returned home first and then the vehicle should return
- if there is still no-one at home, contact Customer First on 0808 800 4005 or the police in an emergency
- it's the responsibility of parent/carer to take the passenger to and from the vehicle, although there may be occasions when this is not possible
- always pick up and drop off at the arranged address
- waiting time should be limited to approximately 5 minutes
- always display your identity badge
Accidents, breakdowns and emergencies
In the event of a breakdown or if a passenger is taken ill, you must act to ensure the safety of all your passengers:
- pull over to a safe spot on the road and switch on headlights and hazard warning lights
- call immediately for an ambulance if any of your passengers need medical help. If an ambulance is summoned be concise and accurate about the location of the incident
- make the passenger comfortable and ensure that they are not at further risk
- assess whether it is safe for passengers to stay on the vehicle until help arrives
- in the event of a breakdown summon help from your company/breakdown organisation
- if your vehicle is causing a serious obstruction, summon the police
- don't allow passengers off the vehicle unless there is a serious risk to them if they remained on board
- consider your own safety, put on high visibility before leaving the vehicle
- if passengers must be taken off the vehicle they should (if possible) use the nearside door and move to the front of the vehicle or to a safe area
- passengers should not cross lanes of traffic or be put at further risk
- enlist any nearby help or responsible passengers to ensure that everyone stays safe while you deal with the incident
- once you are satisfied that passengers are safe, advise your employer and the school or day care centre so that parents and carers can be informed
- contact Suffolk passenger transport to advise them of the incident
- don't attempt even simple repairs, wait for help and ensure the safety of all passengers
Advice for drivers
- be punctual
- only stop at the designated pick-up or set-down point
- keep the door(s) closed until the bus is at a complete stand still
- hazard lights should be used when passengers are boarding or alighting
- check that no bags or clothing are caught in the door when closed
- where seat belts are fitted, always request that the passengers use them
- don't drive away until all the passengers are seated
- on school transport the school bus signs should only be used when transporting pupils. When in use ensure they are displayed in an appropriate position
- always park so that passengers alight on the footway and not on the carriageway
- please be aware that if you are transporting school age children, your clothing, behaviour and language must all be appropriate
- on school transport you should park on the same side of the road as the school entrance unless this is impossible
- beware of passengers running back for items they may have left on the vehicle
- if passengers have to exit by the rear of a minibus you should supervise this operation
- reversing in and around schools should only be attempted when absolutely necessary and preferably with guidance
- bad behaviour should be reported to the school and a record kept
- you should know how to use the fire extinguisher and first aid kit
In the course of your work your passengers may choose to talk to you about something which concerns them.
It is important that you:
- never promise to keep a secret
- always take what the person says seriously
- listen but don't ask any questions
- tell the person that you will have to tell someone
- report and record all concerns, incidents of inappropriate and disruptive behaviour to the school, operator or the Council
- be friendly but remember not to make particular favourites
- if you are ever concerned about the welfare of a passenger, contact Customer First on 0808 800 4005 or dial 999 for police in an emergency or 101 for police for a non-emergency situation
- when a passenger is hurt or falls and physical contact is necessary, always report incidents to the school/centre and record them with your employer
- be aware of how your actions may look when seen by someone from the outside
- If you are in any doubt about how your action may appear to an objective observer then don’t do it
Abuse must be reported
- physical e.g. shaking, slapping, pushing, kicking someone
- sexual e.g. any sexual activity that the person does not want, understand or agree to
- psychological/emotional e.g. threats of harm or abandonment or humiliation, intimidation or verbal abuse
- financial e.g. stealing someone’s money or denying them access to their money or possessions
- neglect e.g. ignoring someone’s medical or care needs, or withholding food, drink or aids to daily living
- discriminatory e.g. abusive remarks or actions regarding a person’s age, race, religion, sex or abilities
- domestic abuse e.g. emotional and physical violence, bullying, threats, mental and verbal abuse, financial and social control over one person by another within the home or family
- professional abuse e.g. the misuse of power and abuse of trust by professionals, the failure of professionals to act on suspected abuse/crimes, poor care practice or neglect in services
- institutional abuse e.g. involves the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to vulnerable people
Code of practice - do's & don'ts
- dress appropriately
- report any incident that is out of the ordinary
- keep to the agreed timetable and route when transporting passengers, especially when alone
- call the passenger by their name (not darling, sweetheart, love or other ‘familiar words’)
- maintain clear, appropriate boundaries and be professional
- report any concerns about a passenger’s behaviour
- be aware that some passengers may require extra help and time due to disabilities and medical conditions
- record and report all incidents of inappropriate or disruptive behaviour without delay via your employer. Where possible the journey should be completed, but in the case of a serious incident the vehicle should be stopped and the emergency services called
- report any concerns you have that one of your passengers shows signs of abuse
- exchange mobile phone numbers, email addresses, full names, home addresses etc
- buy or give food or drink to passengers
- accept or give gifts to passengers or parents/carers
- use bad or inappropriate language
- engage in conversation of a personal nature
- enter in to any contact via multimedia i.e. Facebook
- take pictures of passengers under any circumstances
- allow children to sit in the front of the vehicle
- enter into any kind of relationship or have social contact with the passenger or their family
- make unnecessary physical contact
- allow food or drink on the vehicle
- become involved in an argument. If challenged, please give them the Suffolk passenger transport telephone number
- leave the vehicle unattended
- accept transport changes from your passenger, these must come through your office, via passenger transport
- be afraid to ask for help. If a passengers behaviour is causing a problem, don’t struggle alone. Ask the school/centre/or your employer for advice or contact Suffolk passenger transport
Who to contact
You should contact your employer who can then liaise with Suffolk County Council passenger transport, schools or other agencies.
Safeguarding Guidance & Advice Leaflet (PDF, 109KB)
What steps do Suffolk County Council take to ensure that transport providers meet the requirements of schools in respect to safeguarding?
The Passenger Transport Unit (ClosePassenger transport unit) firstly requires that any company seeking to tender for work must apply to be on a list of approved suppliers.
This is the first stage in assuring CloseSuffolk County Council that the company is reputable and covered by all necessary legislation and insurances.
Only companies on this list may tender for contracts issued by the ClosePassenger transport unit.
All contracts issued by the ClosePassenger transport unit are bound by the Terms and Conditions of Contract. Clause 8 specifies requirements in respect of CloseDisclosure and Barring Service clearance and other conditions relating to staff employed on the contract.
It is the Employers responsibility to ensure that their staff has the necessary checks in place before allowing them to work on CloseSuffolk County Council routes in accordance with the terms of their contract.
Currently all contracts where children or vulnerable adults are transported (or where they may potentially be carried) are subject to this condition which is specified on all tender documents.
How is this monitored?
The contractor is required to provide the ClosePassenger transport unit with a list of all drivers and passenger assistants who may potentially assist in delivering the contract.
Depending on the type of transport, different processes are in place to ensure that all these staff have cleared the necessary checks.
What are these different processes?
In the case of taxi drivers the ClosePassenger transport unit must be assured that the driver is properly licensed by the district authority. In order to be licensed they must have cleared the CloseDisclosure and Barring Service process.
In the case of bus drivers, passenger assistants and community transport drivers, the check is carried out by the ClosePassenger transport unit. When this is satisfactorily completed a photo ID badge is issued.
In all of the above cases no person is allowed to deliver the contract until such times as all the checks have been completed.
A secure database of all approved drivers and passenger assistants is maintained by the ClosePassenger transport unit.
Does this mean that all staff have no convictions?
No, some CloseDisclosure and Barring Service disclosures may have criminal convictions disclosed.
What happens in these cases?
There is a strict procedure in place to examine any criminal convictions to determine if there is any risk arising from them.
In these cases the applicant may be asked to provide further details of the convictions in writing, at an interview, or both.
This evidence is then assessed by a panel of at least three senior officers in the ClosePassenger transport unit and a decision reached on the suitability of the applicant.
For contracts issued under our Dynamic Purchasing System the terms and conditions set out in more detail how we consider each type of offence. (see appendix B of this document - DPS Terms and Conditions)
In cases where there is doubt the matter is referred to the Safeguarding team for advice and guidance.
What happens after this?
In some cases the applicant may be advised that they are unsuitable and may be given a time period after which they can re-apply and be considered again. This time period will be dependant on the nature of the offence disclosed.
In other cases it may be decided that the nature of the offence precludes the applicant from working on contracts.
In both cases the applicant will be advised of this in writing and (if different) the employer will also be advised of the decision.
Is anything else done after this?
Monitoring checks are carried out at schools to ensure that employees are on the database.
As a contract condition Passenger assistants must also attend training days where safeguarding matters may be on the agenda.
A guidance leaflet has also been produced for drivers and passenger assistants with approval and input from the Safeguarding team. This gives advice on best practice and what to do in the event of problems.
Should the ClosePassenger transport unit be advised by the police of subsequent convictions that are related to the employment the case would be reopened and further evidence requested to establish if the employee is still suitable.
Depending on the severity of the offence the employee may be temporarily suspended from the contract pending the outcome.
In all cases the Contract terms reserve the right of the ClosePassenger transport unit to remove a person from the work and failure to comply with this term can result in the termination of the contract.