Castle have trained over 350 school staff on their Minibus Compliance Course and one of the biggest issues transport managers face is that staff ‘don’t have the time’ to check their vehicles before they take them out. The problem is also the fact that teachers and staff may not realise that they as the driver are liable for fines, points and even prosecution if the vehicle is not roadworthy. A bald tyre on a minibus can cost the driver, not the school in the region of £2500.
So, in reality how long does, or should, a basic walk-around take? Head of Driver Training, Cliff Kelly demonstrates a full, weekly walk-around check in this video:
This short video covers every element in what we would suggest is a weekly check, and with Cliff’s ‘pieces to camera’ is only 9 minutes long. So, if a more in-depth check takes just 10 minutes it’s feasible that a more basic check, without having to open the bonnet, will take much less time. If the School Transport Manager or designated responsible person is completing this in-depth check weekly (or even daily), the driving staff should just need to conduct their pre-use or critical checks which we call the dirty-dozen and can be different depending on your priorities.
At the MCC delegates are asked to go and check the minibus on site and then between them decide on the twelve most important checks that they will take back to their teachers to complete pre-journey which won’t take more than a couple of minutes, but that they feel are the most important and need to be checked before every journey.
Typically, in the top twelve are:
- Tyres – 1.6m minimum tread
- Windscreen undamaged
- No scrapes or dents on bodywork
- All Lights – clean and working
- Back doors unlocked
- Fire extinguisher & first aid kit
- No warning lights on dash
- Screen wash levels
- Mirrors intact and working
- Fuel for the journey
- Section 19 Permit is displayed
Section 19 Permit requirements
The Section 19 Permit requires schools to complete regular walk-around checks and 10 weekly safety inspections (6 weeks for vehicles over 12 years old) so schools need to be keeping records of daily and weekly checks to not only protect teachers, but to maintain safety standard and remain compliant.
A safe system of reporting minibus walk-around checks should be in place and records should be kept for 15 months.
Ten-minute weekly walk-around checks
If you follow the advice in the video above, your weekly walk-around checks will be conducted according to best practice and government advice in just nine to ten minutes per minibus and daily or pre-journey checks in around 2-3 minutes.
The weekly walk-around should be conducted by The School Transport Manager, or person designated the role of managing the safety of the school minibuses. Again, records of the reports should be kept for 15 months, and all actions taken accordingly.
Minibus walk-around checks are part of a safe, legal and compliant school transport management system.
Minibus compliance advice and training
Compliance is key to managing safe and legal minibuses and drivers, which is why we have laid out simple guidelines and advice on our website’s Minibus Compliance pages.
Our RoSPA approved MCC (Minibus Compliance Course) was developed and written in consultation with former Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain, Beverley Bell and ISBA COO, John Murphie. The course guides schools through four key areas of compliance and advises on the safe and legal operation of school transportation and record keeping. This is part one of the two-part course and takes place in a classroom environment.
‘Absolutely brilliant course, informative, knowledgeable and pleasant trainers. Highly recommended and good value for money’ – Christine Munroe, Woodside Academy
The MCC can be followed up with the Green Light Assessment, an on-site visit to your School Transport Manager and minibuses to further support the implementation of processes discussed in the classroom.
Attendance on Castle’s MCC and completion of the Green Light Assessment entitles you to a discretionary 10% discount on your insurance premiums through Castle Minibus as you will have proven your commitment to safer drivers and will have an increased awareness of safety issues.
Book your Minibus Compliance Course today or call our friendly team 01869 253744 to find out more.