Do you have an appointed School Transport Manager? Whose title and contract actually include details of their responsibilities when it comes to minibus management? No?

Who looks after your school minibuses? Is it just a collective of drivers? The office manager or administrator who just really manages the keys? Who takes care of the admin for insurance, training, bookings, permits, licencing and MOTs?

Schools Transport Manager

All that management and the responsibility for it if done properly, takes time and the person or people required to fulfil that role will require training to understand the school’s obligations under the legal framework within which they operate. This level of training and knowledge is not just a ‘nice to have’ there are legal requirements involved in running minibuses under a Section 19 Permit; drivers need to be made aware of their responsibilities, checks need to take place and be documented daily/before each journey, 10 week safety inspections are required. Failures in these areas can lead to vehicle prohibition, prosecution or worse still an accident.

Castle and the ISBA created the MCC (Minibus Compliance Course) with this important message in mind: It is imperative that schools across England appoint a designated transport manager who are trained and employed by the school to effectively and continually manage their vehicles and drivers.

Responsibilities of a school transport manager

A school transport manager, alone or in partnership with another person, will oversee the operation of vehicles used to transport students, and the drivers on behalf of the school and therefore will need to ensure that they;

1.Manage, audit and review compliance systems to ensure they are effective

2.Review any shortcomings such as prohibitions and/or annual test failures

3.Keep up to date on relevant changes in standards and legislation

4.Action any relevant changes in accordance with the Section 19 Permit requirements

5.Keep driver admin up to date regarding correct licensing, training and insurance

6.Ensure drivers complete daily checks and arrange remedial work

7.Arrange 10 safety inspections

8.Ensure working/driving time records are correctly kept

9.Help or plan journeys and the safety equipment needed

10.Ensure drivers are aware of their responsibilities and the penalties for failing to do so

11.Manage driver ‘fitness to drive’.

These are just a few of the tasks required of a school transport manager.

What help is available for school transport managers?

The MCC was developed in consultation with Beverley Bell, former Senior Traffic Commissioner and consultant in compliance and governance in the industry, to give legal clarity to the conflicting recommendations and guidance surrounding school minibus operations. It was in consultation with Beverley that it became abundantly clear that schools must appoint a school transport manager, a role that needs to be confirmed in writing with a written contract, so they have the responsibility and more importantly the respect and authority to apply any changes needed to ensure their school is safe and compliant where minibuses are concerned.

The MCC therefore is delivered in two parts to ensure attendance will result in action;

MCC Part One; A one-day course covering the following four key areas:

1.The legal minefield: The permits and licences which you operate under – depending on the status of your drivers and the type of school you work for including who has the responsibility for legal compliance.

2.Vehicles: The differences in driving a minibus and the challenges teacher-drivers face, best practice weekly and daily minibus checks and required safety inspections.

3.Drivers: The driver’s responsibilities are as well as the schools and the penalties you and the school could face if you don’t fulfil them.

4.The journey: Things you need to consider when planning journeys and emergency protocols.

MCC Part two; A half-day assessment

After attending MCC part one your appointed school transport manager will have an on-site half day assessment from a highly qualified approved driving instructor. The MCC material and assessment should provide the basis for a minibus safety system that is auditable and fully compliant.

The MCC course is available for £595* plus vat (£495* for ISBA members and associate members) *Please note additional travel and accommodation charges may apply dependent on location.

It was the aim of all involved when developing the MCC that the school transport manager’s role needs to become a title as well-known and respected as ‘Designated Safeguarding Lead’ and minibus operations are given the training, consideration and gravitas needed to keep schools, their staff and pupils both safe and compliant.

Castle Minibus Managing Director

Chris Maynard MD of Castle Minibus concludes ‘This is not just a ‘chalk and talk’ approach but will include a follow up visit to your school and your appointed school transport manager to ensure they understood and have started to implement learning from part 1’s course material. We anticipate this will not only become a recognised ‘minibus safety system’ which will be auditable and fully compliant but will become the basis of a case to reduce your insurance premiums and other related costs currently paid by schools.’

The RoSPA approved and ISBA recommended MCC is now available for bookings through the Castle Minibus website www.castlemininbus.co.uk or by calling Castle on 01869 253744.