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School Transport Guide
This guide has been produced to provide parents and pupils with useful information
about school transport in South Ayrshire.
South Ayrshire Council as an Education Authority currently manages 8 secondary schools,
44 primary schools, 3 special schools and 32 pre-5 establishments. There are over
17000 children attending schools within the Council and approximately 3400 are transported
to and from school on a daily basis.
In law it is the parents' responsibility to ensure that their children attend school
and make suitable travel arrangements for them. However where children attend and
live more than the specified walking distance from their catchment school the Council
will assist with school travel by making available free school transport for all
or part of the journey.
This guide sets out
- Ways in which parents can help ensure that the journey to/from school is safe and
- The responsibilities of the Council, Transport Contractors, Schools, Parents and
- General information about the Council's school transport policy.
Who Arranges The Transport?
Following the approval of an application the Council will make the necessary transport
arrangements. The details of those pupils who qualify are added to a shared database.
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) undertakes the organising, awarding
and monitoring of school contracts on behalf of South Ayrshire Council. SPT use
the information held within the shared database to put in place the required contracts.
Who Provides The Vehicles?
Almost all of the contracts are operated by external contractors who, through statutory
tendering procedures, have been successful in securing the work. The vehicles used
on each contract will take account of:
- the numbers of children;
- the area;
- the registered bus service available.
Contracts are normally awarded for a 3 year period commencing at the start of the
school session. They can be either dedicated school contracts or local registered
services or a combination of both.
Parents should be aware that not all vehicles are required by law to have seat belts
fitted and it is not always possible from casual observation to identify which vehicles
are required to have seat belts fitted i.e. it is dependant on the weight and speed
of the vehicle and whether or not it is used to provide a registered local bus service.
South Ayrshire Council's conditions of contract require all vehicles of 16 passenger
seats or less to have seat belts fitted.
What Else Is Provided?
Attendants are provided on double decker vehicles only and escorts are provided
on the majority of vehicles transporting children with additional support needs.
The Council will be responsible for identifying the training needs of escorts.
How Do I Know Who The Contractor Is For My Child?
Usually parents apply for free school transport shortly after registering their
child for primary education or when transferring from primary to secondary school.
The bulk of the applications are received around this time and you will normally
be notified of the result of your application by the end of June. SPT operate a
fully staffed help line during the period June to September to provide details to
those parents who are unfamiliar with the transport arrangements. Please bear in
mind that the details of some contracts may not be available from the help line
staff until closer to the start of the session. The reason for this is the lengthy
statutory procedures for the award of contracts.
In most cases parents will already be aware of the pick up points through their
local knowledge and if the contract term is not in its first year the school will
already have given you the details.
For applications at all other times you should be notified of the result of your
application within 3 weeks. The SPT help line number is still operational but is
not fully staffed and therefore you are advised to contact the Children and Community Department in the first instance.
What Checks Are Made On The Contractor?
All drivers, attendants and escorts are checked through the Disclosure Scotland
and an authorised officer within the Children and Community Department determines
What Are The Responsibilities Of The Council?
The Council has a common law duty of care for the safety and well being of pupils
throughout the school day including the time spent on school transport. The Council
is responsible for such disciplinary measures as may be necessary to maintain acceptable
behaviour and schools have the right to suspend or withdraw a child's free transport
if necessary in order to maintain discipline.
Once a pupil has boarded the bus the Council assumes responsibility for his/her
safety. However, this responsibility is only accepted if pupils follow the specified
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CONTRACTOR?
The transport operator is responsible for taking reasonable care of the children
on the transport vehicle. This includes the safe operation of the vehicle on the
road, supervising boarding and alighting and reporting misbehaviour to the school.
Children will not be put off the vehicle, but the driver will report incidents to
the school to enable the Head Teacher to take appropriate action. The pick up and
drop off point in the rural areas will normally be at the farm road end.
Guidelines issued to the drivers emphasise their prime responsibility towards the
safety of the vehicle on the road, but also asks for their co-operation in identifying
and reporting misbehaviour. A driver is not responsible for discipline, but may:
- Instruct pupils how to behave;
- Ask for a name and address, and withdraw a bus pass as proof of identity;
- Report misbehaviour to a school for further action;
- Turn the bus and return to the school for serious misbehaviour to be dealt with;
- Drive to a police station for police assistance.
In the event of vandalism to the bus the operator is also entitled to expect financial
compensation from the pupil concerned or their parents, and could report the matter
to the police.
Contractors sometimes issue passes to pupils to easily identify those pupils who
are entitled to free school transport.
What Are My
Responsibilities As A Parent?
Parents are ultimately responsible for the behaviour of their children at all times,
including whilst the children are in school and on school transport. The school
should involve the parents at an early stage in any disciplinary measures which
are considered necessary. If a school suspends a child's free transport then parents
will require to make their own school travel arrangements at their own expense.
Parents are responsible for getting their children safely to and from the transport
pick-up and drop off points. Young children should be accompanied until parents
are confident that they can manage safely without supervision. Parents are also
responsible for the supervision of their children as necessary at the pick-up point.
Parents who meet children off a bus should give the driver a clear hand signal to
indicate that they want the vehicle to stop, and wait on the same side of the road
as the bus so that the child is not tempted to run across the road to meet them.
Parents should be aware that where circumstances are such, that alternative arrangements
need to be made i.e. emergencies, every effort will be made to notify parents/guardian/pupils
as quickly as possible by the most appropriate method of communication. Where the
alternative arrangements affect secondary pupils it is not always possible to contact
the parents. Parents are therefore advised during periods of inclement weather to
ensure that their child is made aware of the possible alternative arrangements should
they be unable to get to school or are returned home early.
Until a child has boarded a bus in the morning and from the moment the child alights
from the bus in the afternoon the parents are responsible for their safety.
Parents are also responsible at all times for the conduct and behaviour of their
children in school, on school transport and in the street. Parents are therefore
encouraged to support disciplinary measures taken by the school.
What Are My Responsibilites
As A Pupil?
Parents should take all reasonable steps to ensure that their child follows these
Getting to and from the pick up point
- Leave home in good time so that there is no need to rush. Remember that transport
runs to a timetable and will not wait for pupils who are not there on time;
- Use the pavement if there is one. Where there is no pavement, walk facing on-coming
- Wear something bright in the dark or bad weather so that motorists can see you;
- Dress warmly in case there is an unexpected wait;
- Give the driver a clear hand signal to indicate that you want the vehicle to stop;
- Stand well clear of the edge of the road whilst waiting for the bus, especially
as the bus arrives;
- Pupils must not push and shove to get onto the bus first - someone could be pushed
under the wheels!
- Let other passengers off before boarding;
- Have bus passes if issued ready to show the driver;
- Use the bus to which they have been allocated. A bus driver is entitled to refuse
to take pupils who are not allocated to his vehicle;
- Never run alongside the bus whilst it is moving;
- If the bus does not come within 15 minutes of the scheduled time it may be assumed
that it is not coming due to road conditions or a breakdown;
- Parents should always ensure that unaccompanied pupils can return home or make their
own way safely to another house if the transport should fail to operate.
- After alighting, wait until the vehicle has moved away before crossing the road.
Travelling on the bus
- Take a seat and fasten the seat belt if there is one;
- Stay in their seat and should not keep changing seats during the journey;
- Not stand on the platform adjacent to the driver, talk to the driver or otherwise
distract him whilst the bus is moving;
- Treat the driver and other passengers with respect;
- Obey the driver's instructions;
- Never throw anything within the bus, play with the emergency door or the bells;
- Never leave the bus until it has stopped. If the door is operated by the driver
pupils must not use the emergency controls themselves - they are provided only for
- Give your name and address or bus pass to the bus driver or attendant if requested
- Keep their bus pass safe as parents will be charged for replacements.
Smoking is prohibited on all school and public buses for the health of all bus users.
What Happens If Pupils Do Not Follow The Rules?
Schools have the right to apply sanctions for misbehaviour on transport in exactly
the same way as if the misbehaviour occurred in school. If misbehaviour is very
serious or persists after a warning the school may also suspend the provision of
free transport for a period of time. If free school transport has been withdrawn
parents will be responsible for making travel arrangements to ensure that the children
continues to attend school (unless the pupil has also been excluded from school).
Who Do I Contact If I Want More Information Or Wish To Make A Complaint?
Should parents wish to complain about the transport they are receiving they are
advised to contact the school who have complaints postcards or contact the Children and Community Department at the following address.
Tel: (01292) 612284
Fax: (01292) 612258