Teachers, youth leaders and parents... welcome to a page designed specifically for you. Advice and information on this page has been independently sourced on behalf of Centurion Travel Ltd. When making transport arrangements for others, the law requires the organiser to be aware of their legal obligations and expects safeguards and systems to be in place for this purpose. On this page BUSK UK, leading independent advisors on transporting children and young people safely by road, provide guidance on how best to do that. For more information visit www.busk-uk.co.uk
What are the legal obligations applicable to schools when making transport arrangements for school trips and visits abroad?
Solicitor, New Law
Obtaining three quotes from a transport company and choosing the cheapest is definitely not demonstrating the correct culture and attitude to the safety of pupils in a school's care. The law requires a school to provide a 'safe journey'. An adequate written risk assessment that clearly identifies any risks to passengers and shows how potential risks will be reduced is crucial. Risk assessments do not have to be onerous and once completed should be re-visited once a year to re-assess standards. This specific risk assessment is not about the activity or purpose of the trip. This risk assessment is about:
The standard and type of transport used.
Qualifications and experience of the driver (when it is necessary for two drivers to be hired for longer trips to comply with Drivers' Hours Regulations).
Route to be travelled.
Forward planning including emergency plans in the event of breakdown, accident or illness.
SCHOOLS MAY CONTACT BUSK FOR FREE HELP AND ADVICE ON HOW TO PRODUCE A TRANSPORT/SEAT BELT POLICY. MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE REQUIREMENTS OF SCHOOLS WHEN ORGANISING SCHOOL TRIPS AND VISITS ABROAD CAN BE FOUND AT WWW.BUSK-UK.COM.
Every school should have a Transport Document that includes a Seat Belt Policy, clearly detailing how seat belt wearing will be enforced. Safety advice given to the school by the coach company must be taken seriously. Once on board a coach it is the driver that is in charge and not the teacher. Schools must adhere to a transport company’s safety rules and instructions just in the same way that they would when travelling by sea or with an airline. This is a legal requirement. Schools must be aware of and adhere to seat belt legislation in all respects. For clarification please contact BUSK directly.
What are the consequences for schools that do not fulfill a legal duty of care for pupils and others in their care on a school trip or visit abroad?
In 2006 Corporate Manslaughter Laws were amended to make it easier for courts to successfully prosecute transport companies, local authorities and schools who failed in a legal duty of care to protect others. Where it can be shown that a school has failed to take adequate care in making transport arrangements for pupils and as a consequence it can be proven that this resulted in the death of a pupil, then the school's management team could be found guilty of Corporate Manslaughter. This could result in a large fine and courts have the power to give a school a Publicity Order, effectively ordering the school to advertise in the media that they had been found responsible for a child's death.
This information has been prepared by BUSK and approved by Mike Imperato of New Law Solicitors. The advice given would be no less than a court would ask and expect to see if a legal action was taken against a school should something go wrong. A court would expect a governing body of a school to have an audit trail defining transport arrangements and what method was selected when it came to hiring transport.
Choosing the cheapest company will not satisfy a court that the school had done everything necessary to fulfill a duty of care for the pupils.
Coach travel is comparatively safe when hiring from a reputable operator that observes all the safety rules and meet compliance requirements but it is teachers and governors who are required to provide a 'safe journey'. Parents trust schools to make transport arrangements for their children based on safety criteria and not one of cost.
What is Benchmark?
BUSK Benchmark is the first and only completely independent star rating for the minibus and coach industry based on safety and legal compliance. Companies listed on this website undergo two independent audits to check how the company is run, what systems are in place to safeguard passengers and to what standard drivers are trained. Checks are made when a company applies to join and every three years after that. All companies are subject to a random spot check.
Why is there a need for Benchmark?
Most of us will have heard of Scores On The Doors, a local authority initiative that gives a 0 to 5 rating for food hygiene standards for restaurants and take-aways. This means you can choose to eat from an outlet where you know the hygiene standard will be high or low. It is your choice. Would you risk eating from an outlet with a zero rating if you knew it meant there was a cause for concern and the local authority were pressing them to raise their stanards to protect your health? Perhpas not.
When it comes to hiring transport, schools often tell BUSK that a coach company would not be trading and have a license if it was not operating safely. If you think about the zero rated take-away and how it is still able to operate because the local authority continue to allow them to, it is important to realise that just because an operator has a license does not mean they are necessarily operating legally and safely. Every week in the trade press the court reports will back this up.
Operators that flaunt the law put everyone at risk. By not maintaining the fleet safely, they can afford to cut costs and consistently offer cheaper coach hire. If you would not eat from a zero rated take-away for the good of your health, then why would you choose to hire a company that does not maintain its fleet safely because this can put your life at risk or the lives of children you make transport arrangements for.
This is why there is a need for Benchmark. In fact, it was coach operators that asked BUSK to introduce the scheme. All operators listed with us will welcome you through their doors to check their compliance records. They have nothing to hide.