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Bullying


BUSK and Kidscape work in partnership to help reduce bullying on home to school transport.

For Kidcape advice, parents and carers please visit: https://kidscape.org.uk/advice/advice-for-parents-and-carers/bullying-on-school-journeys-advice-for-parents-and-carers/

BUSK advice for parents/carers about home to school tranport provison

If you have a child travelling on a bus, coach or minibus to and from school each day someone will have a legal responsibility to provide them with a safe journey. 'Safe journey' is a legal term.  If a school or local authority contracts a vehicle or provides a bus pass for your child it is the school or local authority that will have that legal responsibility.

What must they do?

A school or local authority must ensure your child is safe when they travel on transport they contract or pay for. This means that the journey must be risk assessed for:

  1. Vehicle suitability
  2.  Route safety
  3. Safety at bus stops and boarding and alighting points
  4. Protection offered to occupants during the journey such as safety belt provision, adult supervision for special needs or primary aged pupils
  5. Adequate policy to reduce bad behaviour, driver distraction, bullying and emergency plans

This page is about bullying, so if you have concerns about home to school transport, other than  bullying please visit other pages on our site to find what you are looking for or contact us directly for free advice and help. If your child is bullied and the school or local authority do not deal with this promptly or effectively let us know.  Legally, your child is entitled to travel on a bus or coach without fear or stress of being bullied or threatened in any way. It is an offence to make any passenger feel or believe their safety is compromised in any respect.  If a school or local authority do not act quickly, then they could be failing to discharge a legal duty of care for your child. This is just not acceptable. It is not good for a school or authority to state that they have a bully policy if it is not effective or put into practice to prevent bullying.  

From a practical look at a situation, it is important to tell your child it is not their fault. Develop a system or plan to help them with the journey - this is where Kidscape's advice is crucial so please look at their top tips for parents. In addition to this, make notes of times, dates, names of anyone involved in any incidents. If your child is able to secure witnesses then that will help when building your case to ensure the local authority and/or school act.  You can also inform the police, make an official complaint and get a log number.  Above all else, make sure you keep a open dialog with your child to  reassure them and take all the advice that is on offer from BUSK and Kidscape.  You can contact Kidscape or BUSK at either time.  Kidscape has the expertise surrounding bullying, how to tackle it and methods to help bring it to an end. BUSK has the expertise on dealing with transport providers such as schools and local authorities and will have the information you might need about the legalities of who is responsible for what and the reason why. Our services are free. We are here to help.

Training for drivers on the school run...

NOTE: BUSK has written a bespoke training course for drivers on the school run. The course is JAUPT approved for the Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) training that all PSV drivers have to undergo.  The law requires all PSV drivers to undertake 35 hours of additional training every three years. BUSK's course is called Protecting Drivers & Pupils on the School Run. It was developed specifically for the school run young people that experience bullying on their daily journey to and from school.

Protecting Drivers & Pupils on the School Run aims to do what the title suggests and that is to protect both drivers and pupils, to prevent bullying but importantly  to also help pupils of any age feel safer on their journey. The course will leave drivers more confident in recognising when there may be a problem during the journey and how to report it to get the appropriate help for the young person.  This course has been endorsed by Kidscape and the Vodden family, whose son, Ben took his own life after being bullied on his school bus.  

If you think your child's transport provider should be using this course as part of their legally required CPC training modules, please let us know or tell the the transport company, the school or the local authority about it. The course is designed to protect everyone! See our Training page on this site for more details about the course content which can be printed off and given to any school transport stake holder.

For more information on help that is available, please contact us on 01633 274944 or email buskuk@uwclub.net.

Tips for grandparents who want to help their grandchildren who may be on the receiving end of more than one type of bullying. Follow this link to get expert advice from Kidscape.
https://www.kidscape.org.uk/resources/resources-for-parents-and-carers/grandparent-guide-to-bullying-and-digital-safety/

The Vodden Family's son, Ben, took his own life when he could no longer cope with being bullied on his school bus.  Paul Vodden has campaigned for years to make the bus and coach industry more a ware of the issues drivers face on the school run and carried out a survey amongst drivers.  For a copy of the Vodden Report visit this link:
https://www.kidscape.org.uk/media/1152/the_vodden_report_final.pdf 

This is Paul Vodden's message to parents...

Our 11 year old son, Ben, took his life after being bullied on the school bus.  Of course, those involved initially were his peers but the thing that took it over the edge for Ben was that the bus driver a “responsible” adult joined in.  I know this will horrify but, just think about it, the only adult on most coaches that take children to and from school is the driver and we tacitly expect them to supervise the behaviour of their passengers.  However, quite clearly, they cannot do a job that requires all their concentration, driving the bus, and adequately undertake a supervisory role.  Not only that but they will usually have had no training in how to handle any situation let alone difficult ones, such as bullying, that children will present with.  I am not aware of any other situation where children are in a confined space without any sort of meaningful supervision.

Although what Ben did is extremely unusual (but not unique) children experience many stages of unhappiness that do not end in suicide.  They have every right not to be put in a position of vulnerability.  Furthermore, it is equally unfair of us to expect drivers to undertake a task for which they are likely to have had no training and whilst they are already doing a difficult job.

Having undertaken two surveys, one of children and one of bus drivers, it is clear to me that bullying on the school bus is a serious and significant issue.  It is also clear that drivers do not want the job of supervising children, after all they are drivers.

Research indicates that individuals who experience bullying at school can suffer the effects into their 50’s.  Bullying is not something to be taken lightly and it is essential that measures are taken to ensure that it is dealt with swiftly and effectively on school buses.

Schools, bus companies and local authorities must ensure that measures are in place which mean that bullying is identified speedily and dealt with effectively.  Part of this would be to ensure that drivers receive training in identifying when bullying occurs so that it can be reported and stopped.  Supervision on the bus must also be provided perhaps by good, well managed CCTV or by the presence of a responsible, trained adult other than the driver.

Bullying is a blight on our society and its long term affects must not be underestimated.  That it takes place on the school bus is beyond doubt and action is required to deal with it.

Paul Vodden

September 2018