Publication - Advice and guidance

School transport guidance 2021

Published: 2 Sep 2021
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Education, Transport

This document updates the guidance to local authorities about the provision of school transport and replaces the School Transport Guidance Circular issued in 2003 (Circular No 7/2003 ).

School transport guidance 2021
Section 3 - Safety of Pupils

Section 3 - Safety of Pupils

29. Local authorities have a responsibility to ensure the safety of pupils travelling on school transport. There are a range of guidance and advice materials available which local authorities may find helpful in shaping their transport services, including 'Health and Safety on Educational Excursions' [15] and 'Minibus Safety – A Code of Practice'.[16]

3.1 - Pupil supervision and behaviour on school transport

30. Inappropriate behaviour can take a variety of forms and jeopardise individual safety or, in the case of bullying, undermine pupils' willingness to use school transport. The safety of pupils using school transport, particularly when boarding and alighting a bus, could be jeopardised as a direct consequence of inappropriate behaviour. Parents and school staff have a key role in encouraging pupils to behave responsibly whilst on school transport. For example, local authorities and/or schools may wish to develop a Code of Conduct for pupils travelling on school transport to support efforts to improve behaviour.

31. In November 2017, the Scottish Government published updated anti-bullying guidance entitled 'Respect for All: The National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland's Children and Young People'[17]. This guidance is for everyone working with children and young people and provides a holistic approach to anti-bullying. The guidance applies to bullying incidents which would include those that take place travelling to and from school, such as on school transport.

32. The Scottish Government expects that all schools develop and implement an anti-bullying policy, which should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. The policy should indicate how any issues of bullying will be raised and how incidents will be dealt with and recorded. Schools, local authorities and transport providers should work together to ensure the safety of children and young people on school transport.

33. Respectme[18], Scotland's national anti-bullying service, provides direct support to local authorities, youth groups, and all those working with children and young people on preventing and addressing bullying effectively.

34. Children and young people should be educated about the harms of substance misuse, both to themselves and others, and all schools are expected to address this through the Health and Well-being curriculum area within Curriculum for Excellence. It is for individual local authorities to work with schools to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to deal with incidents of substance misuse, such as smoking on school transport, based on local needs in the area.

35. There is no statutory requirement for local authorities to provide supervisors on school transport under the 1980 Act. While the supervision of pupils is unnecessary on many journeys, it may be desirable in some circumstances where it could address issues such as inappropriate behaviour or bullying. Supervision can be exercised by arranging for a teacher or parent to travel on the bus or by employing an individual to accompany the pupils. Other strategies that have been successful in promoting positive behaviour include seating plans and giving older pupils responsibilities for supervising their peers.

36. It is for local authorities themselves to determine, in light of local circumstances, when and how to provide supervision, and the Scottish Government expects authorities to keep this under review.

3.2 - Accessibility

35. Delivering accessible travel, including accessible school travel, is a responsibility shared with the UK Government. Transport providers have legal duties under the Equality Act 2010[19] not to discriminate, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people. It requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments[20] for all disabled people. Since 1st January 2020 all buses and coaches designed to carry over 22 passengers on local and scheduled routes have had to comply with the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000[21], in order for accessibility standards to be consistent across the UK. A temporary exemption is in place until 31st March 2022 for closed door home to school services.

36. Although the Equality Act 2010 is largely reserved, it gives Scottish Ministers powers to supplement the Public Sector Equality Duty with specific duties on Scottish public authorities. Consequently Scottish Ministers have supplemented the general duty in the Act by placing detailed requirements on Scottish public authorities through the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (as amended)[22].

37. Regulation 5[23] of those regulations sets out an obligation on public authorities to assess the impact of any policy or practice on people who share one or more protected characteristics, and that the assessment should include consider relevant evidence from those affected.

38. The Scottish Government has made clear its expectation that Scotland's transport providers and public services will continually improve their performance to help disabled people make better journeys. Scotland's Accessible Travel Framework[24] is about improving the journeys that disabled people make, whilst also working to remove the barriers which prevent them from travelling.

39. The vision articulated in the Framework is that all disabled people can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens. This means taking steps over and above those actions identified in the Framework to ensure that people's experiences are as good as they can be, and working in partnership to make sure this happens.

40. In the context of school transport, this means authorities can do a number of things. For example, they should work with providers to ensure that accessible vehicles, such as buses which are fully suitable for people with visible and hidden disabilities, are used in the provision of school transport. Consideration should be given to whether school transport can be accessed easily from all stops along a school bus journey. Pupils should also feel safe and secure whilst waiting for transportation to and from school. However, accessibility is about more than physical infrastructure. For example, staff should have appropriate levels of competency when working in the field of disability awareness. Positive interactions with staff can help build the confidence of disabled people to travel. In all this work, carrying out suitable equality impact assessments which obtain the views of disabled people about their needs and wishes is especially important. In their work on school transport, authorities should also strive to make sure that any unmet need for information or assistance about using public and accessible transport outside school is included.

Broader issues relating to safety

3.3 - Speed restrictions

41. Though not specifically related to school transport issues, the Scottish Government is committed to reducing risk on Scotland's roads and recognises that vehicle speed is a crucial factor in this endeavour. We are committed to improving road safety for everyone and Scotland's Road safety Framework to 2030, published in February 2021, has a renewed focus on pedestrians and people who cycle, including specific casualty reduction targets for children and cyclists. We have published guidance for local authorities to help reduce speeds in residential areas. The Good Practice Guide on 20 mph speed restrictions[25], updated in 2016, was produced in partnership with the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland.

42. The Guide aims to ensure greater consistency on setting 20 mph speed restrictions throughout Scotland and encourages local authorities to introduce them near schools, in residential zones and in other areas of towns and cities where there is a significant volume of pedestrian and/or cyclist activity. The Scottish Government wants to see 20 mph limits and zones implemented in Scotland where they are appropriate and is keen to encourage initiatives that cut speed, particularly near schools and in residential areas.

3.4 - Banning vehicles from the vicinity of the school and markings outside of school

43. Local authorities have a duty under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984[26] to manage and maintain local roads in their area as well as duties under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984[27] to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of traffic.

44. Authorities can use traffic regulation orders to restrict parking around schools or to exclude vehicles at particular times. For example, by installing retractable bollards to prevent vehicles from entering the school grounds or approaching too near to schools, or introducing yellow line road markings to prohibit vehicles from waiting.

45. Powers of parking enforcement can either be Police Scotland or the local authority, depending on whether or not the local authority has Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE). DPE is a regime which enables a local authority to administer its own parking penalties, including the issuing of Penalty Charge Notices to vehicles which a local authority that has DPE, can enforce. However, if the local authority has not decriminalised parking enforcement, Police Scotland would be responsible for enforcement. If the parking is still criminalised, Police Scotland could issue fixed penalty tickets within the appropriately marked areas.

46. The 'School Keep Clear' markings indicating a school entrance are mandatory ("must not stop") if they are accompanied by a vertical sign, but only advisory ("should not stop") if laid on the road. This is set out within the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016.[28] This marking is enforceable by the Police without a traffic regulation order (as a moving traffic offence). In order to enforce waiting on the marking as a waiting offence (enforceable by local authority parking attendants), an upright sign with the restrictions and an associated Traffic Regulation Order is required.