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Just who is driving your child?

Friday January 31, 2020

BUSK is hearing from a record number of parents about their child's school using private cars to transport them on school trips. The driver could be a teacher, teacher assistant or another parent but for most parents and carers contacting BUSK about this issue, they are extremely worried about safety. "In some cases, schools have not even told a parent or carer that another parent or teacher will be driving their son or daughter on the trip, let alone obtain express written permission from them," explained BUSK's Director, Pat Harris. She continued, "Only this week, parents of an eight-year-old boy were horrified to learn that their child was driven on a trip by a teacher's assistant who did not even make sure his safety belt was fastened, nor did the school in question, provide a booster seat, a legal requirement for all children travelling in a car who are under the age of 12 years or under the height of 135cms, whichever they reach first."  When the parents complained they were told it was their child's responsibility to ensure he belted up.  Clearly this school does not understand the law. All car drivers are legally responsible for ensuring all passengers up to the age of 14 years, are wearing their safety belts and wearing them correctly. 

Never before has BUSK received so many calls in the last few months surrounding this one issue. We do know that cash strapped schools use private cars for trips, but it is BUSK's experience that not all schools have the correct and suitable procedures in place to check the driver, the car and insurance details etc.  National guidance is available to help schools meet their legal obligations and even some teacher unions advise against using a teacher or parent to drive pupils other than their own. It is not just who is driving and what their driving abilities are, it is their driving history that is not looked into and then there is the matter of one person driving a car with four pupils - the driver should not be driving and supervising as well. 

If you are a teacher or part of a management team at a school then this link may help you meet your legal requirements: http://busk-uk.co.uk/parents/using_private_cars_for_school_trips2