Committee Calls for More Checks for Home to School Transport
Date: Wednesday, 03 October 2012
Reference: EDUC 03/12/13
The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Education is pressing for a more joined-up approach for health and safety checking for Home to School transport.
The Committee questioned officials from the Department of Education and the Department of the Environment about: compliance with health and safety regulations; enforcement of standards; and training for drivers.
Committee Chairperson, Mervyn Storey MLA, said: “The Committee has devoted a lot of time to health and safety issues affecting children making use of Home to School transport. One area of particular concern is the reported inconsistent enforcement of regulations for some operators that provide transport services for school children.
“In Great Britain, Operation Coachman has been used to target public service vehicles and has detected an offending rate of just under 30%. The Committee was alarmed to find that when spot checks are undertaken in Northern Ireland, a similarly high rate of non-compliance with health and safety regulations was also found.
“I think it’s time for a more joined-up programme of checks for school transport providers. I know that this is supported by most private transport companies as a means of weeding out rogue operators.”
The Chairperson concluded: “The Committee believes that the most efficient way to address this issue is for the Department of Education and Department of the Environment to work more closely together in checking compliance with health and safety regulations and that proper action is taken to remedy non-compliance as and when it occurs. This will help to make sure that the best and safest transport service is delivered for our children.”
Notes to Editors:
Current arrangements for the provision of Home to School transport were introduced in 1997. The Department of Education issues guidance on pupil safety when using Home to School transport.
Education and Library Boards (ELBs) manage and award the transport contracts for around 61,000 pupils.
The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA – an agency of the Department of the Environment) undertakes spot checks for school transport; provides training and also undertook a bus compliance survey in 2012.
Chairperson: Mervyn Storey MLA
Deputy Chairperson: Danny Kinahan MLA
Michaela Boyle MLA
Jonathan Craig MLA
Jo-Anne Dobson MLA
Brenda Hale MLA
Chris Hazzard MLA
Trevor Lunn MLA
Michelle McIlveen MLA
Sean Rogers MLA
Pat Sheehan MLA