When reference is made to the “pupil journey”, most educators instinctively think of a child’s progress upward through their school. But for the students themselves, the most relevant journey to them on a day to day basis is the one that they make from home to school, and back again, five days a week.
How safe are our school buses?
A lot of students travel to school on a bus or public service of a similar kind, with the regular commute providing an opportunity for unsupervised social interaction and of course, catching up on last minute homework. But for schools, they need to recognise the increasing importance of ensuring that their transport services are compliant with safeguarding and welfare regulations.
The Education Act 2002 makes it clear that LEAs, schools and FE institutions are all required to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children for whom they are responsible. DfE guidance is similarly clear that this requirement does include home to school transport services.
The exact details of which services fall in scope of the Act are unclear, but every school is seeking to exceed rather than merely meet these requirements. Protecting and safeguarding young people who don’t walk to school is the highest priority. And school transport is under the spotlight at present, this includes school bus services.
Is technology the solution?
The problem that arises from the use of buses is that the adult: student ratio on most school buses far exceeds that observed anywhere else in the education sector. There is a strong moral and common-sense argument that due to the way services operate, the driver can play no part in monitoring or managing passenger behaviour. Therefore school buses are, in effect, unstaffed. This means that we need to take a new approach to safeguarding students when on the bus.
New technology allows office-based staff at schools, local authorities and bus operators to monitor vehicle locations in real time, as well as being able to see when each individual student boards and alights from every vehicle. The same information can also be made available on an individual basis to parents/guardians, allowing them to monitor their child’s journey to and from school.
With this new tracking technology, you are provided with instant location updates meaning no phone operator interaction is required to check why the bus hasn’t arrived. You can instead use the Uber–style mapping that allows you to watch your bus move towards you.
As useful as that functionality is however, it’s when incidents occur that the app really comes into its own. Instant knowledge of who has boarded and alighted from any specific coach route, allows for improved management of potential incidents.
By identifying which students were on the vehicle at the relevant time, schools can resolve situations quickly. You can pinpoint the likely whereabouts of a missing student, identify potential culprits and victims of bullying, and know which parents/guardians need to be notified following any road traffic collision incidents. This helps to ensure that information is delivered accurately and distress is not caused unnecessarily.
How can YPO help your school?
YPO and Vectare have partnered together to launch a suite of technology to deliver all the above benefits to schools, parents, guardians and students. Vectare, specialist school transport technology firm, have developed an offering including the very first YPO app.
The parent app, accessible via a secure login allows them to track their child’s bus, and receive push notifications and alerts when they board or alight. The driver app, which is also password protected, allows drivers to register students electronically and also functions as a revenue protection device, enabling the logging of additional passengers who are not booked to travel.
These two apps connect in real time via an extensive database system giving parents, guardians, schools and transport operators instant visibility of a student’s home to school journey – making it easy to safeguard and protect children from the start of their journey at the bus stop, directly to the school gates.
The back-office system which is accessible by schools, integrates with CAPITA SIMS and enables schools to gain real time visibility over their entire transport network. Using this technology, schools have access to the parent and driver app, the school transport website, journey planner, online booking system as well as powerful analytics and reporting tools. The system, for easy parent and student verification includes RFID technology to enable easy registration of students as they get on and off their bus.
For reduced administration, enhanced customer service and a significant improvement in the safeguarding of children - get the YPO Home to School transport app today to unlock all these benefits!
To find out more you can view our Home to School Transport Solution or watch the video below.
This blog was featured in our Everything Curriculum magazine, you can read the rest of Issue 6 which talks about all things technology in the education sector or discover our previous issues.