Guidance on Home to School service

This guide has been prepared to help parents and carers with children who are travelling using the Home to School Transport Service.

Who runs the service?

The Home to School Transport Service is run by the Transport Coordination Unit (TCU) on behalf of The Directorate of Children’s Services and Learning.

What type of vehicle will be used to get my child to school?

The service uses several different types of vehicle depending on a number of factors. The vehicle could be a taxi, minibus, coach or wheelchair accessible bus. Staff in the TCU work closely with staff from the Special Educational Needs Team and Schools to decide what type of vehicle may be appropriate.

What if I want to take my own child to school?

In certain circumstances expenses may be paid if you wish to use your own transport to take your children to and from school. If you wish to make your own arrangements, you should discuss this with the Transport Coordination Unit.

Will the transport arrangements ever change?

Once transport arrangements have been made, it is not possible to guarantee that the same vehicle, operator, driver or escort will always be used and therefore you should be aware that it may be necessary to make changes at any time. The TCU will notify you of any changes by letter.

Who will look after my child during the journey?

An adult escort will be provided to accompany your child to/from school if it is felt that without an escort there would be a risk to the health or safety of your child or other children on the vehicle.

Escorts are required to stay in or close to the vehicle at all times as they are responsible for all of the children on the vehicle. They are not therefore able to enter children’s homes to collect them or drop them off.

You should note that it is your responsibility to take your child out to the vehicle in the mornings and collect your child from the vehicle in the afternoons if you feel the child needs to be accompanied to/from the vehicle.

If your child is just starting on transport, or if you wish to give the escort up to date information about your child, please complete the form from your guidance booklet and hand it to the escort on the first morning. This form will help the escort to get to know your child and ensure that they are equipped with all the relevant knowledge to make the journey to school both safe and enjoyable.

If an escort is suddenly taken ill and it is not possible to find a replacement, the transport may have to be cancelled. If this happens, every effort will be made to inform you of the problem. If the escort is sick and you decide to take your child into school using another means of transport, please ensure that you are able to collect your child at the end of the school day in the event that the TCU is unable to find a relief escort to cover in the afternoon.

What about the driver?

Drivers are not employed by Southampton City Council. However, they must all hold either a Private Hire, Hackney Carriage or PCV License and have undergone an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Where will my child be picked up and dropped off?

Some children are picked up and dropped off from their home. This may be due to their personal circumstances or because of the type of vehicle they are travelling in.

Larger vehicles often pick up and drop off at a central point. Where this is the case, you are responsible for the safety of your children between home and the pick-up / drop off point.

If you have waited more than 30 minutes after the pick-up time and no transport has arrived, you should return home and contact the Transport Coordination Unit for information.

What if my child needs a special seat or harness?

If it is necessary for your child to use a special seat or harness in order to travel, this will be provided by Southampton City Council. The equipment remains the property of the council at all times and must be returned when it is no longer required. This equipment may need to stay with your child overnight and where this is the case, you will be responsible for replacing any damaged or lost equipment.

Can I request a different pickup point or drop off point for my child?

We provide assistance for journeys from home to school. We are unable to provide assistance for journeys:

  • To a school other than your child’s designated school or the nearest appropriate school named in their Statement of Special Educational Needs.
  • To work experience placements
  • To dental or hospital appointments
  • At times other than the normal school start and finish times
  • In the event of sickness where your child has to be collected from school (or returned mid-week if attending a residential school)
  • To or from a venue that is not your normal home address, for example, a childminder's house or a respite care placement

* These conditions may not apply if your child’s transport has been agreed by a Social Worker.

How do I know my child is safe?

We take every precaution to ensure your child's safety while they are travelling on the vehicle. In particular we ensure that:

  • Escorts have received an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check 
  • Escorts carry ID cards issued by Southampton City Council
  • Drivers, escorts and operators are aware of their duties and responsibilities, particularly in the event of an emergency
  • Escorts receive regular training including first aid and manual handling
  • You are informed in advance of any changes in transport arrangements
  • Children are never left alone at drop-off points unless you have given written permission to the escort for this to happen

What standards of behaviour are expected of the children?

For reasons of health and safety your child must:

  • Not smoke on school transport
  • Not eat or drink on the vehicle
  • Not stand up in the vehicle while it is moving
  • Use their seatbelt at all times

You may be held responsible for any damage caused by your child and be asked to reimburse the operator accordingly. Persistent disruptive or violent behaviour may result in your child’s exclusion from the transport. Should this happen, you will then be responsible for taking your child to and from school.

How can you help us?

You can play an important part in ensuring the smooth running of your child's transport arrangements by:

  • Making sure your child is ready five minutes before the pick-up time
  • (transport will only wait for three minutes after your child’s agreed pick up time)
  • Always be at the drop-off point to meet your child, or make arrangements for a responsible adult to meet your child on your behalf
  • If there is no one at the drop-off point to meet your child, you will have to meet any additional expenditure involved in ensuring your child's safe return. In such cases, we reserve the right to contact outside agencies, such as Children’s Services and Learning and/or the Police, as necessary
  • Informing the Transport Coordination Unit team, escort or operator as soon as possible if your child is ill or unable to travel for any reason
  • Advising the escort if you are aware of any problems affecting your child on a particular day
  • Ensuring that your child is aware of appropriate behaviour whilst travelling
  • Giving your child's school or social worker plenty of notice of any changes of address that may affect transport arrangements
  • Providing the escort or the TCU with the name, address and telephone number of a responsible person who can take responsibility for your child in an emergency if you are not available