WELSH COUNCILS WILL HAVE TO TOUGHEN CONDUCT CODES ON SCHOOL BUSES
Local authorities in Wales will have to bring in codes of behaviour for children travelling on school buses under proposals published by the Welsh Assembly Government and now out for consultation. The measures would also provide free transport for more primary school children.
Launching proposals for a Learner Travel (Wales) Measure, the Assembly Economy and Transport Minister, Dr. Brian Gibbons, said thousands of children traveled on the buses every day and they were the safest means of getting to school. Problems were the exception, he said, but when they happened the consequences could be severe and sometimes even fatal.
“There have been concerns raised about the behaviour of a minority of pupils on school buses. Parents and children understandably want effective, fair and trustworthy transport arrangements. Many local authorities have introduced codes of conduct already but there are doubts about whether effective sanctions can be enforced under existing legislation,” he said.
The draft Measure would place a duty on all Welsh local councils to introduce a code of conduct for behaviour on buses after consultation with schools, further education institutions, parents and learners. Current Legislation allows for a school’s behaviour policy to include pupil conduct outside school premises and the new measure would amend this so that incidents on buses could also be included.
The measure would also allow minor changes to school start and finish times to ease the “school run” congestion. The proposals would reinforce the current system for free transport entitlement, based on children attending the nearest school to their home suitable for their age and any special educational needs, but in recognition of the growing trend of parents driving children to school, eligibility limits will be changed. This would mean free transport for all children in primary education if they live two miles or more from the nearest suitable school.