It is important to follow your employer’s guidance for transport. Many employers will have a separate policy specifically covering areas such as the use of minibuses and coaches and supervision during transport. All national transport and driving laws must also be adhered to. .
The OEAP national guidance document provides an excellent summary of many the issues which need to be considered when planning transport.
A number of specific areas are covered below with links to OEAP national guidance documents where available.
Environmental and cost considerations
Increasingly, there is concern about the environmental ‘cost’ of transport and it is perhaps useful to ask ‘could this be done closer to home?’ when planning. Using public transport with large school groups presents its own logistical problems and is not always a viable alternative.
Clearly this is a complex topic and the economic, cultural and social benefits of overseas travel are significant and can provide a very powerful learning experience for young people.
The links below provide a guide to Hiring a coach and assessing a coach provider. Ttrips from the UK to Europe often include overnight coach journeys. Pupils and staff may arrive at a destination very tired as few will sleep well on these journeys. It is good to plan either to avoid overnight travel or to plan the first day at the destination carefully to build in some time for rest and recover.
OEAP National Guidance on hiring a coach
OEAP National Guidance: Checklist - Assessing a Coach Hire Provider
For long journeys it may be preferable to plan for transport using a coach and driver. However, there are situations where minibus transport is the best option. Local journeys with a small group or transporting Duke of Edinburgh expedition teams to and from expedition locations and to provide emergency back-up transport .
Employers should have a clear policy which covers all aspects of minibus use from hire and maintenance to driver competence and safety.
OEAP National Guidance on transport in minibuses
Be cautious about using your private car to transport pupils. Check your employer’s position regarding insurance and any vehicle and driving licence checks required.
OEAP National Guidance on using private cars
Seatbelts and child restraints
OEAP National Guidance on Seat Belts and Child Restraints
In the UK we are fortunate in having some of the safest roads in the world and well-regulated and safety-focussed rail, ferry and air transport. In many parts of the world road transport has a higher real risk than in the UK. If using an external provider to arrange your trip, ask them to provide information on how they have audited the quality of the transport they provide in-country. When travelling with School groups be very clear to parents that standards differ from those in the UK, that in consenting to the trip they accept that these risks will be greater than those of everyday life in the UK, and while you will do your best to minimise them, they cannot be eliminated. Good practice it to use established providers with excellent reviews and break the journey rather than travel overnight.
Transport interchanges, airlines and ferries
Transport interchanges – bus stations, ferry ports, railway stations and airports will all present their own challenges regarding group supervision and monitoring.
Good practice is to establish a base for the whole group in a relatively quiet area . Do not leave luggage unattended. On many ferries it is wise to manage access to the on-deck areas to either areas being supervised by staff or not allowed at all.
Experienced leaders will always be alert to what is required to manage a group of often tired and inexperienced travellers through a busy transport interchange. Be aware that opportunistic theft is often a significant risk in these environments. In airports it is often wise to check-in and go through security as soon as possible in order to minimise time in the more public areas of the airport.