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School bus guidance for operators and drivers

This guide has been produced to help operators and drivers and may be useful when training new staff. Similar guides have been produced for parents and schools which detail their responsibilities.

Advice for drivers and operators

Operators should be familiar with our conditions of contract for passenger transport. Copies are available on request. To help ensure that the journey is as safe and comfortable as possible, there are a number of guidelines which operators and drivers should follow.

Prior to service

Drivers must be familiar with the route and timetable to which they have been allocated and should ensure that it is observed. Problems maintaining the timetable should be reported immediately.

Ensure that the service number is displayed and the destination display is correct.

Before leaving the depot, drivers must undertake daily checks to make sure the vehicle is fit for service.

Service operation

Drivers must check bus passes each day. Pupils will only get in the habit of showing passes if drivers ask to see them.

The coloured stripe on bus passes will change every year and drivers will be able to identify passes which have expired. These passes should be confiscated and returned to us.

Pupils who do not have a bus pass must pay a fare on registered services. A ticket should be issued.

Drivers should use their discretion when dealing with pupils who claim they have lost their bus pass or money. It is acceptable for older pupils to be refused travel, but drivers should consider the potential dangers such as the child's age, location and if they are on their own. Primary school pupils must never be refused travel. Problems or concerns should be reported to the school or us as soon as possible.

Drivers should approach bus stops with care.

Ensure that the doors are closed before setting off.

Drivers must not allow the vehicle to be loaded above the capacity of the vehicle. If there are too many pupils, report this to the operator on return to the depot.

Allow pupils to find a seat before setting off. Never allow pupils to stand on the front platform.

Drivers must not smoke or allow smoking by pupils – this applies to both cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Drivers should maintain a professional and detached relationship with passengers and must avoid any physical contact and involvement in inappropriate topics of conversation.

Observe the Highway Code, drive in a courteous manner and adhere to speed limits.

Operators and drivers must co-operate our enforcement officers who undertake vehicle checks at both schools and depots.

Drivers should remember that they are the adult on board the bus and should not let themselves be provoked by poor behaviour. Always report any behaviour problems to the school, or when you return to your work base.

Operators must inform us of any new drivers so Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks can be undertaken.

Behaviour on school transport

We support a number of school services and are committed to providing safe and reliable transport. A number of bus services now have CCTV fitted and we'll support operators who are able to provide images to schools or the police.

Dealing with misbehaviour

Step 1

Where issues exist, drivers will normally to speak to the pupil(s) about their behaviour. If problems remain, details should be reported to the school and us. Once a pupil has been reported, a verbal warning will be given by the school. Pupils may be punished within school for their misbehaviour.

Step 2

Where a pupil is a persistent offender or commits a serious offence, a written warning will be issued as follows. Either:

  • a letter will be sent home informing parents or guardians of their child’s behaviour along with a warning that further misbehaviour will result in the child being banned from the bus for a temporary period


  • a letter will be sent home informing parents or guardians that an immediate ban from the bus has been imposed for a specified period. Pupils may also be asked to sign an acceptable behaviour contract before they are allowed to return to the bus

Warning letters are issued by either the school or us.

In very serious cases, the right to travel on school transport may be indefinitely withdrawn. Parents will have a right of appeal, to a panel of council members, against the withdrawal of transport provision.

When bans are imposed, parents or guardians will be responsible for transport arrangements and costs. Serious offences should be reported to the police, to be dealt with by way of criminal proceedings. A serious offence can be defined as any type of behaviour which endangers the safety of other passengers, the driver and members of the public. It also includes criminal damage or vandalism to the bus.

Damage or vandalism to the bus

Parents or guardians of any pupil who damages or vandalises the bus will be liable for any costs incurred by the bus company. We will support the bus company and will encourage police involvement if necessary.

General advice to operators and drivers

Ensure that problems with behaviour are reported to the school. Provide as much information as possible and record these in the incident report book.

Liaise with schools. For example, if your service is operating late, contact the school so they can inform pupils or parents by text alert or Twitter.

Pupils must never be evicted from the bus mid way through the route. Report any problems you have had when you arrive at school, or on return to depot.

Pupils should be encouraged to sit down during the journey and to wear seat belts if they are available.

Any ban from the bus must have the support of the school and us. For legal reasons, it is essential that the behaviour guidelines are followed before any ban is imposed.

If in doubt drivers should seek advice from their employer. Operators may seek advice from our school transport section.


Our enforcement officers will undertake vehicle and driver checks at schools. Operators and drivers are expected to co-operate with officers. Checks may also be undertaken at the operator's depot.

Additional checks will be undertaken by VOSA and the police.

In emergencies

In the event of a breakdown, warn other traffic by using the hazard warning lights.

Contact the depot to arrange an alternative vehicle.

Encourage pupils to wait on the bus for the replacement vehicle to arrive. Drivers can use their discretion as some pupils may only be a short distance from home or school. If drivers are in any doubt, they should seek advice from the operator, school or us.

Drivers should remain with the vehicle and passengers.

Ensure that drivers have been trained to use emergency exits and any equipment which may be on board such as fire extinguishers.

Breakdowns or accidents must be reported to the school and us as soon as possible - drivers should have access to the telephone numbers.

Contact information

If you have any enquiries about school transport, contact:

School Transport Team
Economy, Transport and Communities Environment
Derbyshire County Council
County Hall

Tel: 01629 536720 or 01629 536739