BUSSING PROJECT

This project was started to discuss the bussing situation with the school after parents felt their concerns had not been addressed in the school survey.

Background

By May 2016 the PSO board had received significant feedback from parents on bussing and felt that the points needed to be reviewed and presented to the school administration.

After the last bussing survey came out, many parents felt that school ignored their issues with bussing. The changes implemented by the school were to increase, rather than decrease, fees for everyone – even more for those in London – and introduce the KT11 Express.

Four main issues were identified:

  • The inflexibility of bussing;
  • Cost;
  • The shuttle service not being available for Lower School children; and
  • The lack of a late bus for Lower School children, which means that many cannot take part in after-school clubs.

 

Response

In June 2016 PSO Representatives and PSO President Allan Scott met with Heidi Ayoub, Phil Bridger, Tony Eysele, Chris Johnson and Fergus Rose of ACS to discuss the issue of improving the bussing at ACS Cobham.

A wide discussion of the points raised was held. The PSO representatives were looking for a flexible service, which met the needs of as many students as possible, and which was affordable. The major issues identified were:

  • Greater flexibility for parents to make use of bussing.
  • Extending the afternoon shuttle service and late bus to Lower School and Early Childhood students.

The discussion looked at a number of areas including:

  • Improving parents’ understanding of what was offered, especially with the shuttle option.
  • Moving towards a greater use of shuttle service if there was genuine parent demand.
  • How younger students’ safety could be ensured if they used the afternoon shuttle and late bus service.
  • Balancing the need to negotiate a cost-effective contract, meet current and new parents needs and shifts in demand.
  • Encouraging public bus providers to serve the needs of ACS Cobham students.
  • Linking the after school activity calendar with the bus service.

It was agreed that ACS would:

  • Improve the communication to parents, to ensure promotion of the shuttle option as well as door-to-door, so that parents were genuinely aware of this choice.
  • Investigate moving to a shuttle-only service within a defined area, providing a flexible service with larger buses operating on main routes for the 2017/18 year, including provision, routes and commercial/costs.
  • Investigate extending shuttle use to younger students with appropriate safety practice.
  • Investigate with other schools approaching public bus providers to better meet our needs.
  • Look at aligning bussing billing periods with sports and activity “seasons”.

 

Update April 2017

Flexible bussing: No change – the school is not considering flexible bussing at this time. Families still have to sign up for Mon-Fri bussing, for a full term.

Lower School students using shuttle buses: Lower Schooler students are allowed to use shuttle buses to and from school. If a parent/carer fails to meet them at the stop on two occasions, and the bus has to return to school with the child, the family must switch to the door-to-door service.

Lower School students using the late bus: The School will only consider LS-students with an older sibling with them to take the late bus home, provided they have written permission from parents and “all the safeguarding structures are in place”. This appears to mean that parents can negotiate this kind of an arrangement with the School.

The School checked with ACS Hillingdon about their late buses, and there had been occasions when the drivers had to return to school with the pupil as no-one had been there to meet them at the late bus drop-off point. This obviously raises safeguarding concerns for the school.

Arrangements for Lower Schoolers to stay at school till later (wraparound child care) and then take the late bus home: “Until such time that we have a full LS co-curricular programme and possibly a separate LS dining hall we are not yet in a position to extend the day to LS apart from what is currently offered. We employ extra people to run the LS library until 5pm which has worked well, but the parents collect their children from the library and the children do not use the late buses. Staff are already stretched in managing all of this.”

 

Conclusion

The school was able to move on some issues and is implementing changes. On some issues, such as cost and flexible bussing they are unable to make a change at this time.