NASUWT renews minibus safety campaign

The NASUWT union has renewed it’s call for action on minibus safety after transport minister Guy Opperman confirmed that the government has no plans to make changes to the Transport Act Section 19 and 22 permit schemes for schools. These exemption permits allow individuals, including teachers, to drive minibuses without any specialist training. They also mean that schools operating minibuses are exempt from Operator’s License requirements. The union has been calling for these exemptions to be withdrawn for schools, arguing that the exemptions were only meant to be a stop-gap, yet are still in place decades after they were introduced and need to be removed for schools to ensure the appropriate and safe use of minibuses.

The NASUWT has been campaigning on the issue since November, which marked 30 years since a minibus from Hagley Roman Catholic High School crashed on the M40 near Warwick, killing 12 pupils and their teacher. In the M40 tragedy, the pupils’ teacher had worked all day and then driven all evening. The minibus crashed into the back of a motorway maintenance vehicle parked on the hard shoulder.

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary for NASUWT, said: ‘There is no end to the list of responsibilities this Government will pile upon teachers. It is dangerous to ask a teacher to drive a minibus when they only have a driver’s license. It is doubly dangerous to ask them to drive long distances after they have already completed their working day at school.’ Referencing the Hagley minibus crash, he added: ‘Thirty years on, the reason for the crash is still unresolved: the teacher at the wheel had been working all day, driving all evening, and did not have a minibus operator’s license. They should never have been put in such a position. Unbelievably, teachers are still expected to carry this burden. If the Secretary of State for Transport wishes to prevent further tragedies and to keep teachers and pupils safe on the road, he will scrap Section 19 and 22 exemptions for schools as a matter of urgency. They were only ever meant to be a stop gap. NASUWT will continue to campaign for safe and secure transport for teachers and pupils, and for teachers to be allowed to concentrate on teaching – not driving.’

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