This short guidance note aims to provide a brief overview of the role of responsible councils with regards to home to school contracts and licensing authorities with regards to safeguarding in taxi/ private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing and suggests some recommended actions.
The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Institute of Licensing (IoL) have been contacted by some of their members, who have expressed some concerns about home to school transport contracts and safeguarding risks. This short guidance note is not intended to provide a detailed guide to safeguarding and school transport. It aims to provide a brief overview of the role of responsible councils with regards to home to school contracts and licensing authorities with regards to safeguarding in taxi/ private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing and suggests some recommended actions.
Concerns raised by LGA/ IoL members
The LGA and IoL are aware of concerns about how much communication there is between education transport authorities and licensing authorities about home to school contracts. There have been instances where an education transport authority has revoked a home to school contract due to safeguarding concerns but not communicated this with the licensing authority, who may also licence the driver. The same could apply the other way round.
Additionally, concerns have been raised about education authorities’ use of PSV drivers, which means children could be being transported by a driver without an enhanced DBS check.
The LGA and IoL would encourage education transport authorities and licensing authorities to take the following actions:
- Set up a meeting between the licensing authority, education transport authority and PHV operator(s): this will be a good opportunity to discuss licensing policies and home to school transport arrangements, exchange ideas and establish how best to work together. Some education transport authorities will have multiple licensing authorities within their area; where this is the case, we would suggest a joint meeting.
- Check each other’s licensing policies: does the licensing authority know what their education authority’s school transport arrangements are? Education transport authorities should ensure their transport contract arrangements are clear and shared with licensing authorities. If they are not, we recommend that the licensing authority contact their local education transport authority and request to see it. Similarly, does the education transport authority know what the taxi/PHV licensing policies of their licensing authority are? Are they satisfied with the fit and proper person test? It is important that each authority is aware of the other’s policies.
- Establish a data sharing protocol between the licensing authority, education transport authority and operator: this should be included in a home to school transport contract and outline the type of concerns that would prompt a disclosure and when this information should be shared. If there is a safeguarding concern, this should be reported to the licensing authority as they may need to revoke a licence. If a licensing authority knows a driver has a school contract, then the safeguarding concerns should be reported to the education transport authority immediately. If the issues are contractual, such as poor time keeping, it is not necessary to report this to a licensing authority. Some education transport authorities will have multiple licensing authorities within their area. Where this is the case, neighbouring licensing authorities must be involved in such a protocol, as a driver may not be licensed by their local licensing authority and could be licensed by a neighbouring authority.
- Education transport authorities should undertake a child barred list check on drivers before issuing a contract. This is essential, as although an Enhanced DBS for a taxi/PHV driver must include a check of both the adult and children barred lists, it is for “other workforce” which is a different category of check from that used for school transport. Licensing authorities should not licence someone on the barred list, however it is good practice for education transport authorities to do this additional check.
- When awarding a contract, education transport authorities should establish by whom and where a driver is licensed. Drivers do not have to be licensed by their local licensing authority and can be licensed anywhere in the country. It is essential to establish who has licensed a driver to ensure an education transport authority can report a safeguarding concern to the licensing authority if required.