False economy on the buses

5th December 2003 at 00:00
The National Association of Head Teachers is to be commended for drawing attention to the dangers in the current rules governing school buses ("Call for school bus law to change" TES, November 21).

Unfortunately, in emphasising overcrowding caused by the "three for two" rule, (allowing three under-14s to sit in two seats) reports of NAHT leader David Hart's statement, miss his other, equally important, points.

It does not matter whether buses are fitted with seatbelts if no one ensures pupils use them, or behave properly.

All too often school, parents and local authorities wash their hands of responsibility for pupil behaviour on buses. But trips can be a journey to hell, with a driver ill-equipped to act as sole childminder. Drivers cannot be expected to supervise as well as drive. They tend to complete school runs as fast as possible, breathing a sigh of relief if it is relatively trouble-free.

The foolhardy use of double-deckers to transport pupils, and the lack of effective supervision suggest a purely cost-driven approach. Councils'

emphasis on economy is not in their own best interests, let alone those of parents, teachers and pupils.

Colin Wakeling 7 Old Stage Road Fountainhall Galashiels, Scotland

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