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Minibus female teacher primary children

Exemptions that allow schools and colleges to run minibuses without an Operator’s Licence must be scrapped in a bid to prevent further tragedies on our roads.

Thirty years ago this week on November 18th a minibus from Hagley Roman Catholic High School crashed on the M40 near Warwick, killing 12 pupils and their teacher. Only two pupils survived.

Although much has been done to improve the safety of minibuses themselves since the crash, the NASUWT is deeply concerned that the fundamental cause of the accident – a teacher driving a minibus when they shouldn’t have been – remains unresolved.

Teachers with just a car driving licence can be asked to drive a minibus long distances after a full day of teaching.

In the M40 tragedy, the pupils’ teacher, Eleanor Fry, had worked all day and then drove all evening. The minibus crashed into the back of a motorway maintenance vehicle parked on the hard shoulder.

The NASUWT is calling for the Section 19/22 exemptions, which allow schools to operate minibuses without an Operators Licence, to be withdrawn for schools.

This would mean that all drivers of minibuses would need to have formal qualifications, and statutory safeguards on driving would be in place.

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.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “Many parents will be horrified to realise that 30 years after this appalling tragedy school minibuses are still being driven by teachers without full minibus driving licence qualifications or without statutory safeguards.

“It is still the case that teachers can do a whole day of teaching pupils and then drive and supervise pupils, sometimes for many hours.

“We are calling on the Transport Secretary to close this loophole in the regulations, bring in statutory safeguards and ensure that all drivers of minibuses have formal qualifications.

“Thirty years on from this tragedy, the most appropriate way to honour the memory of the victims is to do everything possible to ensure such a terrible accident doesn’t happen again.”


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