School run safeguarding a ‘key concern’ for parents

Nearly half (49%) of parents are concerned about their child’s safety and welfare on their journey to and from school, reveals new research.
 
The survey of over 1,000 parents with children of school age, commissioned by Kura, found that 22% of schools do not have a school run safeguarding policy in place. Just 40% of parents are aware if their child’s school has a policy to deal with safeguarding incidents on the school journey and 38% didn’t know.
 
Danger caused by traffic and busy roads (71%) and the behaviour of other children on the school journey (68%) were the most cited safeguarding concerns. Additionally, parents expressed concern about the potential behaviour of members of the public (58%), the unreliable nature of public transport (44%) and children disembarking at the wrong stop on the homeward journey (34%).
 
High traffic levels around the school gates also pose a risk to students, exposing them to damaging levels of pollution. According to UNICEF, one in three children in the UK are growing up in areas with toxic air, most of which is coming from vehicle emissions.
 
Encouragingly, it seems that alternative transport methods are increasing in popularity. Only 15% of parents say their child travels to school via car or taxi, with 52% of parents saying that their child walks to school. Home to school transport services are now used by 16% of students.
 
Only 37% of parents surveyed felt that their child’s school or transport operator already does enough to safeguard students on the journey to and from school. To ease concerns, parents would like to see more school staff or chaperones on board buses to monitor behaviour (28%), better CCTV on school transport (24%) and more school staff at public transport hubs (21%) - a potentially expensive solution for schools to arrange.
 
Further to this, a fifth (20%) of parents believe that schools need to introduce passenger tracking software to confirm when their child has boarded and disembarked from the bus on the school run to give parents peace of mind.
 
As a result of these findings, Kura has announced the launch of its free software offering at the annual ISBA conference. This will enable school staff and drivers to see which students are on board and on which route, track school vehicles, manage capacity and access the driver app. Students will also be able to tap on and off the vehicle to enable confirmation of where they boarded and disembarked the service.
 
Along with the free software, Kura has developed a set of transport safeguarding guidelines that all schools can easily follow and implement to instantly improve the safety of its pupils on the school run.
 
Godfrey Ryan, CEO of Kura, said: “In previous research, we found that 39% of school leaders believe that student safeguarding will pose a significant challenge over the next 12 months and it’s clear from our current research that these concerns are also shared by parents.
 
“Clearly more needs to be done to ensure that the school journey is a key part of a school’s overall safeguarding strategy.
 
“To reduce the impact of congestion and pollution, as well as enhance safeguarding on the school journey, schools should consider introducing cycling and walking schemes, and the provision of shared transport and home to school (H2S) coach and minibus services.
 
“School transport technology also has a vital role to play in enhancing safeguarding on the school run, which is why we have made our industry leading transport safeguarding software available free to all schools, forever. We’re passionate about drawing attention to this safeguarding blind spot and ensuring that solutions are accessible to all schools.
 
“Currently, only 13% of those surveyed said their school uses a home to school service with tracking software. However, schools may well find this allays the fears of parents calling for more chaperones or school staff at public transport hubs, which is extremely difficult to resource.”
 
Schools can sign up for Kura’s new free transport safeguarding software at www.ridekura.com/for-schools
 

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