Probe after vulnerable Lancashire pupils left on school buses

Posted: 28th March 2024

Source: Probe after vulnerable Lancashire pupils left on school buses – BBC News

An investigation is under way after several vulnerable children were found onboard specialist school buses after the vehicles returned to their depots.

Lancashire County Council is looking into three incidents in which pupils were overlooked after all other passengers had been dropped off.

It relates to transport the council provides for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

It is understood the pupils were aged eight, 14 and 16.

It is not known where in the county the errors were made, nor whether they were all on journeys home from school or if some were on the way in or exactly how long the children remained onboard.

However, the incidents have prompted the council to write to all staff who work on special educational needs and disabilities bus services reminding them of the need to follow what it describes as its “robust safeguarding measures”.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands the school attended by the 14-year-old was alerted after a short period of time by the teenager’s family, while the eight-year-old and the 16-year-old were taken straight back to their schools when they were found.

The council said: “We do have set procedures for school transport and for dropping off pupils.

“We have been in touch with the three families involved and offer our sincere apologies in those cases.

“From our position as a council, there is no valid excuse for not checking our buses.

“This matter has been taken very seriously and, as a result, these cases are being fully investigated and appropriate management action is being taken.

Earlier this year, it emerged County Hall was forecasting that it would spend around £6m more than it had planned on the transport service in the current financial year.

It came as a result of what the authority described as “significant increases” in passenger numbers, along with the need to follow guidance which sets out the maximum journey times children should face each day. This is 45 minutes each way for primary school children and 75 minutes for those at secondary school.

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