- George Poland
Minibus Compliance – Are you on the right track?
I have been helping schools, colleges, universities and charitable organisations with their minibuses, driver training and compliance for the last 13 years. I continue to discover organisations who are still unsure whether they should be operating on a Section 19 permit, a Restricted PSV operator’s licence or even a Full PSV operator’s licence. In addition, throw in the ‘is my driver correctly and sufficiently qualified to drive a minibus?’ question and it’s no wonder people can be confused.
I also believe some of the other minibus suppliers out there do not fully understand the implications and that can result in a school either being woefully short on compliance or in the cases of supplier scaremongering, it can lead to the schools being faced with unnecessary expense and extra red tape they may not need.
The consequences for getting compliance wrong can be expensive. Not only in fines, prohibitions and prosecutions, but reputations can be damaged too. This is particularly key when competition in the independent school sector is so fierce. On the flip side, get your minibus management right and you can use it as a massive selling point for your schools’ approach to safety.
In short, any school in the public sector (state schools, academies, FE colleges, Universities, Faith schools etc.) should qualify for a Section 19 permit. This will enable the school to run their minibus for the good of the school community, allow them to charge for trips to cover operating costs of the minibus (Not to make a profit!) and will allow age acquired D1 licence holders, and in some cases NON D1 holders, to drive their minibus.
Some independent schools can run with a Section 19 permit, providing they are set up as a charity and again do not operate their buses for Hire & Reward (buses used for the benefit of the school community).
Private independent schools without charity status must run their buses on a restricted operator’s licence (up to two minibuses) or a full PSV operator’s licence. This has implications on the vehicle (a tachograph is needed, amongst other requirements) and the driver (they must pass a D1 test, even if they acquired one because they were old enough). In addition, you may have to prove you have the financial means to manage the buses. There will a stricter inspection regime needed too as well as a PSV level MOT.
I have helped many schools over the last 13 years to put the correct measures in place. I am passionate about ensuring schools are doing what they need to do. During lock down whilst the buses are potentially quieter, I am offering a video meeting to run through a high-level minibus compliance health check. It’s about 20 minutes long, completely free of charge or obligation and you will get a summary emailed to you after the meeting.