In the light of recent tragic and near tragic events surrounding bus pick up and drop offs, I thought I would share our procedures with you so you as parents and caregivers can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that your children are safe on buses at GCC.
I imagine that you were shocked as I was to learn that a three-year-old girl was left on a daycare bus for more than five hours. It feels like it was just the other day when another three-year-old did not survive a similar situation and our hearts break for the families and all involved.
We want to know, ‘how did this happen?’ and maybe some of you are asking if it could happen to your child? We don’t know the details of these tragedies and even with what looks like human error, none of us knows what the staff were going through at the time or since. This article is not to point the finger at anyone but rather, to tell you how we keep GCC students safe on buses.
Bus travel excursions at GCC
The youngest GCC student is about five years old but even at that age, we have some who travel to College on a bus. During the year we also have regular bus excursions from Prep to Year 12. Only last term our Prep students travelled by bus to see “Guess How Much I Love You” at the Events Centre in Caloundra. Heather Dodwell wrote an article about it and there was at least one photo of a student fast asleep on the bus after her eventful day.
Transportation Legislative Requirements
Keeping GCC students safe on buses begins long before the actual excursion. I should warn you in advance that the next section of this blog is very boring but extremely important. GCC follows the Safe Transportation of Children Guidelines by the Australian Children’s Education & Care Authority and the legislative requirements outlined in the document:
I told you it was boring but you managed to stay awake long enough to read through the list, you can see how essential the items are. There is no such thing as spontaneity for a school bus trip!
Extra precautions GCC takes to keep students safe on buses
The importance of checking that no children are left on the bus is a big part of ensuring the educator to child ratios are met and then following even more checking processes, roll marking and GCC procedures such as buddy systems, checklists, Change to School Routine and Procedures, etc. Here is a screenshot of just some of the other forms, policies and procedures GCC staff need to fill in at the very beginning of their planning:
“Walk the Bus”
At GCC, we also have a sign-in and sign-off Program called the ITM Project. Each student uses an ID card to sign in and out of the program. For Primary School students a card is produced for each student as needed. Secondary School students use their normal Student ID card.
If students don’t produce their cards the bus driver can sign them in manually but this is discouraged and if it becomes a regular occurrence then the student is reported to Admin for follow up.
A part of this program feature is called “Walk the Bus”. The Bus Driver must “Walk the Bus” before they close the program at the end of their run. This means the bus driver has to physically walk to the back of the bus with a card, (checking as he goes) and touch the card on the back wall of the bus.
This ensures that the bus driver has thoroughly checked that all students have disembarked and he or she also looks for any rubbish or lost property.
Boring is important
This might be the most boring blog I’ve ever written but as parents and caregivers, you know that it is the fundamental boring procedures that are life and death. Holding your child’s hand crossing the street, making sure they have their seatbelts on in the car, setting the child safety locks on cupboards when they are little and technology devices as they grow older, are the fundamental boring routines that keep our children safe.
At Glasshouse Christian College we take keeping GCC students safe very seriously and don’t care if the routine procedures are boring. Boring is always better than the alternative when it comes to safety.
Mike Curtis, Principal