We are updating you on the arrangements related to school transport for September having received information from Staffordshire County Council on 15 July 2020.

The attached letter is for you from Staffordshire County Council and gives guidance to you on school transport. All school buses are overseen at this level, not a school level, and so we work to the County Council’s lead.

In addition to this information, I wanted to give you a practical outline on what to expect transport-wise for the new term, though naturally anything I say now could be subject to change as things develop at a local, regional and national level.

Travelling by School Bus:

Staffordshire County Council operate some buses that are solely for schoolchildren and these will run with the following expectations:

 They will continue as normal and start from Thursday 3 September (our first day of term).
 Students will be asked, where possible, to wear face coverings.
 Students are advised to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before and after boarding.
 Vacant seats will not be granted to non-entitled students in order to reduce crowding.
 Transport operations will not be staggered.

Travelling by Public Buses / Trains:

Those students who do not qualify for free transport often still take public buses and these then follow different guidance:

 The government advice issued on 2 July suggests that, where possible, students should avoid public transport.
 Where possible, the government will work with commercial operators to support bus journeys at peak times so that access is restricted to schoolchildren only.
 Where possible, work will be undertaken with operators to increase capacity by running duplicate schoolchildren only services.
 There are no changes planned for schoolchildren using the rail service between Shenstone and Lichfield.

General Bus / Train Advice:

We would offer the follow general advice to all students / parent who have to use buses in September:

 Wear face mass on public transport.
 Avoid moving seats.
 Wash / sanitise your hands when you get on and off the bus.
 Treat all other passengers respectively as they will have their own COVID fears.
 Do not forget your bus pass as drivers are likely to be a lot less forgiving amidst the current climate.

The other key point is that whilst we will be working toward maintaining Year group bubbles in school, they will not be operating on buses. The only way to do this would be to have the County Council and public bus companies providing separate buses for each Year group in every secondary school – hence every school bus at our school would have to multiply sevenfold. It is understandable that this is not going to be possible.

Travelling by Car:

We have long cautioned parents that dropping off and picking up on the school site is not helpful as we only have one access point to the site. Clearly, having cars all over the place as children pick their way through the congestion is not sensible. We have not been able to stop this due to the access required by the District Council’s sport provision.

However, our view now tallies with Staffordshire County Council’s ‘Park & Stride’ advice which suggests reducing congestion around schools by dropping off a short distance away so children can then walk the last bit. More details on this initiative can be viewed here.

It is likely that the government advice discouraging the use of public transport will result in more car journeys so it is definitely worth thinking about how we can all lessen our impact as parents.

Travelling by Bike:

We have bike-sheds available to students but we would always advise bringing in a secure bike lock. We run Bikeability classes for Year 7s and would always preach the importance of safe and considerate behaviour when cycling.

Matt Allman, Headteacher, said: “The new term is going to be a learning experience for us all as we adapt to the new and ever-changing advice, requirement and arrangements. We are all going to have to take responsibility by helping others and ourselves by following all the sensible advice. Equally, do please recognise that we as a school do not run the buses, nor have the authority to determine the measures on them. Many of us are parents as well and have our own decisions to make on how our children get to school.”

If you have any further specific queries, then feel free to get in touch via office@friaryschool.co.uk.