Responsible schools and colleges

  • TC1474's Avatar
    In my semi retirement, apart from being a legal advisor and crash investigator and advanced driving examiner, I also drive a community bus and I am what is called a MiDAS instructor/examiner (Mini bus driver Awareness scheme) which is a nationally recognised qualification and is recommended for anyone who transports disabled or handicapped passengers. It is not compulsory, but it helps keep insurance premiums down as the chances of a mishap occurring are reduced, especially when it comes to securing wheelchairs and the frail.

    There are 2 main courses. The full MiDAS for large and accessible mini buses over 3.5 tonnes and which is only available to licence holders who hold a D1 licence (passed their test pre 1997) and Car and MPV which is for drivers who passed their test post 1997 and are limited in the size of vehicle they can drive in that they can only drive a mini bus up to a maximum gross weight of 3.5 tonnes and carry no more than 8 passengers.

    This Car and MPV course is usually applied to the likes of teachers and residential care centres where the majority are post 1997 licence holders.

    Other rules apply such as they cannot be paid for driving unlike a D1 licence holder, they cannot drive a mini bus abroad, and it cannot form part of the employment contractual obligations.

    Anyway........That is the basics. I recently was asked by my boss to attend a quite prestigious college to conduct a Car and MPV MiDAS course.

    It transpired that both teachers only held a B licence (full car) which means they were limited to what they could drive.

    But that did not seem to bother them as they had been to Spain in a college bus with students on several occasion (so unlicenced and uninsured) and were driving vehicles that were closer to 4 tonnes unladen, so well over their permitted maximum gross weight.

    I did the theory on the basis that I was assured that the bus they would be doing the practical driving assessment on was B licence compliant.

    At the completion of the theory, I went out to inspect the vehicle and their B licence compliant vehicle was still 4 tonnes unladen, and to compound the issue, of the 16 seats, only 7 seatbelts worked.

    When I pointed out the reasons why we could not continue there attitude was "Its not a big issue is it?"

    Suffice to say I did not and was not able to complete their training, and it seems that the college decided to just carry on as they have done previously potentially putting the lives of their students at risk.

    The reason I raise this is because I have heard several similar stories from others relating to other schools and colleges where the same attitude seems to apply which tends to suggest that many colleges and schools do not give much thought to the students welfare and safety.

    So if you have children at still at school or college, it may be worth asking the question if their minibus drivers are MiDAS compliant and complying with the law relating to what their driving licence allows them to drive?

    Some of you may be shocked if you were to ask the question.
    Last edited by Mark07; 28-05-24 at 15:35. Reason: Corrected typo
  • 3 Replies

  • Santa's Avatar
    Back last century, I did a similar course and took a test organised by Worcestershire County Council so that I could drive a Council minibus to take the Girl Guides to camp.

    At that time at least, they took the issue of training and compliance seriously.
  • Drivingforfun's Avatar
    I’m not trying to defend them but just being the devil’s advocate

    But it seems mostly a legal boxticking failing than a safety one to me

    Why would someone necessarily be any safer simply because they passed their test in 1996?

    If my child was injured or worse I think whether the driver had insurance and I could profit would be the last thing on my mind

    I would however be horrified at the thought of my children being driven in a bus without working seatbelts and such though!!
  • Rolebama's Avatar
    In the late 80s and the 90s, one of my neighbours ran charity for terminally ill children. They bought a minibus for use as an ambulance. The dealer they bought from was the only one who told them about VAT exemption. All appeared well until it was booked into the garage I worked at for it's first MOT. It was an absolute joke. Seat belts secured with cable ties, others with wood screws through the floor into bits of 9mm ply, and some tied to a ratchet strap across the floor attached to a pair of u-bolts attached to rear wheel arches. We contacted Vauxhall who told us the vehicle was supplied as a van with extra side windows, and no seats in the back, and the seats were replacement seats for the minibus version. They sent us a set of proper seat mount brackets foc. As to the dealer, they said that the 'mechanics' responsible had been fired, and no record was kept for their names and addresses etc. I knew they were lying, but had no proof.