“A big thumbs-up to the positive influence of natural settings”

A recent press release from Curtin University in Australia has announced the results of a study which proves the theory that children are more creative when they learn in natural surroundings – which is of course great news if you are keen to unleash your pupils’ creative potential.

The study consisted of asking 97 primary school students, split across four classrooms (two from an English primary school and two from a Western Australia primary school), to write a poem based on what they saw, smelled and felt. In each country one class visited a natural forest before writing the poem and the other class viewed laminated images of the forest setting.

Ms Kuzich, from Curtin’s School of Education, said the difference in the creative language used between the classes was obvious with twice as many UK forest students using figurative language (such a similes and metaphors) compared with their class-based counterparts. In Australia that figure rose to more than four times when comparing the poetry of the bush-based students to those who remained at school.

Thus, the results, which have recently been published in the Cambridge Journal of Education, gave a big thumbs-up to the positive influence of natural settings.

Click here to read the full press release.

Of course, if your school is in a city then it is likely that you will need some form of transport so that your pupils can venture into natural surroundings, which is where Benchmark comes in.

We can supply you with short term rental vehicles or longer-term rental vehicles on Contract Hire, Hire Purchase or Finance Lease. You can find more information about the services that we offer including their benefits and features, at www.minibusleasing.co.uk/why-lease.php

When should your school lease a minibus, and why?

 

When to lease: If you don’t have the large upfront costs of a minibus already in place, and can’t raise them anytime soon.

Why lease? It is quicker and easier to raise the monthly fee of a lease each month (or to cover a few months) than it is to raise the entire cost of a minibus in a short space of time.

Furthermore, when we consider the rate at which a vehicle depreciates, by the time any loan has been paid off the vehicle may no longer be considered a much of an asset. Thus, it could also be argued that leasing is more cost effective in the long run as you are paying to use the vehicle rather than own it.

When to lease: If you can’t raise enough money for the vehicle’s annual MOTs, services and repairs, and/or if you don’t have a member of staff who has time to organise the vehicle’s annual MOTs, services and repairs.

Why lease? Many leasing companies, such as Benchmark Leasing, can include the cost of the vehicle’s MOTs, services and some repairs* in the lease price, so there will be very little or no further costs to pay on top of the monthly lease fee. Additionally, Benchmark Leasing will help organise the minibus’s MOTs, services and repairs for you, so your staff can focus their attention on what they were employed to do: teach.

For more information about leasing a minibus with Benchmark Leasing, simply visit http://www.minibusleasing.co.uk/schools-minibus.php. Alternatively, you can call us on 01753 859944 or email us at minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk.

*Terms and conditions apply.

Exploring the ways in which your school can fund an additional school minibus with limited funds in the bank

If you have little to no funds in the bank, consider:

  • Asking the PTA for funds – it is likely that the PTA will be more willing to make a contribution than you might think as the parents will know that it is their children who will be benefitting, rather than the children of future years.
  • Securing a sponsorBenchmark can help with this (see below).
  • Raise money through events hosted by the school – Fetes, Plays, Raffles, sell Christmas cards to parents that the children have made, cake sales, coffee mornings……

If you have no capital for upfront costs and no way of raising the money, consider:

  • Leasing a minibus Benchmark can help with this (see below).
  • Buying a minibus on Finance

If you can only raise half of the upfront costs or half of a lease, consider:

  • Sharing a bought minibus with a neighbouring school in the same cluster, trust or council.
  • Sharing a leased minibus with a neighbouring school in the same cluster, trust or council – Benchmark can help with this (see below).

Benchmark can help with this

Securing a sponsor
Since it can be hard to know where to start with securing a sponsor, Benchmark Leasing has created a report which supports schools through the process and provides a draft letter which you can send to local organisations to ask for their support. More information can be found in the following article: How schools are gaining significant additional income by having the school minibus sponsored by a local organisation.

Leasing a minibus
By leasing a minibus with Benchmark Leasing it is possible for schools to fund the minibus through a small payment each month. Furthermore, the cost of the vehicle’s MOTs, servicing and repairs* are included in the lease price. For more information about leasing a minibus with Benchmark Leasing and to see our range of brand new minibuses, you can visit our website, call us on 01753 859944 or send an email to minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk

Sharing a leased minibus with a neighbouring school in the same cluster, trust or council
If you are interested in learning more about leasing half a minibus and how it could work for your school, please do call 01753 859944 and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. Alternatively, you can email minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk. And if you would like to have a look at the type of minibuses that we regularly lease to schools before getting in contact, head over to our website.

 

*Subject to Terms and Conditions

If your school can’t quite afford to lease a brand-new minibus, has it considered leasing half?

Despite the recent huge growth in interest in learning outside the classroom, schools are limited as to how much Learning Outside the Classroom they can offer, not least because, as 60% of subject leaders reported, booking the school minibus can be somewhat of a challenge.

And in the current economic climate acquiring an additional minibus (even on a lease) is no longer a financially viable option for many schools, which is why some have opted to lease half a minibus – thus increasing their opportunity for LOtC.

Indeed the notion of leasing half a minibus might sound strange but it simply means sharing a minibus with a neighbouring school in the same cluster, trust or council, and thus reducing the costs associated with leasing an additional minibus by 50%.

If you are interested in learning more about leasing half a minibus and how it could work for your school, please do call 01753 859944 and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. Alternatively, you can email minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk.

And if you would like to have a look at the type of minibuses that we regularly lease to schools before getting in contact, please visit www.minibusleasing.co.uk/school-minibus.php.

Why 50% of schools are leasing their current minibus

Not surprisingly a recent minibus survey from Benchmark Leasing cited cost as the reason for many schools not acquiring a (additional) minibus. Yet only half of schools have considered leasing a minibus as a way around the problem.

Of course, the great benefit of leasing is that there are no large upfront payments so you don’t have to wait until you have raised enough funds to cover the cost of a minibus in order to acquire a (new) one – which would clearly be the case if you were looking to buy a minibus outright.

Additionally, as leasing is an arrangement which makes it possible for schools to fund the minibus through a small payment each month, there is the added benefit of improved budgeting and cash flow.

In fact, leasing a minibus can sometimes work out to be cheaper in the long run due to the rate at which vehicles devalue over time and/or with use – so it is well worth contacting a company like Benchmark Leasing to get a quote for a brand new minibus so that you can look at the figures for yourself.

Furthermore, by leasing a minibus with Benchmark Leasing, the vehicle’s MOTs, repairs* and services are included in the arrangement with the costs conveniently built into the lease price.

To enquire about leasing a brand new minibus with Benchmark Leasing, please do call on 01753 859944 or email us at minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk. You might also like to have a look at our website to get a feel for the type of vehicles that we regularly lease to schools.

* T&Cs apply

How schools are gaining significant additional income by having the school minibus sponsored by a local organisation.

A recent survey revealed that a growing number of schools are now having the cost of their minibus part funded through sponsorship of the minibus by a local company.

However, the survey also showed that while some schools were already using this approach, many other schools had never seen such an approach as a viable opportunity for off-setting the cost of leasing a minibus.

And yet, when the issue was raised in the research, the majority of respondents felt that this was something they might well like to look into.

Now, in response to these findings a new free report has been produced showing exactly how schools can raise money by having the school minibus sponsored.

As the report shows, sponsorship of a school minibus turns out to be one of the easier ways of raising extra money for the school – and this for several reasons.

First it gives a very clear statement of the sponsorship for the sponsor, since the bus will be seen in the local area.

And second, because it is easy to link in the sponsorship with further exposure for the sponsor, it can be a very attractive proposition for local organisations.

Yet, despite the fact that many schools have already explored this route with success, some schools have reported that they have tried, and failed, to get a sponsor for their minibus.

Where this is the case, further research has revealed that this often is because of the way in which local companies have been approached, rather than through any reluctance on the part of such organisations to come forward and be seen to be supporting a local school.

The new free report on the subject, “How to obtain sponsorship for a school minibus”, has been produced by Benchmark, a leading supplier of leased minibuses to schools throughout the UK.

If you would like a copy of the free report please email Sam@schools.co.uk. The report will be emailed back to you.

And if you are also interested in the notion of leasing a minibus at a price that is affordable for your school, please do have a look at www.minibusleasing.co.uk/school-minibus.php or call 01753 859944 or send an email to minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk.

2017 (Decision Makers) School Minibus Survey: there is still concern over the age of the school minibus fleet

According to our latest School Minibus Survey, minibuses are clearly now a mainstream part of a school’s facilities with 83% of schools using a minibus on a regular basis. But it appears that the minibus fleet is aging which is clearly not a good thing.

Findings from our most recent 2017 (Decision Makers) School Minibus Survey suggest that 57% of schools with one or more minibus have one vehicle on the road that is over five years old – up from around 50% two years ago.

This is understandable but worrying, given the propensity for older vehicles to break down while being used for carrying pupils and students. Thus, we continue our campaign of trying to find the most cost-effective option for your school to acquire a brand new school minibus.

Indeed, as buying a new minibus outright isn’t a cost-effective option for many schools, we have since explored the option of leasing. This appears to have grown in popularity with 50% of schools reporting that their most recent minibus was acquired on a lease.

A further option which we have also touched on is the idea of sharing a leased minibus with a neighbouring school in the same cluster, trust or council, which is ideal if leasing a minibus on its own is still too costly an option.

However, despite the fact that sharing a leased minibus can be a highly cost-effective option, only 4% of schools currently do this, perhaps because 13% of respondents said they had not heard of, and therefore considered, this option until now.

Thus, if you would like to talk to someone who might be able to point you in the right direction for sharing a leased minibus with another school in the same cluster, trust or council, please call 01753 859944 or send an email to minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk.

Before you get in touch about sharing a leased minibus, please take the time to have a look at the leasing options that we offer on our website to see if we have a minibus leasing contract that is affordable for your school – www.minibusleasing.co.uk/school-minibus.php.

To see the full 2017 School Minibus Survey, please click here.

Results of the Minibus Survey 2017 by the Teachers.

We have been running regular surveys relating to school use of minibuses by schools for six years, and during this time we have perceived an increasing tendency for schools to change the way in which minibuses are funded and are used.

This year for the first time, as well as asking senior management for their thoughts on minibuses and their use, we asked heads of department and subject coordinators in secondary and primary schools to tell us whether they had access to a minibus and how it was funded.

The responses summarised here are those from that particular survey to subject coordinators and departmental heads.

What we found was that 20% of our respondents had access to a minibus that was reserved for their particular department or subject area.

This is, as expected, still far smaller than the number of respondents who booked out the school minibus (68%).  7% of respondents felt they had no need for a minibus while 3% had no access to a minibus but would welcome it, and 2% shared a minibus owned or leased by another school.

In terms of ownership 39% of respondents said that the school had purchased its most recent minibus outright, while 30% stated that the school’s most recently acquired minibus was leased.

The use of a minibus shared with another school has risen greatly and has now reached 14% of the schools represented by our respondents while another 21% said that they thought this could be an approach which could benefit their school.

As we found in the past, the number of school minibuses on the road which are over five years old is large and rising – 39% of respondents said that they had a minibus in their school in this age group.

But where the big change came from our past surveys was with the view of future arrangements for minibuses.  6% felt their school was thinking of a secondhand minibus, 11% were considering leasing, and 51% believed the school had no plans for expanding their minibus fleet.

Although sharing a minibus with another school is growing in popularity, our respondents working outside of senior management did not see this as an option, although it is being more widely considered by senior management themselves.

The primary use of the minibus was transporting pupils or students to sporting activities (34%) while the second most popular was taking students to places of interest (22%).

60% of respondents could see the benefit from having another minibus in the school, but despite the huge growth in the notion of learning outside the classroom 34% declared that there was no need to have another minibus in the school.

In this survey schools were split fairly evenly between those which already leased or were thinking of leasing a minibus (38%) and those which have not considered the idea (27%).  Interestingly only 2% of schools said that they had looked at leasing but decided against it.

We invited our respondents to tell us about the way in which minibuses were used and the results were incredibly varied including using the minibuses to support staff in charity events such as the 3 Peaks challenge, as emergency & support vehicles for cycling events, to transport plants etc to the school’s ‘creation’ at the RHS garden Show at Malvern, and as a removal van to transport benches to the local church, sporting equipment for events and even pianos for carol singing!

Several schools spoke of allowing local groups to use the minibuses at weekends and during the school holidays, and one of enabling a group of disadvantaged children to go sailing.  One school spoke of transporting recyclable resources from local factories and another to help parents get to school for parents’ evenings.

We also had a most interesting report from a school that hired the minibus from a local fleet hire company.  However in this case the school was charging the students for use of the minibus for a trip, which of course would only be possible where the visit was not a part of the formal school curriculum in a state-funded school.

As might be expected. 63% of respondents felt that access to another minibus (either by buying it, leasing it, or sharing it) would be helpful to the school.

However 40% of such respondents stated that they were unable to raise the money.  2% of respondents indicated that the school would not take on a lease as a matter of policy, but 14% indicated that they had not previously thought about leasing a minibus.

In terms of gaining a business or commercial sponsor for the minibus, 37% of respondents thought that this could be a good idea – but it was not one that they had pursued – while 32% thought it would not be right for their school.

If you would like more information on the leasing of minibuses please contact us on 01753 859944 or email minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk or go to http://www.minibusleasing.co.uk/

If you would like to read our short report on how schools are arranging the sponsorship of minibuses by local businesses and other organisations please email Sam@schools.co.uk

Results of the Minibus survey 2017 by the School Decision Makers.

This year’s minibus survey of secondary schools showed once again that minibus use in schools is continuing to expand, with 38% of our respondents saying that they have two or three minibuses in the school which are for the exclusive use of the school.  A further 15% of schools said that they had more than three minibuses being used by the school, while 30% of schools had one school minibus.

As a result the minibus is clearly now a mainstream part of a school’s facilities with 83% having their one of their own.  A further 4% shared a minibus with another school leaving just 13% of schools with no minibus facility.

We then asked about the schools about the ownership of the minibuses.

45% stated that they owned the minibuses outright, with just 4% having bought the last minibus with a loan.  However, there has been a further continuation of the rise seen in the last three years of minibuses that are being leased – 50% of respondents told us that the most recent minibus acquired was acquired on a lease.

The number of minibuses shared with another school has also risen, and now 11% of schools are involved in this sort of arrangement.  A further 13% of respondents stated that they had not considered sharing a minibus but felt this could be of interest.

Thus, although the sharing model is still only used by or being contemplated by around a quarter of schools, the majority do not see this as the way forward.  But it is interesting that 13% of respondents said they had not come across this model of ownership before.

In past surveys we have expressed concern about the age of the school minibus fleet, which is why we have sought to let schools know about the options of sharing and of leasing.

While these two options continue to grow, our research shows that 57% of schools with one or more minibuses have one such vehicle on the road that is over five years old.  This is up from around 50% two years ago.  This is understandable but worrying, given the propensity for older vehicles, which might be driven by a number of different people, to break down while being used for carrying pupils and students.

When we asked about the plans for the future, the trend towards leasing became clear once again.  35% of schools said that they were interested in getting another minibus with the leasing of the minibus now being the main option.  The notion of buying a secondhand minibus appears to have almost vanished from the agenda, with only 2% of respondents mentioning this as an option.

The most common reason – in fact one should say the only reason – given for not getting another minibus when one was needed was finance, but half of those who stated this, also said that they had not considered leasing as a way around the problem.

This year we also asked about the use of the school minibuses with respondents being asked to indicate as many replies as were relevant.

The most common usages were:

  • Transporting pupils/students to sporting activities (swimming, matches etc) – 93%
  • Departmental visits to places of interest – 91%
  • Transporting pupils/students to other education sites – 70%
  • Transporting pupils/students to lessons or events relating to music or other arts – 68%.

One new innovation that we found this year mentioned by schools in our survey was that of schools loaning out the minibus to another organisation (for example, a local scout group) for their events during the summer.  We also had reports of secondary schools loaning the minibus to small feeder primary schools for their day trips.

Other uses besides the mainstream uses mentioned above included transporting students and their instruments to musical events, as well as taking students and teachers to the airport for a school trip, and as a support vehicle, for example with the National Three Peaks Challenge in June 2016.

Next we asked about sponsorship of minibuses. This appears to be an area where many respondents (31%) felt this could be of significant in the future, but the number actually engaged in this remained low. Certainly there is an interest in this area as over 50% of the respondents to our survey asked for a copy of our report on sponsorship.

Overall we saw a continuing growth in interest in the use of minibuses as a way of developing educational options – something that we noted in our previous survey of the use of minibuses as part of Learning Outside the Classroom programmes.  This was combined with other innovative use, and a growth in awareness of leasing as an alternative method of financing minibuses.

While the option of sharing a minibus between two schools (typically a secondary and a primary) remains modest, it too is growing, often meeting the need of the secondary school for an extra bus for part of the week, with the primary school having use of it on specific days.

If you would like more information on the leasing of minibuses please contact on 01753 859944 or email minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk or go to http://www.minibusleasing.co.uk/

If you would like to read our short report on how schools are arranging the sponsorship of minibuses by local businesses and other organisations please email Sam@schools.co.uk

 

The 2017 Minibus Survey

We are currently undertaking the third national survey of school minibus use.  Our previous surveys have helped many schools understand how other schools are financing minibuses and how they are gaining additional educational and financial benefits from using a minibus.

This year’s questionnaire covers new areas such as getting the minibus sponsored by a local company, and offers some free resources in return.

It would be really helpful if you could spend just three minutes filling in this year’s survey.  Then, if you would like a copy of our report on minibus use and the way schools finance minibuses, just add your email address where asked at the end, and we’ll send you the complete report in a couple of weeks’ time.

Please don’t worry if you don’t know the answers to all the questions – we’d still like to have your answers, and there is a “Don’t know” option for most questions.

Link to survey: http://schoolsco.polldaddy.com/s/the-2017-minibus-survey

If you have any questions about the survey or about leasing minibuses, or indeed any other aspect of minibus use by schools please do call 01753 859944 or email minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk

Benchmark Leasing Ltd