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

Freeing up your time (and your school’s money)

Giving you more time to spend on providing children with an education

There are some tasks which are best done by companies who specialise in that field, not because you or your colleagues can’t do these tasks, but because the time is takes to do these tasks could be better spent on what you are employed for: providing children with an education.

One of these tasks is that of organising the school minibus’ services and MOTs. Which is why, when you lease a minibus with Benchmark Leasing, this is something that we will undertake for you – and, in most cases, the cost of repairs (if applicable) won’t affect the lease price.

Furthermore, if you lease a minibus with Benchmark Leasing there is the added benefit of improved cashflow (as you pay a set fee each month), and it often works out cheaper than buying a minibus outright (especially when one considers the re-sale value).

To explore leasing further, please do visit our website. Or if you would prefer to discuss it with someone, please do call 01753 859944 or email minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk.

 

Due to a dangerous mix of inflation and depreciation, leasing (as opposed to purchasing) is a growing trend

Leasing (as opposed to purchasing) is a growing trend across the board, from housing, equipment, and technology, all the way to school minibuses.

Why? Due to a dangerous mix of inflation and depreciation (with the exception of housing, of course, but the single factor of inflation is a reason in itself not to purchase as many people simply can’t afford it).

For now, however, I would just like to focus on the growing trend to lease a school minibus because Benchmark Leasing has devised a number of minibus leasing packages specifically designed for schools as purchasing a minibus simply isn’t an option for many schools.

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

But this is not all. Since schools know how much the minibus will cost each month they do sometimes ask the PTA to make a contribution each month – which is often very much welcomed since it means that the parents making the contribution to the minibus know that it is their children who are benefitting, rather than the children in future years.

Furthermore, with Benchmark Leasing the vehicle’s MOTs, repairs* and services are included in the arrangement, and the costs are conveniently built into the lease price. And, as the minibuses that Benchmark lease to schools are always brand new, the lenght of time during which the minibus is out of action due to repairs is significantly reduced.

To explore leasing further, please do visit our website. Or if you would prefer to discuss it with someone, please do call 01753 859944 or email minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk.

* T&Cs apply

A brand new school minibus would solve the issue

A survey revealed that the majority of school minibuses on the road are over five years old – but why does this matter?

When we consider that the majority of school minibuses on the road are over five years old (survey by Benchmark Minibus Leasing), it is no surprise that in a separate survey school managers reported pupil safety (due to the condition of the minibus) as a barrier to offering more LOtC.

Of course, buying a brand new school minibus would solve the issue of pupis safety as the minibus’ safety features (airbags, ABS braking, etc.) are more advanced, but buying a new minibus can be expensive – to the point of being unaffordable.

As a solution to both of these issues (cost and pupil safety), a growing number of schools are opting to lease a brand new school minibus as opposed to buying one (or two) outright.

This is because it is an arrangement which makes it possible for schools to fund the minibus through a small payment each month with the cost of the vehicle’s MOTs, servicing, and repairs included in the lease price.

Furthermore, in some cases where trips are paid for by contributions from parents and the PTA, it is possible to allocate a part of those payments towards the cost of the minibus.

To find out more about leasing a school minibus with us, please do call us on 01753 859944 or click here to see what we can offer.

And if you know that your colleagues are frequently searching for school trip or learning-outside-the-classroom ideas, please direct them to our Facebook and Twitter pages where they will find lots of exciting ideas.

 

Overcoming the barriers to LOtC

Helping you to overcome the barriers to Learning Outside the Classroom

There are two predominant factors that hold schools back from offering more LOtC to pupils. The first is cost, and the second is pupils’ safety due to the condition of the school’s minibus (a survey revealed that the majority of school minibuses on the road are over five years old).

Of course, buying a brand-new school minibus would solve the issue of pupil’s safety as the minibus’ safety features (airbags, ABS braking, etc.) are more advanced, but buying a brand-new minibus can be expensive – which brings us back to the first issue of cost.

As a solution to both of these issues (cost and pupil’s safety), a growing number of schools are opting to lease a brand-new school minibus as opposed to buying one (or two) outright.

This is because it is an arrangement which makes it possible for schools to fund the minibus through a small payment each month with the cost of the vehicle’s MOTs, servicing and repairs included in the lease price.

Furthermore, in some cases where trips are paid for by contributions from parents and the PTA, it is possible to allocate a part of those payments towards the cost of the minibus – reducing the funds being deducted from the school’s capital account.

To find out more about leasing a school minibus with us, please do call us on 01753 859944 or click here to see what we can offer.

And if you know that your colleagues are frequently searching for school trip or learning-outside-the-classroom ideas, please direct them to our Facebook & Twitter pages where they will find lots of exciting ideas

 

A misconception of the term ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’

How can you offer Learning Outside the Classroom in winter?

Due to a misconception of the term ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’, the practice of learning outside the classroom is often abandoned in winter.

The misconception is that ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ means learning in the outdoors, when this is not at all the case. Indeed, Learning Outside the Classroom implies any environment other than the typical classroom setting.

Winter is therefore a great time to plan indoor activities (outside the classroom) such as visits to museums and theatres, to name a couple. But for this you will need cost-effective transport, which is where Benchmark Leasing comes in.

Leasing a minibus with Benchmark can often work out cheaper than buying a minibus outright (especially if one takes into account the re-sale value of a school bus at the end of its working life) or indeed hiring a coach each time.

If you would like to find out more about leasing a school minibus with us, please do call us on 01753 859944 or click here to see what we can offer.

And if you know that your colleagues are frequently searching for school trips or Learning Outside the Classroom ideas, please direct them to our Facebook & Twitter pages where they can see press releases and news about what other schools are doing.

School Minibus Myth #2

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always need to have a minibus licence to drive a school minibus. Here’s why…

A school minibus can be driven by any member of staff who holds a standard car driving licence, providing that the gross weight of the vehicle is below 3500kg, the driver is at least 21 years old and isn’t being remunerated for driving the minibus.

To see if you meet the requirements to drive a minibus on a regular car driving licence, you can have a look at the ROSPA leaflet: Minibus safety, under the section entitled “Entitlement to Drive a minibus”.

If it turns out that you can drive a minibus on a regular car driving licence, it is now likely that you can increase your pupils’ opportunities and experiences for LotC because you no longer need to rely on the appointed school minibus driver to be available.

But there is a problem. Although you no longer need to worry about the appointed minibus driver’s availability, you’ll need to ensure that the minibus itself is available – especially because (I can imagine) you are going to share this myth-busting email with your colleagues.

Indeed, the only option here is to acquire an additional minibus – but buying a new school minibus is expensive, to the point of being unaffordable.

Fortunately, a growing number of schools are discovering that by sharing an additional minibus with another school in the same cluster, trust, or council, buying a new school minibus becomes an option.

Better still, if you lease a minibus with Benchmark, there is the added benefit of improved cashflow (as you pay a set fee each month) and it often works out to be much cheaper than buying a minibus outright (especially if one considers the re-sale value).

Furthermore, a full maintenance programme is included, so no matter the outcome of the vehicle’s services and MOTs, the cost of repairs won’t affect the lease price.

If you haven’t leased a minibus or thought about sharing one, please do give me a call on 01753 859944 and I can talk you through how it all works.

But if you want to take a look at who we are and what we do before you call, you’ll find more information about leasing at www.minibusleasing.co.uk.

 

What is the single most effective way of reducing your school’s overall expenditure on school trips (without making cuts to school trips)?

A study which was carried out in America revealed that that a massive 82% of pupils could recall information that they had learnt on a school trip a year later – proving the extent to which learning outside the classroom is beneficial to pupils’ academic attainment.

The problem, however, is that offering lots of learning outside the classroom experiences to your pupils can be expensive to the point of being unaffordable, not least due to the transport that is needed to get pupils from A to B.

Fortunately, there is a solution – a growing number of secondary schools are finding that by leasing a school minibus (meaning that there is no initial large payment required – just a monthly lease fee) rather than purchasing a minibus outright, costs are significantly reduced.

Better still, by leasing a school minibus with Benchmark, any repairs, servicing and the like are included in the arrangement with the costs conveniently built into the lease price.

Moreover, a growing number of secondary schools are also finding that by sharing their minibus with a nearby school that is in the same cluster, trust or council as they are, the transport costs are halved, and thus, their overall expenditure on school outings is reduced.

If you haven’t leased a minibus or thought about sharing one, please do give me a call on 01753 859944 and I can talk you through how it all works.

But if you want to take a look at who we are and what we do before you call, you’ll find more information about leasing at www.minibusleasing.co.uk.