Pupils and students get reports from teachers. Schools get reports from the inspectorate. So what about the school minibus?

Producing an annual, or even a termly, school minibus report can have a huge benefit when it comes to ensuring that parents have and retain a positive image of the school.

Of course, everyone is interested in exam results and the musical and dramatic productions the parents come to see, and I would never argue that this should not be so.  But I do think it is sad that no special attention is ever given to the school minibus.

But, you may ask, why should this be?  After all, the minibus is just a vehicle.  We don’t do an annual report on the goal posts that stand in the sports grounds or a review of what the interactive whiteboard has been used for.  So why make the minibus special?

The answer comes from the fact that most parents are interested in things that make this school different from the next.  Parents do want to be reassured that their children are attending the best school and getting the best education possible.

And for this, most parents can be more readily impressed by such events as learning outside the classroom rather than the everyday teaching and learning that takes place within the school buildings.

Hence the idea of the Minibus Report.

In its basic form the Minibus Report consists of a log of each journey that the bus has made. But this basic format can be extended to include something much more interesting – details of not just where the bus went and which group of pupils or students were taken, but also what they did and what they saw – and why they went in the first place.

Thus the hockey team will be recorded as going to the next town to play an away fixture, along with the result, a history group will have gone to visit an archaeological dig, the media studies class to visit the local radio station, the geography group to look at a rock formation…

Quite quickly such a list becomes much more interesting because it records what was seen and done, rather than the fact that the journey was made in the school minibus.  And all the while the reader is reminded that this has all only been possible because there is a school minibus available.

Now this can be incredibly helpful if the school is raising regular money from the PTA or other sources to pay for the lease on the minibus.  It allows everyone to see where the money is going as well as to admire the efforts made by the school to deliver education both inside and outside the classroom.

Of course it is also possible to have a Sports Pitches Report, recording each training session and each match played.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  But the Minibus Report contains something extra – and if completed it is well worth making it available on the website and in the termly report to parents.

For some trips it is possible to use public transport, or it is possible to hire a coach. But not always.

This week I had the pleasure of chatting to a teacher from Oxford who was explaining to me the problem with making a trip to a local landmark – the Rollright Stones.

This ancient stone circle is about 15 miles from the school, and the group of drama students who were involved in creating a piece that required an unusual setting as a backdrop, and had selected the Stones as their venue.

The problem was that although only 15 miles from the school, the hiring charges for a coach to take the students there, wait around for a couple of hours and then return, were completely prohibitive.  Additionally the teacher didn’t want to ask the parents to pay for a trip which, he feared, although highly valid in his mind, might appear somewhat frivolous to the parents.

My friend talked to colleagues from the history department, to see if a joint trip could be of benefit, but they were not studying the Neolithic or Bronze Ages, and so that was not on.

They even looked into the notion of going by bus, and surprisingly Stagecoach does actually run a service that goes within a mile of the ancient monument – but at the wrong time of day.  “We could get there by bus,” I was told.  “It would take rather a long time, but we could get there.  But unfortunately we couldn’t get back.”

In the end the conclusion was simple.  A 15 mile trip to one of the most famous ancient monuments in the country, to allow a drama group to work out an improvisation that they had sketched, and about which they were very enthusiastic, couldn’t happen – without a minibus.

Now of course, visits to such remote spots are not that commonplace, and it is a lot easier to get to the National Gallery or the local zoo.

But it still seems to me to be a shame not to be able to visit such a site – and to me this story is one of the most graphic illustrations of the unexpected ways in which a school minibus can help develop and expand the education that pupils and students experience.

If you would like to know more about leasing a minibus please do call us on 01753 859944.  

Alternatively take a look at our website for more information.

And just in case you are interested in visiting the Rollright Stones – they are between the A44 and A3400, three miles north west of Chipping Norton and near the villages of Little Rollright and Long Compton.

If you go, I hope you have as good a time as I did.