While Christmas was a much-needed and well-deserved break for you and your pupils, the same cannot be said for your school’s minibus – being stationary for some of the coldest weeks of the year can play havoc on its brakes, joints, tyres, interior, and so on.

While the school minibus might seem to have survived Christmas (or maybe it didn’t), despite an initial clunk and squeak, this neglect can certainly take its toll. It is therefore important to get it serviced, sooner rather than later, to avoid it breaking down when it is full of pupils and miles away from base.

If your school’s minibus is coming to the end of its days then it’s worth mentioning that by leasing a minibus with Benchmark, we can organise the minibus’s MOTs, services, and repairs for you, and can include these costs* in the monthly lease price.

What’s more, Benchmark only lease brand-new vehicles which not only means that the minibus can better withstand being stationary for a period of time and extreme weather (such as freezing temperatures), but it also comes with the latest safety features (such as ABS and traction control) for when there is no option but to drive it in such conditions.

For more information about leasing a minibus with Benchmark Leasing, simply visit Alternatively, you can call us on 01753 859944 or email us at

*Terms and conditions apply.

The law on providing school transport for your SEN pupils

According to an article by CYPNOW (Children & Young People Now) the disability charity, Contact, launched an inquiry into the guidance that councils have published with regard to providing school transport for SEN pupils.

Following the inquiry, it was found that much of the guidance given by local authorities was either misleading or unlawful – out of the 59 local authorities, 51% were not acting in compliance with the law.

So who is eligible for free school transport?

The law states that “any child with special educational needs, a disability or mobility problems that prevent them from walking to their nearest suitable school qualifies for free transport regardless of how far they live from the school.”

Yet a survey of 2,568 parents of disabled children asking about their experiences of securing school transport suggests that this is not always the case. The survey found that:

Nearly three quarters said their local authority provides transport for their child”

“74% of those who received transport got it for free”

“23% said they had been refused transport, with a top reason for refusal being that their child lived too close to school.”

“Almost half of parents said they could not work or had to cut their working hours because of school travel arrangements”

“Nearly a quarter said their child struggles to learn because of stressful journeys to school”

A DfE spokesman commented, “We are investing £222m over four years to help local authorities improve special educational needs and disability (SEND) services and local authorities must provide school transport for all eligible children with SEND.

“In light of the findings by Contact, the department will review the statutory guidance for local authorities to ensure it is clear.”

Benchmark Leasing provides cost-effective school transport, including accessible vehicles which are equipped to allow for wheelchair access, including ramps (either fully electric or manual), wheelchair and assistant lifts, and side steps for ease of access.

“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

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 Alternatively, you can call us on 01753 859944 or email us at

*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

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 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

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

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 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 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 or call 01753 859944 or send an email to

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

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 –

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 or go to

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