Bespoke training for school bus service staff

Bus drivers and attendants operating the London Borough of Lewisham’s community bus services have received ‘fit for purpose’ training to help them effectively manage challenging behaviour from passengers.

The service principally provides transport for children too and from schools in the Borough, including some children with special educational needs, and staff are at risk of verbal and physical abuse – in some cases this is intentional and in others it is not.  Some staff felt that little could be done about the daily challenges they were facing from children and their parents or carers, but following reports of incidents, the Council’s Health and safety manager for children’s services, Clare Firmin, contacted Maybo for some specific training to help staff manage these situations safely.

Maybo’s care specialist, Steve Hunt, spent time with Head of Service and local managers to establish the problems the drivers and attendants encounter and to match training to these specific needs. It was also important for the training to fit in with operational demands and restrictions.

As well as verbal and physical abuse from children on the bus, attendants, who escort the children right up to the door, are often exposed to aggression from parents if the bus is running late.

Steve put together a bespoke one day course – an introduction to conflict awareness and physical intervention skills – covering basic calming and defusing skills and core physical interventions techniques relevant to the role i.e. work on dealing with grips and grabs and safe escorting of children. Methods for safely securing and releasing seatbelts for passengers unable to do this themselves were also covered as were tips on reporting incidents, such as what information it is important to include.

A key factor in the success of almost 20 courses that have been delivered is the use of real life scenarios in the working environment. Practicing the techniques on the buses, rather than in the classroom dramatically increases the transfer of learning to the workplace and improves the learning experience. This was reflected in delegate feedback with comments such as, “Enjoyed the training and was amazed by the different techniques which I have not seen before. “

Reflecting on the training, Clare Firmin said, “The training has given our staff relevant and appropriate strategies and greater confidence they can use to positively manage the conflict challenges they face, to ensure a safer outcome for our staff and those who use this valuable service.”

The success of this course has lead to Maybo working with staff performing similar roles for the London Borough of Islington.