South Scotland

Scottish Borders Council makes school bus changes over 'missing' pupil

Bus stop sign Image copyright Thinkstock

Scottish Borders Council changed its school bus checking procedures following a complaint about a pupil having "gone missing", it has emerged.

The incident was investigated by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

It did not uphold the complaint but advised the authority to apologise to parents for the failure of a decision letter to be "more empathetic".

The council said it had changed procedures which it believed would prevent any repeat of the incident.

The complaint came from a man, named only as Mr C in the SPSO report, over a child who it was feared had gone missing while using the school bus service.

It subsequently emerged the child had stayed longer on the bus than they were meant to.

The father claimed the primary pupil had been put at risk because the driver did not know which children were travelling on the bus and had not checked to see if the child was on board when asked to do so.

Mr C complained to the council that the driver had not followed procedures but the authority subsequently found he had followed the guidance in place at the time.

'Sufficient advice'

The parent also said he was not confident in his child using the bus service because he did not believe the matter had been investigated properly.

He added that he did not believe adequate controls had been put in place to avoid the same thing happening again.

An SPSO investigation found no evidence the probe had not followed council procedure and did not uphold Mr C's complaint.

It also concluded that changes to school bus procedures had been made and no further problems had been reported.

However, it did find the authority had not given the couple "sufficient advice" about the changes it was making.

It advised the council to apologise for its failure to give fuller information about the incident which took place late in 2013.

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said: "While the SPSO have not upheld this complaint, we have, through our investigation into the complaint and our work with the SPSO, identified a number of improvement actions that we believe will prevent a reoccurrence of this incident.

"We have also taken on board and actioned the recommendations made by the SPSO in their decision report."

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