School Transport Officer

School transport is a statutory service for children who are entitled to transport to and from school, by law. This is because of the distance they live from the nearest suitable or catchment school, or because they would be unable to access education otherwise, due to disability or other specific needs.  In some authorities school transport is organised by the Education Department. In others, the service is maintained by a Transport Unit, which looks after all areas of the authority's transport services, including public transport, social services, and youth and community transport.  Vehicles and their drivers are normally contracted from private bus/coach/taxi operators, though some local authorities run small fleets of buses.  School transport officers play a crucial role in ensuring the delivery of a safe, efficient transport service for school children.

Work Environment
School transport officers work in a team. Generally their work is either focused on pupils in mainstream schools or those who have additional educational needs. School transport officers are usually office based, but site visits may be required to schools and to carry out monitoring of service performance.

Daily Activities
School transport officers carry out a wide range of duties. These may differ from council to council, but will include some or all of the following:

  • forward planning - at the beginning of the transport 'season' (February to May), officers sift through information from schools and applications to ensure pupils are entitled to the service. By the end of this process they have a rough idea of the numbers involved and can then design and tender for the network of routes they need to put in place. Applications continue to arrive through July and August by which time they finalise the routes ready for the school term in September. Bus passes are then printed and issued to eligible pupils;
  • daily tasks - to ensure that a suitable, reliable transport network operates safely and efficiently, officers deal with the day-to-day work of arranging transport for new applicants or children who move, or whose needs change. This involves making alterations to existing routes or setting up new routes as necessary or arranging public service tickets or petrol allowances. They also may need to find cover for vehicle breakdowns, deal with incidents and complaints, and very occasionally, deal with accidents - making sure everyone is safe and accounted for. CRB checks need to be carried out on staff employed on school transport services to ensure they are suitable. Details of vehicles used to provide services their licenses, MOTs and insurances also  need to be checked;
  • working 'in the field' can involve visits to schools, vehicle operators' depots, riding on school buses, dealing with parents at school open evenings, and liaising with various other authorities - for example, the police, social services and the health authority;
  • administrative duties - officers develop publicity materials related to school transport, they identify sources of funding, research and submit bids for financial support from external sources, and monitor the effectiveness of new initiatives.

Beyond these tasks, officers deal with correspondence by email and post, spend a good deal of their time on the telephone, and attend meetings as required. Officers liaise with a wide range of people, including: children, parents, teachers, transport contractors, social workers, councillors and school transport officers in other local authorities.

Skills & Interests
School transport officers need to be:

  • good communicators with excellent written and verbal skills; 
  • approachable, persuasive individuals, able to negotiate with people from a wide range of backgrounds;
  • mature in attitude, with commitment and enthusiasm for the work;
  • well organised with strong administrative/planning skills and the ability to use computers.

A driving license is normally required.

Entry Requirements
No particular academic qualifications are specified. However, officers are expected to have a good educational background, for example, at least four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3). New entrants are from a wide range of backgrounds. Some hold HNC/HND awards or are graduates (various disciplines).

Entry to an HNC/HND is normally with four GCSE grades (A-C/1-3), plus one A level equivalent.  Entry to a degree course is normally with five GCSEs grades (A-C), with two A-levels or equivalent.  Others hold relevant qualifications/experience in secretarial, administrative or management posts.

School transport officers can work towards relevant NVQs/SVQs. These include:

  • Management, level 3 and 4 - provided under a Management Learning Contract supervised by Transfed;
  • Transport Technical Support, level 3;
  • Transport Planning, levels 4 and 5;
  • Road Safety, levels 3 and 4 - provided by the Institution of Highways and Transportation.

Degree courses in transport subjects are available at the following centres (check prospectuses to make sure the course content is relevant to your career choice). Aston University, Liverpool John Moores University, Napier University, Swansea Metropolitan University, University of Glamorgan, University of Loughborough, University of Plymouth and University of Ulster.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
With experience, school transport officers can progress to more senior management roles. They may also work in other local authority or private sector transport sections, for example, dealing with hospital or public transport. Alternatively they may use their skills and experience in other council departments, for example, education, social services, highways, environment or planning.

Further Information & Services
Association of Transport Coordinating Officers (ATCO)
Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
Institution of Highways and Transportation

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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