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School transport guidance note

This short guidance note aims to provide a brief overview of the role of responsible councils with regards to home to school contracts and licensing authorities with regards to safeguarding in taxi/ private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing and suggests some recommended actions.


Institute of licensing logo and LGA logo





The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Institute of Licensing (IoL) have been contacted by some of their members, who have expressed some concerns about home to school transport contracts and safeguarding risks. This short guidance note is not intended to provide a detailed guide to safeguarding and school transport. It aims to provide a brief overview of the role of responsible councils with regards to home to school contracts and licensing authorities with regards to safeguarding in taxi/ private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing and suggests some recommended actions.

Role of education authorities

Home to school transport contracts are arranged by councils responsible for education. This will be a county council or a unitary authority. Most education authorities will have a policy on home to school contracts which will detail their requirements of contractors, drivers, and vehicles. All education authorities arranging home to school transport will require contracts to be fulfilled by taxi/PHV/PSV licensed drivers in appropriate vehicles. Any safeguarding concerns will be acted upon by the education authority’s local safeguarding partnership.

Further information can be seen in the Department for Education’s statutory guidance (PDF file)

Role of licensing authorities

Taxi and PHV licensing in England and Wales is undertaken by licensing authorities (district and unitary councils), which have the responsibility for ensuring the public travel in safe, well maintained vehicles driven by competent drivers, as well as providing a fair and reasonable service for the taxi and PHV trade. In London, taxi and PHV licensing is the responsibility of Transport for London. One of the key differences between a taxi and a PHV is that a PHV, unlike a taxi, cannot ply for hire, which means that all journeys must be pre-booked in advance through a licensed operator.

In July 2020, the Department for Transport issued statutory standards for taxi and private hire vehicles and drivers which are fundamentally about safeguarding. Licensing authorities must have regard to these standards. Crucially, the standards reinforce the law by making it clear that a licensing authority must not grant a taxi or PHV driver’s licence unless it is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold such a licence. To support considerations of whether a driver is ‘fit and proper’ the statutory standards suggest posing the following question: 

Without any prejudice, and based on the information before you, would you allow a person for whom you care, regardless of their condition, to travel alone in a vehicle driven by this person at any time of day or night? If, on the balance of probabilities, the answer to the question is ‘no’, the individual should not hold a licence. You should not give them the benefit of the doubt.

If a licensing authority does not think a person is fit and proper, they are entitled to suspend or revoke a taxi or PHV driver’s licence.

The statutory standards also make a clear recommendation that licensing authorities should publish a single licensing statement or policy for taxi and PHV licensing that brings together all their procedures in one place. This could include policies on convictions, determining the ‘fit and proper’ person test, licence conditions and vehicle standards.

There is also another type of driver’s licence – a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence, which are issued by Traffic Commissioners and enable people to drive vehicles such as buses or minibuses. It is important to note that drivers of PSVs are not subject to a criminal record check, unlike drivers of taxis/PHVs who must have an enhanced criminal record check and subscribe to the DBS update service (this service, which costs an applicant £13 a year, ensures DBS certificates are kept up to date). Many councils are concerned that drivers who are refused a taxi or PHV licence, or whose licence has been revoked by councils, are able to obtain a PSV licence and continue operating in the same area. This can have serious community safety implications, particularly where drivers come into contact with vulnerable adults or children, and the LGA and IoL are lobbying to close this loophole.  

Further information can be seen in the LGA’s Councillor Handbook: Taxi and PHV Licensing.


Concerns raised by LGA/ IoL members

The LGA and IoL are aware of concerns about how much communication there is between education transport authorities and licensing authorities about home to school contracts. There have been instances where an education transport authority has revoked a home to school contract due to safeguarding concerns but not communicated this with the licensing authority, who may also licence the driver. The same could apply the other way round. 

Additionally, concerns have been raised about education authorities’ use of PSV drivers, which means children could be being transported by a driver without an enhanced DBS check.