Investment in better transport can benefit schools facing mounting financial pressures, a new Kura-commissioned report revealed. However, independent schools have many challenges so school transport and technology are often overlooked.
A survey of 250 leaders across state, free and private schools highlighted the frustrations for independent schools, with two thirds agreeing school running costs caused a strain on finances.
Staff shortages also impacted, many felt it was difficult to fill teaching positions (66%) and administrative roles (52%).
Safer, greener and smarter transport would improve revenue, costs and sustainability, helping schools to survive or thrive during the current economic crisis. Alongside this, transport technology could enhance pupil safeguarding and increase new admissions.
But recruitment, budget and academic results take priority, the research found. And, as schools and paying parents are hit by sky-high inflation, the cost of living crisis, and the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, school transport and sustainability take a backseat.
It was revealed only 7% invested in school transport in the past year, compared to 48% who intended to do so last year. Nearly half (46%) believed effective school transport was vital for pupil wellbeing and academic achievement, yet just 30% of independent schools offered a home-to-school service. Some 23% agreed it was harder to recruit vehicles or drivers (29% for school trips).
Sustainable transport options save money and reduce the impact of travel on the environment, making the school more desirable to prospective pupils and parents.
Despite this, only 39% of independent schools agreed reducing their carbon footprint was a priority, which could mean losing out on new admissions. While 41% agreed it was harder to meet admission targets than last year, only 12% planned to invest in electric vehicles in the next 12 months.
There was a desire to be greener, with 61% of independent schools agreeing pollution and congestion around the school gate should be reduced.
This is important as toxic emissions are dangerous to a child’s health. One in three children grow up in UK towns and cities with unsafe levels of pollution, according to Unicef UK’s The Toxic School Run report.
However, only 21% said the area around their school was part of a scheme to reduce traffic.
The data, part of a wider report, also found 59% believed greater investment in technology could boost staff productivity. Yet, of those offering the home-to-school service, investment is often lacking and 47% had paper registers, while just 6% used tracking technology via an app.
Staff worked longer to manage the school run, with 44% of independent schools spending more than 11 hours each week. With staff workload (75%) expected to be an increasing challenge, technology can help relieve the burden.
Download a copy of the report focussing just on feedback from UK independent school sample here
To deliver this report, Kura actually interviewed 250 decision makers across the entire UK education sector, including state schools, free schools and Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) as well as independent schools, to help us understand the current education transport and technology landscape.