One school discovered that responsibility for their students doesn’t necessarily end at the school gates – and how they have become leaders in addressing the issue.
It was an ordinary end to another school term at one of the country’s leading boarding schools. All the UK students excitedly packed suitcases and trunks into their parents’ cars and the overseas students eagerly awaited their turn to board the airport transport for the first leg of their journey back home.
At Heathrow Terminal 3 the sixteen students flying to Nairobi settled on to the aircraft for their 8½ hour trip to the east coast of Africa. As the plane climbed skywards the children felt that now, at last, they were on holiday. However, about 20 minutes into the flight, the Captain came onto the intercom and announced that there was a technical issue with the aircraft and that they would be returning to Heathrow immediately.
The students disembarked back at Heathrow, confused, frustrated and unsure what to do next. One of them called the school to ask for help, but the phone went unanswered – school was now closed for the holidays and everybody had gone home. The students were abandoned at Heathrow with nowhere to turn for help, and with their families half a world away in Africa.
Fortunately there is a happy ending to this story. One of the students’ fathers happened to be on board the flight and he was able to organise temporary accommodation for them all until they could board the replacement flight the following day.
As a result of this incident, this particular school is now a leader among UK boarding schools in its care of students. They brought in GTMatrix to help organise a fully-vetted transport service and a walk-in accompaniment/meet and greet for all students. We also provide an on-the-ground chaperone service at Heathrow, called ‘Airport Guardians’, to ensure that there are staff to attend to the needs of any student, whatever the issue.
We book all transport on behalf of schools, colleges and guardianships using only approved taxi and coach firms (called Fulfilment Partners or FPs) that meet strict compliance guidelines. This gives our clients a single point of contact, a single, fully itemised bill, and the reassurance that every student is being looked after by an approved and compliant FP. There are many gaps in the Private Hire licensing legislation which means that there is the potential for unlicensed drivers to be carrying minors. The lack of alignment in expiry dates of DBS, Private Hire driving licence and insurance means that without oversight some operators can easily get away with using illegal drivers. GTMatrix seeks to ensure that every driver for every journey is fully compliant and that consequently every student is in the safest possible hands.
If you would like to find out more about our student transport service please don’t hesitate to contact us to arrange a phone call or a visit to discuss your specific circumstances and requirements.