Issue 4 - Unpacking the key elements of transportation (Updated edition)
Considerations for centre-based education and care
The requirements of the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations apply whenever a service is operating. Transportation is sometimes provided as part of an education and care service and requires a range of considerations by the service provider to ensure compliance with the National Law and Regulations.
Examples of transport considered part of an education and care service include:
- Transporting children from the service premises to another location for a regular or one-off excursion
- Picking up or dropping off where the children are under the care of the service
- Accompanying children in transit where they are recorded as in attendance at the service and under the care of the service
Examples of transport that is not part of an education and care service include:
- Private transport provided by families and carers
- Pick up or drop off where the transport is provided, managed, or paid for by an entity other than the service, for example a school bus, and the children are not under the care of the service
- When a disability service picks up children and transports them to school or to an activity
When transport is part of an education and care service
In this case, staff should consider:
- Development of policies and procedures for transport (Reg 85, Reg 168, Reg 170, Reg 171)
- Maintaining accurate attendance records showing when children are within the care of the service (Reg 158)
- A parent/carer authorisation process for regular and ad hoc transportation (Reg 99, Reg 102, Reg 160-161)
- Ensuring children are protected from harms and hazards (s167)
- Conducting risk assessments (Reg 100, Reg 101)
- Adhering to maximum numbers* of children according to the service approval (s51(4)(a))
- Ensuring adequate supervision (s165)
- Maintaining educator to child ratio requirements (Reg 123, Reg 271, Reg 388)
- Suitable staffing arrangements (Reg 151)
- Preparations for responding to a first aid incident (R136)
- Following other legal requirements and best practice standards e.g.
ensuring suitable drivers licences, using seat belts, and child seats
*Adhering to maximum numbers on the service approval
The maximum number of children approved for a service is confirmed on the service approval, and this applies no matter where the children are located, including when they are being transported to an offsite location by the service.
A service approval is granted subject to a condition that the approved provider must ensure the number of children being educated and cared for by the service at any one time does not exceed the maximum number of children specified in the service approval (s51(4)(A)).
The ‘approved number of places’ for a centre based service means the maximum number of children on who can be educated and cared for by the service at any one time (Reg 4) and must not be exceeded.
For example, if the approved number of children is 40, there cannot be 25 children at the service and 25 on the service’s bus on an excursion as this would be a total of 50 and in excess of the maximum number.
Ratios apply and must be met whenever and wherever the service is operating (Reg 123, Reg 271). This includes during transportation, where it is provided as part of the service activity.
Ratios are applied across the service and not by individual rooms or locations. This means that where a service has children under their care across different locations, including in transit, the number of educators required will be calculated by using the total number of children across the service.
Only educators working directly with children can be included in educator-to-child ratios (Reg 13, Reg 122). This means an educator on a scheduled break, undertaking administrative tasks or driving a vehicle cannot be counted in ratios as they are not directly engaged in providing education and care to the children.
Approved Providers and Nominated Supervisors must ensure that there is adequate supervision (s165) of children at all times, and that they are protected from harm and hazard (s167).
Simply meeting ratio requirements may not always mean there is adequate supervision. A number of factors should be considered when determining if supervision is adequate, including:
- the number, age and ability of children
- the number and positioning of educators
- each child’s current activity
- visibility and accessibility
- risks inherent in the mode of transportation
- risks inherent in the environment, location or route
- any risk assessment
- the experience, knowledge and skill of each educator
Subject to an appropriate risk assessment, in circumstances where adequate supervision and appropriate passenger safety measures (e.g. seatbelts) can be demonstrated, a small number of children may be transported in a vehicle without an additional educator present, for example, a mini-van classified as a car under a Class C licence that seats a maximum of 12 people (including the driver). Compliance with first aid requirements of Regulation 136 must be met in each vehicle.
A breach of duty can only be assessed by reviewing the total available evidence regarding the service’s processes and procedures for the supervision of children. This includes a full review of the conduct of the service on the day.
First aid (R136)
First aid requirements apply when transport is provided as part of the education and care service.
The approved provider of a centre-based service must ensure that the following qualified people are at all times in attendance at any place where children are being educated and cared for by the service and must be immediately available in an emergency:
- at least one staff member or one Nominated Supervisor of the service who holds a current approved first aid qualification
- at least one staff member or one Nominated Supervisor of the service who has undertaken current approved anaphylaxis management training
- at least one staff member or one Nominated Supervisor of the service who has undertaken current approved emergency asthma management training.
The department appreciates that services and providers may need assistance in understanding the educator ratio guidance and what this means for them in practice.
For implementation support, services can contact:
- The department’s Information and Enquires service on 1800 619 113 (toll free) or at email@example.com
- Services requiring additional time to embed new ratio compliance practices may apply to the NSW Department of Education for a temporary waiver.