Minibus licence changes will impact pupils: Larne principal

Larne Grammar School principal Jonathan Wylie
Larne Grammar School principal Jonathan Wylie

A principal has warned that changes to the rules on minibus driving licences will have a “major impact” on pupils.

Schools across Northern Ireland are facing new restrictions on which teachers can drive school minibuses, meaning some are having to hire buses and taxis to fulfil sports fixtures or take field trips.

Principals have been warned by the Education Authority (EA) that some teachers who currently drive minibuses may be doing so illegally, due to the Driver and Vehicle Agency reinterpreting the rules on minibuses.

The changes mean teachers who want to drive minibuses for their school must now have a D1 licence, which can cost up to £1,000.

Jonathan Wylie, principal of Larne Grammar School, told the News Letter the change would have “significant implications” for many schools.

He added: “Our two minibuses are now off the road and cannot be used, as none of our teachers meet the criteria.

“We have had to hire outside transport to honour the trips we had planned for this week.

“That is obviously not sustainable and what this inevitably means is that our extra curricular programme will be have to be curtailed.”

Mr Wylie said there had been no consultation with the Department of Infrastructure and no lead-in period to allow schools to prepare for the changes to the minibus licensing rules.

“It is causing significant problems for schools,” he added.

“The farcical nature of it is that I can technically drive a minibus for another school, as I am not doing it for hire or reward, but I can’t drive our school’s minibus.”