Cabinet will consider changes to Home to School Transport and support services

Support services and school transport

Our Cabinet members will be asked to consider changes to the Home to School Transport service for mainstream schools, and to some support services for disabled children, adults and older people, at a meeting on 23rd January 2018.

The proposed changes follow a public consultation that was carried out between 4th September and 22nd October 2017.

Which services are affected?

The proposed changes will affect:

  • Access Fund – this helps children who have Special Educational Needs to take part in learning opportunities, by providing additional funding to Early Years settings.
  • Home to School Transport – free travel service for some school age children.
  • Social Care Transport – travel provided by the council for Social Care users.
  • Short Breaks – a range of activity options for children who have additional needs.

The consultation has shown that all four services are valued by the people who use them. Some changes have been made to the original proposals in response to the consultation feedback, to help reduce the impact on vulnerable families.

What changes are proposed?

Key recommendations for Cabinet to consider include:

  • Changing the way that free Home to School Transport for mainstream schools is assessed. The nearest school geographically would in future be used to determine how far children need to travel to school, and whether children are therefore entitled to a free bus pass.
  • Encouraging more use of independent travel training to support pupils who have additional needs with using public transport where appropriate.
  • Making sure a number of Early Years settings across the district are already equipped to support children with SEND, which would help funding to go further.
  • Exploring other transport options with Social Care Transport users and their families, before council-funded transport is offered.
  • Continuing with overnight Short Breaks, and further developing after school services and short breaks provided in the community.

Families in which pupils are entitled to free school meals, or where parents are in receipt of maximum Working Tax Credits, will continue to be entitled to free Home to School Transport.

Cllr Viv Kendrick, Cabinet member for Adults and Public, said:

“In many cases these are some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. We’ve listened to the feedback and we have revised some of our proposals to reduce the impact on families. We know that the changes would affect some people who are using these services now, so we would aim to introduce these changes over time to help with that.

“Although we do need to find ways to make savings, we are also considering some changes that will have a positive impact for children and families. Enabling children with SEND to travel independently (instead of being driven round by parents or in a taxi) helps to support the child’s development, gives them important life skills, increases their confidence and also gives more flexibility to family members. We want to encourage more of this in the future.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to share their views so openly and honestly about these services and the impact that changes may have on their lives. We are also grateful to all the organisations who have supported local families to take part.”

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